Understanding the Leidos Reports: Why Primates Are Critical to the Future of Medical Research

In 2018 the National Institutes of Health Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (NIH ORIP) contracted with Leidos to conduct a two-part research nonhuman primate (NHP) evaluation and analysis. NIH ORIP’s goal in producing these reports was to provide the scientific community with an improved understanding of demand for and supply of research NHPs within the United States, project future needs, and discuss reprioritization of research NHP resources. Here are key points from the reports.

  • Nonhuman primates (NHPs) serve as critical animal models for many research areas, including infectious diseases; social, cognitive and behavioral research; reproductive biology; regenerative medicine; aging and neuroscience research.[1]

  • Historical trends reported by several NIH-sponsored NHP centers, as well as quantitative forecasts and qualitative predictions of these centers and other major academic and commercial NHP service providers point to an increase in researchers’ demand for rhesus macaques and marmosets over the coming 5 years.[2]

  • In general, participants thought there needs to be adequate NHP resources available to allow preclinical testing of the safety and feasibility of potential vaccines and therapies before translation to the human clinic, when such testing is scientifically required.[3]

  • There was a general concern among many forum participants that the U.S. is in danger of losing its international leadership in NHP research to countries such as China and Japan that are emphasizing NHP research with government-driven initiatives, and that urgent action is needed.[4]

  • Nonhuman primates (NHPs) are critical models used for studying human diseases as well as basic physiology, developmental processes and behaviors. Because of their similarity to humans in physiology, neuroanatomy, reproduction, development, cognition and social complexity, they are in many cases the best model.[5]

The complete reports are available here:

Access FBR resources on the benefits of research with nonhuman primates:

[1] Nonhuman Primate Evaluation and Analysis Part 1: Analysis of Future Demand and Supply, September 21, 2018, NIH ORIP, page 1

[2] Ibidem, page 2

[3] Nonhuman Primate Evaluation and Analysis Part 2: Report of the Expert Panel Forum on Challenges in Assessing Nonhuman Primate Needs and Resources for Biomedical Research, December 19, 2018, NIH ORIP, page 6

[4] Nonhuman Primate Evaluation and Analysis Part 2: Report of the Expert Panel Forum on Challenges in Assessing Nonhuman Primate Needs and Resources for Biomedical Research, December 19, 2018, NIH ORIP, page 9

[5] Nonhuman Primate Evaluation and Analysis Part 2: Report of the Expert Panel Forum on Challenges in Assessing Nonhuman Primate Needs and Resources for Biomedical Research, December 19, 2018, NIH ORIP, appendix B-3

(Featured image credit: Joe McDonald/ Getty Images)

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