The California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) is improving health and advancing science with interdisciplinary programs in biomedical research on significant human medical conditions throughout the lifespan. Research at the CNPRC is leading to new diagnostics, therapeutics, and clinical procedures that enhance quality of life for both humans and animals. The CNPRC is an Organized Research Unit of the University of California, Davis and part of the National Primate Research Centers Program at the National Institutes of Health.

The CNPRC is a part of the National Primate Research Centers Program and is dedicated to improving human and animal health. The CNPRC is one of seven such centers supported by the National Institutes of Health. The National Primate Research Centers are a unique resource for investigators studying human health and disease, offering the opportunity to assess the causes of disease, and new treatment methods in nonhuman primate models that closely recapitulate humans. Research performed at the CNPRC and other National Primate Research Centers provides necessary information before proceeding to clinical trials in humans, leading to new drugs, therapies and surgical procedures that benefit human health and quality of life.

The California National Primate Research Center began in 1962 as the National Center for Primate Biology. The National Institutes of Health developed this primate center to serve primarily as a breeding colony of healthy animals for research. The Center addressed conditions for housing and associated husbandry to ensure the healthiest of environments for the animals. Early in its history, the Center significantly advanced the quality of nonhuman primate research and nonhuman primate care.

In 1972, the Center increased its collaboration with the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and other UC Davis schools and colleges. The Primate Center continued to improve and evolve, and in 2002, the Center was renamed the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) to focus on the role the Center plays in providing resources on a national level for human health-related research.

Over the 55-year history of the CNPRC, countless breakthroughs and contributions to medicine have been made.  Important CNPRC research contributions include the following:

  • Due to our development and testing of tenofovir (PMPA), HIV-infected mothers can give birth to HIV-free infants and HIV-infected people can live long and healthy lives. Tenofovir has become the key ingredient of successful prophylaxes, and is the most commonly used anti-HIV drug in the world.
  • Our research found a link between environmental tobacco smoke exposure and adverse effects on prenatal, neonatal and childhood lung development, cognitive function, and brain development
  • Our research has advanced the understanding of developmental timelines in the kidney, and applied these findings to new protocols and tissue engineering approaches to regenerate kidneys damaged by obstructive disease.
  • Novel development of therapies at the CNPRC are being used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s Disease Ongoing research is demonstrating that reversal of damage and restoration of brain function is possible.
  • Our research discovered a link between an infant’s temperament and asthma – research is leading towards the screening, prediction and prevention of lung disease in children
  • The Center has supported studies in young monkeys for IND (Investigational New Drug) applications for treating children with Pompe disease.
  • Research at the CNPRC has shown that exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution (e.g. wildfire smoke) adversely affects both development of the immune system and lung function
  • A vaccine modeling HCMV infection proved safe and effective with the rhesus macaque model and developed the first-of-its-kind approach to preventing HCMV infection inducing broader immunological protection
  • BPA exposure in utero has been shown to cause adverse changes in fetal lung, oocyte and mammary gland development in CNPRC studies
  • In a major advance, our research defined a link between maternal auto-antibodies and increased risk of a child having autism
  • In order to successfully treat human disease with stem cells, physicians will require safe, reliable, and reproducible measures of engraftment and function of the donor cells. Studies at the CNPRC have revolutionized the ability to monitor stem and progenitor cell transplant efficiency in fetal and infant monkeys, and have applied new noninvasive imaging techniques that demonstrated long-term engraftment and safety.