Tag Archives: california national primate research center

Part 4: Many voices speaking of animal research

We recently wrote about the many existing venues, activities, and materials designed to encourage public dialogue and informed discussion about animal research.  Many individuals, institutions, and organizations contribute to public outreach and education efforts, and also take active roles in dialogue about continuing changes in practice and policy concerning animal welfare and the conduct of animal research.  This post is the fourth in a series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) hosted by Speaking of Research to highlight a wide range of individuals and groups devoted to consideration of animal research.

The National Primate Research Centers Outreach Network

The eight National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) are riding a wave of unprecedented communication, thanks to a new National Institutes of Health/Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (NIH/ORIP) outreach consortium. This consortium helps our members work together more effectively to educate the public on our many and varied educational programs.

Reaching thousands at the USA Science and Engineering Festival

One exciting result of the new consortium occurred April 27 to April 29 this year in Washington, D.C. Representatives from the National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) spoke to an estimated 4,000 people who visited the NPRCs’ booth at the 2nd annual USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival, which included a learning station hosted by the National Primate Research Centers, drew 150,000 people to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., this April.

Billed as “the largest celebration of science in the U.S.,” the festival featured more than 3,000 interactive exhibits, more than 100 stage shows and 33 author presentations. More than 150,000 people attended. President Barack Obama promoted the festival in keynotes and public service announcements. Special visitors to the festival included The Myth Busters and Bill Nye the Science Guy, plus Nobel Prize winners, best-selling authors, astronauts, and even a rock guitar performance by NIH Director Francis Collins.

The NPRCs’ booth featured a set of touchable and inflatable real pig lungs representing healthy and cigarette smoke-riddled lungs. Our activity not only demonstrated how smoking harms the smoker, but also helped us convey how the Primate Centers have discovered that second hand smoke can stunt infant lung development. Our interactive display also included a flip board with questions and answers about animal research and care.

Volunteers from the National Primate Research Centers educated the public about the effects of smoking on infant lung development at the 2012 USA Science and Engineering Festival.

– The California NPRC outreach team spearheaded the NPRCs’ participation at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Some of the consortium’s other recent activities   have included the following:

–  The Yerkes NPRC continues to host a booth on behalf of all of the NPRCs at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting.

– Jordana Lenon (Wisconsin NPRC) represented the consortium at a PR/Media Forum sponsored by the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research last October in Newark, N.J.

– Consortium participants plan to meet for the first time as a group this fall.

To share updates, materials and communicate effectively with one another­ — whether we’re planning for large events such as the USA Science and Engineering Festival, or sharing news releases and other announcements — center outreach specialists, supported by the NPRC directors and consortium facilitators, use a variety of websites and other e-media tools. We heartily contribute our share to the 188 billion emails still sent every day… and we still talk on the phone. So, although we’re working in three different time zones, from one coast to the other, we feel closer than ever in our working relationships. We plan to meet for the first time as a group this fall, and we all look forward to building new partnerships when we meet.

Students, lifelong learners benefit from many engaging programs

What are some of the many other outreach activities we plan and share? For one, we are fortunate to have developed thriving visitors programs at our centers. We host year-round K-12+ programs such as afterschool programs, campus science fairs, family science nights, science Saturdays, science teachers days, and many more activities, both on site as well as at schools and community venues. A few examples follow:

The Oregon NPRC’s tour program welcomes more than 3,000 people each year. The center also provides opportunities for young scientists to experience authentic research by supporting high school students and undergraduates in labs for summer apprenticeships.

At the California NPRC, many classroom outreach activities and lectures introduce K-12 students to nonhuman primates, biomedical research programs and careers. The center offers a large curriculum and classroom resources for teachers.

The Wisconsin NPRC provides lab demos and hands on activities for middle school and high school students participating in the annual State Science Olympiad, as well in the National Science Olympiad hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison last summer.

The Yerkes NPRC promotes an  active speakers bureaus and tours of its large indoor/outdoor facility. Yerkes also sponsors an eight-week summer internship program for high school students. The center received more than 130 applications this year for 10 spots.

In addition to tours and community outreach programs, the Tulane NPRC hosts programs for college honor societies, summer scholars, biomedical students and career tech students. Every summer, the TNPRC mentors students who work with research technicians.

The Washington NPRC recently participated in a three-day science education event at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. In July, WaNPRC will again host science teachers participating in the annual CURE (Collaborations to Understand Research and Ethics) tour and seminar, a program funded by an NIH Science Education Partnership Award.

Southwest NPRC is hosting “Science Teachers Day at Texas BioMed” this summer, with bus and walking tours, demonstrations, and an “Ethics of Animal Research” panel.

More than 4,000 people participated in activities at the National Primate Research Centers’ booth over the festival’s three days at the end of April.

Specific programs for life-long learners are also growing, such as Oregon’s Road Scholar Week, and Wisconsin’s Grandparents University and College Days participation, and Yerkes’ coordination of eight-week series for two university-based life-long learning programs. In addition to coordinating active speakers bureaus that reach business, patient advocacy and other civic groups, the NPRCs’ outreach specialists themselves are also sought after as invited educational speakers at national and international conferences.

As far as outreach and higher education, most of the NPRCs are located at major research and teaching universities. They have active veterinary care training programs, in addition to offering undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral research training programs. The New England NPRC’s commitment to education is reflected in its summer programs for pre-baccalaureate and veterinary students. The Oregon, California, and Washington NPRCs host two to three dozen veterinary and vet tech students throughout the year in two-week externships.

Learn more about the National Primate Centers and other National Institutes of Health nonhuman primate resources for research starting here.

Jordana Lenon is the Public Information Officer and Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Defeating diseases of the developing world: tuberculosis and Chikungunya fever

Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers and stomach cancer, may also play a protective role against tuberculosis, according to studies in both humans and monkeys by a team from Stanford University, UC Davis, the University of Pittsburgh and Aga Khan University in Pakistan (1).

Scanning electron micrograph of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, courtesy of the CDC Public Health Image Library

One-third of the world’s population is infected with TB, although most infections are latent and only one in ten progress to active disease.

The presence of H. pylori in the stomach may boost immunity to the TB bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis. H. pylori infection is still almost universal in developing countries.

The researchers studied people with latent tuberculosis in California, Pakistan and the Gambia over a two-year period. They found that people who were also infected with H. pylori mounted a stronger immune response against TB and were less likely to advance to clinical tuberculosis than those who were not infected with the stomach bug.

They also carried out complementary studies with cynomolgous macaques at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis. Like humans, many monkeys naturally carry H. pylori in their stomachs. This study used tissues and samples from monkeys that had already been infected with tuberculosis for other experiments.

Of 41 monkeys, 30 carried H. pylori and only five of these developed active tuberculosis. Six of 11 monkeys that were negative for H. pylori developed tuberculosis. This finding supports the observations made in the human studies and indicates these monkeys are a good experimental model in which further studies can be performed. Already they plan to test whether experimental infection of H. pylori can protect monkeys from TB, and whether it can enhance the protective effect of immunization with current TB vaccines, which are only partially effective.   If these experiments are successful, they will test a genetically modified H. pylori strain developed by Ondek Biologic Delivery Systems that expresses TB antigens as a possible new and more effective vaccine against TB.

A paper describing the results was published Jan. 20 in the open access journal PloS (Public Library of Science) One. The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Of course TB is only one of many infectious diseases that scientists wish to prevent, and another report this week shows what can be achieved when you have a good animal model for a disease. You may not have heard of Chikungunya fever, but outbreaks of this mosquito transmitted illness have blighted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Africa and Asia in recent years.

As yet there is no vaccine available, but this week the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) announced an important step towards a vaccine for Chikungunya fever (2).  Scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center developed an experimental vaccine that employs non-infectious virus-like particles and found it to confer complete protection against Chikungunya fever in rhesus macaques. Antibody-containing serum from these monkeys also protected immunodeficient mice against otherwise lethal doses of Chikungunya virus.  Clinical trials to evaluate the safety of this vaccine and its ability to prevent Chikungunya fever in humans are now being planned.

Regards

Andy Fell, UC Davis

1) Perry S, de Jong BC, Solnick JV, Sanchez MdlL, Yang S, et al. (2010) Infection with Helicobacter pylori is associated with protection against tuberculosis. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8804. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008804

2) Akahata W., Yang Z.-Y, Andersen H., Sun S. et al. “A virus-like particle vaccine for epidemic Chikungunya virus protects nonhuman primates against infection” Nature Medicine Published online: 28 January 2010 doi:10.1038/nm.2105

Reminder: SR on Radio today!!

Today, Friday 8th, between 2-3pm, Tom Holder will appear live on Capital Public Radio (90.9 KXJC), to be interviewed by Jeffrey Callison on the program “Insight“. The interview will last 20 minutes at some point during the hour of 2-3pm.

Also, earlier in the day, at 12:00 noon, Holder will be speaking to students and scientists at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) Seminar Hall (part of UC Davis). Any students of members of the public willing to attend should RSVP to reception@ucdavis.edu. Some more details can be found here.

The talk will be recorded and hopefully will appear in some form on the website or youtube.Keep an eye on the Calendar page for updates.

Cheers

Tom

Addendum:
Interview on Insight available to download here