Washington National Primate Research Center

May 3, 2019

2019 Ignition Awards Recipients Named

2019 Ignition Awards Recipients:

The WaNPRC Pilot Program is conducted jointly with the Institute for Translational Health Sciences and provides funding to collect preliminary data for future funding opportunities. The goal is to fund projects with innovative research endeavors that have translational implications to move toward human applications. This year there was a competitive pool of applications and we were able to provide funding to 2 projects.

Please join us in congratulating the Fiscal Year 58 recipients of the WaNPRC Pilot Program which exemplify the commitment to cutting edge science, collaboration and also support the 3Rs (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement) of animal use.

  • Nikolai Dembrow, PhD, (University of Washington): “Developing a primate culture platform for the treatment of degenerative disorders”
  • Jonathan Ting, PhD (Allen Institute for Brain Science): “A comprehensive viral genetic toolbox optimized for primate brain cell types and translational neuroscience”

Dr. Dembrow’s project is designed to characterize the cellular properties of the pyramidal neuron subpopulation implicated in neurodegeneration and the efficacy of a novel viral tool for targeting these neurons in NHP slice cultures. This project is intended to expand upon the knowledge gained in other animal models and provide a bridge between what has been characterized in mouse models to the highly complex human cortex. Experimental platforms will be developed to further understand the neuropathology of neurodegeneration and serve as a model for evaluation of treatment efficacy. An additional goal of this proposal is to identify the specific neuronal populations in the nonhuman primate in a manner that will minimize future animal use.

Dr. Ting’s project is a collaboration with the Allen Institute that will be a significant step toward converting promising cell class-selective viral vectors to robust and well-validated viral tools optimized for both ex vivo and in vivo NHP brain studies with direct relevance to human neurological gene therapy applications. The proposal will leverage a monkey ex vivo brain slice culture platform to: (a) validate expression and cell type specificity of >100 novel AAV vectors for targeting interneuron classes, and (b) apply these viral tools to multimodal functional analysis of genetically-defined neocortical interneurons. These experiments promise to be transformative, especially given that neocortical interneuron dysfunction is strongly implicated in a wide range of human brain disorders such as schizophrenia and epilepsy.

We wish the recipients luck in their endeavors and we look forward to hearing about their exciting results next year.

Sally Thompson-Iritani | Associate Director | Division of Primate Resources

The WaNPRC performs critical biomedical research leading to new advances in science and medicine. WaNPRC researchers are working to develop effective vaccines and therapies for HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases as well as new advances in genetics, neuroscience, vision, and stem cell biology and therapy. The WaNPRC directly supports the National Institutes of Health’s mission to translate scientific advances into meaningful improvement in healthcare and medicine.