The Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) at Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed) has been awarded more than $37 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue operations into 2026. The P51 grant, given by the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs, provides essential funding to house and care for nearly 2,500 non-human primates that are part of life-science research programs at Texas Biomed and partners around the globe.
Non-human primates play an essential role in pre-clinical research, including most recently helping to show that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine would be safe and effective for humans, accelerating the clinical trials. The support from NIH for our Center will ensure that we can continue this critical work in finding new treatments and vaccines against a variety of infectious diseases, while maintaining the absolute highest standards of animal care."
Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D., Director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC)
The SNPRC is one of seven National Primate Research Centers in the U.S., all of which are supported by the NIH Office of the Director's Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) through P51 grants. This is the fifth grant renewal for the SNPRC, which was established in 1999 when it joined the national consortia. Located on the 200-plus acre Texas Biomed campus, researchers have been working with non-human primates at Texas Biomed since the 1950s. Today, SNPRC houses about 2,500 non-human primates, including specific pathogen-free rhesus macaques, the nation's largest baboon colony and largest population of geriatric marmosets, all critical models in biomedical research.
The NPRC program celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and will be providing outreach and educational materials throughout the year highlighting the dedication of NPRC teams nationwide and the exceptional basic science that has resulted in life-changing medical advancements, such as the neonatal high frequency ventilator, diabetes and high blood pressure medications, the Hep B vaccine and Hep C therapeutics, the new Ebola vaccine and so much more. The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for the discovery of Hepatitis C, in part with the use of non-human primates at the SNPRC.
As part of the grant renewal process, the Center undergoes rigorous review by NIH officials and outside scientific experts to ensure high standards are met and identify opportunities for improvement. Since the 2015 review, the Center has restructured its management team, including bringing on Dr. Kaushal; expanded its team of veterinarians, technicians, animal caretakers and scientists; and added expertise and equipment in bioinformatics, genomics, single-cell sequencing and imaging. The Center has also increased collaboration with research partners throughout the U.S. and internationally, while clearly defining its own research priorities as Infectious Diseases Immunology and Control, and Comparative Medicine and Health Outcomes.
"The changes made over the past five years meant that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were already very well positioned with the SNPRC, our high biocontainment laboratories, and experienced scientists and staff, to provide critical resources for rapid testing of COVID-19 vaccines," said Larry Schlesinger, M.D., President and CEO of Texas Biomed, SNPRC's host institution. "That would not have been possible without the SNPRC and the ongoing support from NIH."
The Center and its staff look forward to continuing the important mission of supporting research for a wide range of diseases, from Alzheimer's disease to Zika virus, and raising awareness about the vital role non-human primates play in helping people around the world live longer, healthier lives.
The Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health provides the P51 grant under award number P51OD011133.