What are the National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs)?

The National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) are a national network of researchers searching for the causes, preventions, treatments and cures that will improve human health and lives worldwide. The NPRCs also serve as a resource to researchers worldwide.

What are some of the NPRC’s important research breakthroughs?

NPRC research continues to reveal the causes of health issues and results in the development of preventions, treatments and cures that are helping people across generations and the world live longer, healthier lives. Examples include HIV prevention, a cure for hepatitis C, deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease and approval of the immunosuppressive medication Belatacept for use with kidney transplants patients, as well as current advancements in brain-machine interfaces. Learn more about the top 10 research accomplishments of the NPRC centers here.

What regulations govern research with animals?

The NPRCs are committed to providing high quality, compassionate care for the research animals. Better care means less stress for the animals and, therefore, helps ensure research results are scientifically valid. As part of our commitment to high-quality care, the NPRCs follow regulations and guidelines from the:


National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare administers the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy). This policy requires research institutions to ensure appropriate care and use of all animals involved in research the PHS conducts or supports. In addition, the PHS Policy requires institutions to use the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (“the Guide”), which sets the framework for the humane care and use of laboratory animals.


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA is responsible for establishing standards and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), a federal law governing the use of animals in research.


NPRC-specific institutional animal care and use committees (IACUC) – each IACUC reviews and approves studies before any research begins. After approval, IACUCs conduct six-month reviews of an institution’s program for humane care and use of animals and inspects animal facilities, makes recommendations regarding an institution’s animal program, facilities or personnel training, and reviews requests for research protocol modifications.

Are the NPRCs conducting COVID-19 research?

Yes, researchers at the NPRCs are conducting research to better diagnose and treat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as well as to prevent the disease. NPRC animal colonies will be key in moving COVID-19 research from cell models to studies in whole living systems so researchers can determine treatment and prevention safety and effectiveness. Read more about NPRC COVID-19 research here.

What kinds of monkeys are part of medical research?

Rhesus macaques are the primary species used in NPRC research programs because of the biological links between their systems and those of humans. Research programs also include baboons, cynomolgus and pigtail macaques, marmosets and squirrel monkeys. Animal species are carefully matched to research studies to ensure valid scientific results that will be applicable to human health.

How are the animals at the NPRCs housed?

Most animals at the NPRCs are socially housed in groups of 2 to 200. NPRC behavioral management employees provide species-typical opportunities to forage, groom and play. These efforts, as well as the daily healthcare attention the animals receive, mean life expectancy of NPRC animals is greater than animals that live in the wild and face predators, untreated disease, habitat loss and food shortages.

How many monkeys are housed at NPRC facilities?

The seven NPRCs have 18,000-20,000 animals, including baboons, three species of macaques and marmosets. The centers also have rodents, including mice, rats and voles.

Who supplies the monkeys for research?

Each center maintains a breeding colony of animals that veterinary, colony management and genetic personnel oversee. Sometimes, in order to meet specifications of research protocols, the NPRCs may purchase animals from independent breeders who are also subject to strict USDA oversight.

Do the NPRCs have to conduct research with monkeys?

Research with monkeys is undertaken when questions cannot be answered other ways. Because nonhuman primates are genetically similar to humans, this makes them ideal models for human health research.

Why can’t the NPRCs use computer models?

Researchers use computer models, and cell cultures, when appropriate, and doing so does reduce the number of animals used in research. There is, however, no way to completely replace research with animals because it is not yet possible to fully duplicate a functioning, living system.

Why can’t the NPRCs use mice?

The NPRCs do use mice and other rodents in center research, but their living systems can only tell so much. Researchers may use mice to address their first questions and then move to monkeys to further address the most promising outcomes from the rodent-based research studies. This continuum helps reduce the number of animals necessary for valid answers. It also accounts for the genetic closeness of nonhuman primates to humans to provide researchers with a comprehensive and comparable research model.

If there were no NPRCs, what effect would that have on medical research and human wellness?

Without access to nonhuman primates in research, medical progress would be drastically slowed and, in some cases, stopped. A delay in finding causes, preventions, treatments and cures could mean shorter and unhealthy lives, which is contrary to the NPRC vision of people across generations and the world living longer, healthier lives.

Who takes care of animals at the NPRCs?

Veterinarians, veterinary technicians and animal care technicians take care of the animals. Colony management and behavioral specialists also provide care for NPRC animals. Many of the NPRC veterinarians are board certified, and many animal care personnel also hold certifications.

What do the monkeys eat?

The animals eat a nutritionally balanced diet of monkey chow as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Where are the NPRCs located?

The seven NPRC are located around the country: California, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Learn more about the NPRCs using our interactive map here.

Do the seven NPRCs offer tours?

All seven NPRCs engage in community and educational outreach, which may include facility tours. Please contact the individual centers for more information.

How many people do the NPRCs employ?

The NPRCs employ more than 2,500 people. This includes: researchers; animal care, behavioral management, colony management and veterinary personnel; as well as community outreach, facilities management, finance and human resources employees.

Who funds the NPRCs?

The primary source of NPRC research and infrastructure funding is via grants from the NIH. The NPRCs also receive funding through competitive research grants from other federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and private philanthropy. Additionally, biotech and pharmaceutical companies provide a small portion of research funding.

Animal rights groups say the monkeys are abused and mistreated. How do you respond?

Providing the best, compassionate care for NPRC animals is a top priority and helps ensure research results are scientifically valid. NPRC staff monitors animals daily in order to quickly address any concerns, and all animals receive comprehensive annual checkups, much like humans. The NPRCs follow regulations and guidelines established by the NIH, the USDA via the Animal Welfare Act and institutional animal care and use committees. In addition, all NPRCs maintain AAALAC Int. accreditation, the gold standard in animal care.

What are some examples of animal enrichment at the NPRCs?

Animal enrichment supplements the expert animal care the NPRCs provide and includes social housing, climbing structures, swings, hammocks, mirrors, music, videos and more. These options encourage the monkeys to socialize, play, exercise and stay curious. Wild monkeys spend a lot of time searching for their food, so the NPRCs provide foraging opportunities for our research animals. The monkeys pick seeds, fruit, nuts and other snacks out of artificial turf mats, food puzzles, chew toys and tubs of shredded paper. Employees also spread chew toys with yogurt and peanut butter, and fill treats with low sugar frozen juice blocks.

What is a National Scientific Advisory Board?

In addition to federal and IACUC oversight, each NPRC also has a National Scientific Advisory Board (NSAB) comprised of internationally renowned scientific experts in their fields. Each NSAB meets annually and provides advice and guidance on planning and program activities to support continued and balanced scientific growth of each NPRC.

What is AAALAC Accreditation?

AAALAC International is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. AAALAC Int. accreditation is recognized as the gold standard for laboratory animal care. More than 1,100 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions in 50 countries/regions have earned AAALAC accreditation, including the NPRCs, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use. These institutions volunteer to participate in AAALAC’s program, in addition to complying with all applicable local and national laws that regulate animal research.

How Can I Learn More?

We encourage you to explore other pages on this website, including our News page, which we frequently update with our latest scientific advancements.

You can find the center closest to you on this page; all the NPRCs conduct local outreach to schools, community groups and others, and many offer tours. If you don’t live close enough to participate in a tour, you can virtually visit a research center via this video: Love Care Progress, Inside a Nonhuman Primate Research Facility.

We also encourage you to follow us on X; our handle is @NPRCnews.

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