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Give to Research, Change Lives!

These researchers are representative of all the Yerkes researchers who are making life-changing discoveries: 


A prime example of research synergy that has helped advance Parkinson’s disease research involves Yerkes neuropharmacologist Leonard Howell’s studies of the role of dopamine in cocaine addiction and neurologist Yoland Smith’s work in Parkinson disease. Dopamine acts as a messenger to control the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Howell has used Positron Emissions Tomography (PET) imaging to trace the action of dopamine in the cocaine-addicted brain and has developed medications that prevent the drug from triggering a reward response. Now researchers like Smith are using the same imaging technology in primate studies to examine the connection between dopamine and the movement disorders found in Parkinson’s disease. “There is a real overlap in the research, and imaging is an ideal tool for both programs,” says Howell. (Dr. Howell is pictured below.)



Larry Young, PhD, is deciphering the chemical triggers and pathways in the brain that drive humans to form relationships. Young works to understand the neurobiology of socialization from a basic science perspective by studying prairie voles. By comparing prairie voles with meadow voles—which are almost identical genetically but do not crave social contact or form strong social bonds —Young’s laboratory is mapping the genetic and neurobiological mechanisms underlying complex social behaviors. This research could lead to a better understanding of biology’s role in social cognitive disorders such as autism and psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, which are associated with severe social impairments.



Mollie Bloomsmith’s job at Yerkes is to make sure all of the center’s animals are well cared for. As director of behavioral management in the Division of Animal Resources, she oversees daily programs to improve the psychological well-being of primates involved in research at Yerkes. “This is a fun and satisfying approach to taking care of primates. The low-stress, partnering, and positive reinforcement method of training complements the research process, giving more reliable results and a new way of handling primates that leads to happier animals and researchers,” she says. “Yerkes is one of the leading centers in using this type of training and in doing research to evaluate the results and benefits. We are doing the very best we can for our animals and we are always improving. We are privileged to get to work with primates, as very few get to do this,” says Bloomsmith.


Yerkes researchers can do even more with your support. 

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For more information, contact Ashley Michaud at

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