Not all individuals respond in the same way to challenge, whether it be physical, social, or microbial. The rise of personalized medicine reveals the increasing recognition of the impact individual characteristics have on health and disease. Differences in temperament, emotionality, behavioral and physiological reactivity, and personality – which we refer to as biobehavioral organization – are key components in a variety of health outcomes.
Individual variations in biobehavioral organization appear early in life and are remarkably stable over time. To monitor how such variations relate to health (both behavioral and physical), the CNPRC has developed a BioBehavioral Assessment (BBA) Program to characterize biobehavioral organization in infant rhesus monkeys.
Performed between three and four months of age, this highly standardized series of assessments is designed to quantify variation in basic indicators of biobehavioral organization. The highly standardized, 25-hour-long, protocol includes:
Assessments of memory, responsiveness to mild challenges, and willingness to interact with novel objects
Genotyping for polymorphisms in the promoter regions of the serotonin transporter and monoamine oxidase-A genes
Assessing regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
Measuring routine hematologic parameters, as well as C-reactive protein concentrations
By better understanding the causes and consequences of variation in biobehavioral organization, this program seeks to improve the impact of our nonhuman primate models on health related research. It also provides a database that makes unique contributions to the development of nonhuman primate models of personalized medicine. Data from the BBA program also play a role in understanding and improving captive management practices. Quantitative data from the BBA Program is available to qualified investigators for mining and hypothesis testing, and for the selection of nonhuman primates with particular biobehavioral characteristics for investigators’ own research programs.