Washington National Primate Research Center

Facts about the Center

What is the Center's history?

The Center received its first operating grant award in 1961 and is one of the seven U.S. centers in the National Primate Research Center Program established by Congress in 1959 in order to provide specialized resources for nonhuman primate research studies that are applicable to human health.

How is the Center affiliated with the University of Washington?

The Center is an integral department of the University of Washington (UW), affiliated with the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, affiliated research centers and the University of Washington Medical Center.

Where is the Center located?

The Center is headquartered in the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Center on the UW campus in Seattle Washington, with additional leased facilities in South Lake Union and Belltown in metropolitan Seattle.

What is the Center's relationship with the National Institute of Health?

The Center operates in core facilities that are supported by the NIH Office of the Director. Specifically, all NPRCs reside within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) in the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP).

What are the Center's specialities?

The Center has a research staff of nationally and internationally prominent scientists led by our Core Staff scientists and over 400 affiliate scientists. These Core Scientists are also UW faculty members in the following departments:

  • Anthropology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biological Structure
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Global Health
  • Immunology
  • Laboratory Medicine
  • Medical Genetics
  • Microbiology
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology
  • Oncology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Physiology & Biophysics
  • Psychology

What is the focus of the Center's research?

The Center conducts research that touches virtually every field of nonhuman primate biology and medicine with particular focus on the neurobiological sciences, AIDS-related research, reproductive and developmental sciences, genomics, immunogenetics, nonhuman primate models for human diseases, international outreach and conservation, and the psychological well-being needs of its colonies. The Center participates in biomedical research activities that supports the NIH initiative to accelerate the translation of basic discoveries into improved therapies and medical care.

Is the Center accredited?

The Center has achieved Continued Full Accreditation through AAALAC International as part of the Animal Program at the University of Washington.

Questions about the Video

How are nonhuman primates socialized at WaNPRC?

At WaNPRC we have a dedicated behavioral management team that works closely with our veterinary and husbandry teams to provide the best possible care for our animals.

  • Social housing is the DEFAULT housing condition for ALL animals.
  • We maintain socialization rates of at least 80% or higher each month. This means that the majority of our non-exempted animals are socially housed each month.
  • There are very important reasons why an animal may be singly housed for a period of time, which include:
    • Experimental reasons which require an approved Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) exemption that includes scientific justification.
    • Clinical reasons which requires an approved veterinary exemption.
  • Rationale for all singly housed animals is reviewed every 30 days by the Attending Veterinarian, as required by federal law.
  • Singly-housed animals receive extra enrichment in addition to standard daily enrichment.

What about the videos posted online?

The video posted on extremist websites pertaining to animals at the WaNPRC at the University of Washington were produced between 2012 and 2013. Between 2012 and 2017, four National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) participated in a joint research project focused on improving captive primate well-being by collecting and assessing temperament data based on an animal’s response to novel stimuli.

Understanding temperament can lead to better individualized care and improved animal welfare. It can indicate how an animal might respond to research procedures, personnel, social interactions, positive reinforcement training, or novel enrichment.

What was the data collection process like?

  • The temperament assessments were recorded on video so that they could be scored by the same individuals thereby reducing potential observer bias.
  • During the assessment, an unfamiliar person stood in front of the animals’ home cage for several minutes to see how they responded.
  • Animals that were socially housed were temporarily separated from their partners, allowing each animal to be evaluated individually.
  • Social pairs were reunited the same day, once the data for that room was collected.

What information did we gather?

  • Some animals were unfazed by the presence of the unfamiliar person while others changed their behavior.
  • The variation in the responses gives us insight into each animal’s temperament.

The overarching goal of this research project and the philosophy of WaNPRC is to ensure a safe and enriching environment that supports the psychological well-being of the animal and the integrity of scientific data.