Health Sciences Administration

The mission of the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) is to provide the appropriate environment to support outstanding biomedical research directed towards significant human health issues and nonhuman primate (NHP) health and biology.

Who We Are

The WaNPRC received its first operating grant from the federal government in 1961 and is comprised of 16 core staff scientists in the following divisions:AIDS-Related Diseases,  Global ProgramsNeuroscienceNHP Systems BiologyReproductive & Developmental Sciences, and the Venture/Pilot program. As a component of the Health Sciences Administration, the WaNPRC supports more than 164 affiliate researchers from 21 UW departments and 71 local, national and international institutions.

The WaNPRC is one of seven National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) in the nation. The mission of the NPRCs is to use scientific discovery and nonhuman primate models to accelerate progress in understanding human diseases, leading to better health. The NPRCs collaborate as a transformative and innovative network to support the best science and act as a resource to the biomedical research community as efficiently as possible. There is an exceptional return on investment in the NPRC program; ten dollars is leveraged for every one dollar of research support for the NPRCs.


The WaNPRC administered more than $78 million in grants over the last fiscal year, supporting 70 grants (27 of which are directly administered by the WaNPRC). Among these grants, more than a dozen NIH institutes are represented. This money goes toward research, animal care, facilities (three in the Seattle) and administration. In turn, these funds were used to leverage an additional $91 million in research.

What We Do

Scientists at the WaNPRC conduct translational research supported by the expertise of professional support staff and access to a variety of dedicated facilities required for NHP research protocols. Researchers are pursuing vaccines for HIV/AIDS, exploring innovative treatments for balance disorders and color blindness, applying neuroscience to overcome paralysis and stroke, and much more. See below for a list of recent accomplishments:

  • Work by WaNPRC researchers Eberhard FetzChet Moritz and Steve Perlmutter on how the brain can be rewired to get around a paralyzing injury and directly re-animate immobilized limbs was featured in the Oct. 16, 2008 issue of Nature. The scientists seek to discover how to re-route brain signals to bypass damaged nerves to treat spinal cord injuries and paralysis. The team built a “neurochip” device from off-the-shelf electronic components. The project received a $1 million grant from Keck Foundation in February 2010.  The device is currently being used in Seattle-area by human patients with Cerebral Palsy and brain injury.
  • WaNPRC researchers Jay Neitz and Maureen Neitz were part of a team of researchers that used gene therapy to successfully treat color blindness in two squirrel monkeys. The research was featured in the Sept. 16, 2009 edition of Nature. The findings may have applications in using gene therapy to treat color blindness and other vision disorders in people. The research was covered by MSNBCNPR, the BBCU.S News and World Report, and several other media outlets. TIME magazine mentioned the work among thetop three scientific discoveries of 2009.
  • Following a successful surgery in October 2010, a patient at the UW Medical Center became the world’s first recipient of a device that aims to quell the disabling vertigo associated with Meniere’s disease. The device being tested represents more than four years of work by Jay T. Rubinstein and James O. Phillips, both WaNPRC researchers. The team hopes success in a 10-person trial of Meniere’s patients will lead to exploration of its usefulness against other common balance disorders.
  • WaNPRC researcher Shiu-Lok Hu is part of a team that received a $15.5 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in March 2010 under the HIV Vaccine Research and Design (HIVRAD) program. Hu’s $4 million portion will be used to develop an animal model to study how such antibodies against HIV are generated.
A Scientific Resource

As a local, regional, national and international resource, the WaNPRC offers UW and external researchers and collaborators access to a variety of specialized medical and scientific expertise, services, programs and facilities, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • 3,388 specifically-bred and characterized nonhuman primates representing five species at two UW locations and four off-site colonies.
  • For more than 30 years, the Infant Primate Research Laboratory (IPRL) has provided services to investigators using infant nonhuman primates as animal models for behavioral and biological research. The only lab of its kind in the nation, the IPRL recently completed a $12.7 million renovation of its core facility located in the Magnuson Health Sciences Building. The IPRL is supported as a core facility of both the WaNPRC and the Center on Human Development and Disability.
  • The WaNPRC NHP Systems Biology’s High-Throughput Molecular Profiling Core is a resource for UW scientists to obtain datasets by oligonucleotide microarray, next-generation sequencing, and proteomics. The Core has particular expertise in applying these methods to NHP research.  High-throughput genomic and proteomic profiling is one of NIH Director Francis Collins’ top priorities and these services have been provided by the WaNPRC for over 10 years.
  • The WaNPRC recently added a new biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facility at its Western facility in Belltown. This lab uses unidirectional airflow and high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filtration to control aerosols and remove infectious organisms from the air. This enables the WaNPRC to maintain a degree of readiness to rapidly respond to a human infectious disease outbreak, a principal function of all National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs).

Visit the WaNPRC’s website.