Note: Texas Biomed and UT Health San Antonio are teaming up to house the country’s largest marmoset colony dedicated to aging research. This story was posted on April 18, which is Biomedical Research Awareness Day. This day was created to educate students and the public on the importance of biomedical research and the humane use of animals.
UT Health San Antonio and Texas Biomedical Research Institute have signed an animal care and joint research agreement to move dozens of important research animals from the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies to the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) on the Texas Biomed campus.
Texas Biomed uses its population of approximately 340 marmosets for various research projects, including experiments involving the emerging Zika virus and research into Parkinson’s disease. The marmosets from UT Health San Antonio’s Barshop Institute are used in aging research as part of the San Antonio Marmoset Aging Program. Combined, these programs will maintain more than 400 marmosets for research, making it the country’s largest marmoset colony dedicated to aging and infectious diseases research.
Importance in research
Marmosets are small New World monkeys that are excellent animal models in many areas of biomedical research.
“Marmosets are becoming an increasingly important biomedical model and are of particular interest in aging studies, due to their relatively short life span compared with other types of primates. The SNPRC has dedicated facilities and staff for the care and management of this unique species,” said Professor Suzette Tardif, Ph.D., associate director of the SNPRC.
Texas Biomed recently invested more than $2 million updating an entire building devoted to the care of this species with the capacity to hold up to 550 marmosets.
“To understand aging and how interventions such as exercise, diet and pharmacological agents might improve health across the life span, it is helpful to conduct comparative biology studies across species, including rodents and small animals. Marmosets have proven to be a great addition to the science of aging,” said Nicolas Musi, M.D., Barshop Institute director and professor of medicine in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
The Marmoset Aging Program colony at Texas Biomed will be made up of 90 to 175 animals including a population of geriatric marmosets (animals between the ages of 10 and 20 years old) and a population of mid-life marmosets (between 6 to 9 years old) necessary for future aging studies.
Prior to their transport to Texas Biomed from the Barshop Institute, marmosets will undergo a medical evaluation to make sure they are healthy enough to move. Once the animals are housed at Texas Biomed, their care will be overseen by SNPRC staff and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee on the Texas Biomed campus.
San Antonio collaboration
“The agreement between UT Health San Antonio and Texas Biomed to jointly manage the Marmoset Aging Program, housed at Texas Biomed, is an example of the highly collaborative relationships between our biomedical science institutions in San Antonio,” said Professor Joanne Turner, Ph.D., Texas Biomed vice president for research. “We see ourselves as collaborators and not competitors within the biomedical science space, and Texas Biomed welcomes additional citywide interactive projects in the future.”
Texas Biomed and UT Health San Antonio are both engaged in research and public health missions. This collaboration is a reflection of those shared values.
“The National Institutes of Health plans to launch funding to expand marmoset research, and this agreement will provide an exceptional resource to our institutions and collaborators to understand the neurobiology of aging and treat conditions ranging from neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders to infectious diseases,” said Professor Andrea Giuffrida, Ph.D., vice president for research at UT Health San Antonio.
The agreement to merge these research animals to one location at the SNPRC was signed earlier this month. The animals will be transferred this summer.
Photos and video of marmosets at the SNPRC can be provided by Texas Biomed.
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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, now called UT Health San Antonio®, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities. With missions of teaching, research, healing and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 36,500 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.
Texas Biomed is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. The Institute is home to the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) and provides broad services in primate research. SNPRC contributes to a national network of National Primate Research Centers (NPRCs) with specialized technologies, capabilities and primate resources, many of which are unique to the SNPRC. The Center also serves investigators around the globe with research and technical procedures for collaborative projects. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org or for more information on SNPRC, visit www.SNPRC.org.