Kunming Primate Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
After many rounds of argumentation, Kunming Primate Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (KPRC),
a research unit without juridical personality in CAS Knowledge Innovation Program, was authorized to
establish in March 2005, andthen the Management Board was organized in April 2005 and the establishment of
this center was announced in May 2005.
KPRC belonged to Chinese Academy of Sciences and affiliated to Kunming Institute of Zoology, is a nonprofit
and commonweal research unit.
1. Background and Significance of KPRC Establishment
Chinese Academy of Sciences has paid much attention to basic and applied basic researches on human diseases and
health. In the plan for Optimization Phase of Knowledge Innovation Program (KIP) of CAS, establishments of
research base and techniques platform on human medicine and health were especially emphasized. Establishment of
KPRC is one important act for this purpose.
1.1 Development requirements of biological science
In last century, nearly every great medical progress was based on researches in animal. Nonhuman primate are the
closest relatives of human, and very like human in histological, immunological, physiological and metabolism characteristics,
all the while, being indispensable experimental animal for medical biology research and pharmaceutical trial as follows:
researches on brain function; various types of immunocytes and interaction between their secretions; interaction between
immune system and some special microorganisms (e.g. HIV) only found in human and nonhuman primate host; studies on
primate reproductive physiology and embryo development at molecular, cellular and organismic levels, and so forth. All the
while, nonhuman primate, being important medical laboratory animal, are best model animal for virosis and other infectious diseases,
psychosis and neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, tumor and cancer, and reproductive physiology. They function as a bridge between
basic research and clinical medicine, namely “translational research” and “from bench to bedside”. Above research items are key
and front in their fields, and also can influence solution of many important social problems.
Nonhuman primates have been used as model animal in biological and medical research for nearly a hundred years. Many countries
such as America, some European countries and Japan, have established primate research center and paid much attention to researches
on nonhuman primate. No nonhuman primate natively distributes in America, but a decade of primate research organizations were
established and 8 of which are national primate research center funded by federal government, every center housing more than one
thousand animals. So far, many research results derived from primate research have been applied to human disease therapy and health care.
For example, studies on development of vision system conducted in New England primate research center were awarded with the Nobel Prize
in Physiology or Medicine 1981, and had changed methods and thoughts used by oculist in curing congenital pearl eye. With social progress
and medicine development, some traditional infectious diseases have been gradually controlled and even overcome. However, because of
environmental deterioration, one the one hand, new serious diseases continuously arise, and on the other hand cancers have become the
main human disease. Due to lack of knowledge on basic mechanism of cancer pathogenesis, there will be a long time before human overcoming
cancers. One factor, limiting research on cancers, is lack of optimum model animal. Although mouse models of some cancers were established
by a group of scientists, mainly from American, these models are helpless in further theoretical researches and further clinical drug screen.
For example, 90% kidney cancer in human are resulted from mutated or inactivated VHL gene, but in VHL conditional knockout mouse
model no cancer was induced. In western countries, due to resources limitation and local ethic, primate model for kidney cancer was hardly
created, which seriously hinders further researches on this cancer.
Therefore, based on domestic resources and open to the world, establishing a research center, focusing on nonhuman primate researches
and primate model for human diseasesï¼Œ is necessary for biological science development in our country.
1.2 National strategic need
Along with population growth, environmental deterioration, overuse of chemical pesticide and antibiotics abuse, on the one hand, human will
suffer from new major diseases, for instance, AIDS, SARS and so forth; on the other hand, wildlife, especially nonhuman primate, the
important animal model for biomedicine, are becoming less and less.There are 224 extant species of primate all over the world, but most of
them being endangered because their habitats were severely disturbed and destroyed. In many countries, nonhuman primate resources are
rigorously conserved and highly regarded as national strategy resources. For example, in 1940s, about 20, 000, 000 rhesus monkey wildly lived
in India, but due to a large amount of export and lack of food, the number decreased to 180, 000 in 1980. In that time, Indian government
realized the importance of this problem, thereby, rhesus monkey export was banned and conservation was strengthened. By 1985, the amount
of rhesus monkey increased to 460, 000 and ban on export is still valid up to now.
In April 2002, considering strategy resource in scientific research, two components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the Office of AIDS Research (OAR) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) held the workshop on “Rhesus Monkey Demands in
Biomedical Research” at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The Panel’ recommendations are summarized as follows:
a shortage of rhesus monkey available for biomedical in America; enhance the national capacity for conducting nonhuman primate research;
develop a comprehensive national primate plan and recognize the need for longterm planning and stable funding for nonhuman primate resources.
In U.S.A, previous seven regional primate research centers were become national primate research center and a new center was established.
The panel recommended that partnerships and collaborations with source countries would help ensure a continuing supply of nonhuman primate
and enhance genetic diversity in captive breeding colonies. It was summarized that shortage of nonhuman primate could seriously impede scientific
progress and failure to provide such critical research resources may seriously jeopardize our nation's ability to protect its citizens from bioterrorism,
AIDS, and other major threats to human health.
China is one of the countries with abundant wild nonhuman primate, with 21 species (10% present primate species all over the world) and 15 species
of primate present in Yunnan Province. In late 1980s, biomedical researches and pharmacy quickly developed,therefore demand of primate increased
greatly. In that time, primate export was banned in India, which also accelerated primate breeding and export in China. Every year more than 20000
primate, most being rhesus monkey, are exported or transmitted from China, some even by illegal way. Nonhuman primate resources are suffered
fearful destruction in China, which has influenced national strategic reserve of research resources.
Although China is one of the countries with abundant primate resources, but no one national primate research center has been established up to now.
Therefore, establishment of KPRC can provide a national technology support for biomedical researches, carry out standardization of nonhuman
primate experiment, and reduce capture pressure on wild primate animals.
Establishing the center can advance scientific progress, benefit people health, help protection of strategic research resources, enhance national c
ompetitive abilities and protect our citizens from major diseases and bioterrorism.
1.3 Enhance the possibility of creating breakthrough in biological science
Biomedicine mainly concerns human health. Quick progresses in development biology, genomics and immunology, bring new hope to therapies
of human diseases in 21centrury. Somatic cell nuclear transfer combined with embryonic stem cell techniques, namely therapeutic cloning, may
lead to therapeutic breakthrough for some major human disease, such as neural degenerative disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and so on.
Primate model is the key to achieve these breakthroughs. Due to shortage of primate resources in western countries, conducting researches
with primate model isn’t readily.
Therefore, from the perspective of national development strategy, we have advantages of resources and policies in researching and
developing (R&D) new drug and therapy, which offers Chinese scientists some precedence in primate researches.
Additionally, the primate research center, focusing on primate model and biomedical research, will promote interdisciplinary synergies
(crosscutting) and cooperation, and create new discipline field. For example, crosscutting between traditional immunology, virology
and genomics lets us know more about interaction between virus genome and host genome, and provides new ideas for R&D of vaccine
and drug. Based on primate model, some research production can be directly applied to human. With enough effort, in a short term,
much progress can be made by Chinese scientists in some research fields of biomedicine, such as primate comparative genomics related
to function and evolution, basic and application researches on primate model of human major diseases, and regenerative medicine.
KPRC, on the one hand, can make full use of abundant primate resources in Yunnan province and accumulation and advantage of
Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) in primate research for decades of years, developing biomedical researches on primate model of
human disease, and providing technological platform and animal resources for innovation system of biomedicine research in CAS
and our country. On the other hand, largescale breeding of primate lab animal can reduce the capture pressure imposed on wildlife,
also is an effective way of off site conservation for endangered animal.
2. Construction Objectives and Contents
Establishment of KPRC is one great action in the new phase “achieving leapfrog and sustainable development by innovation”
of KIP, is embodiment of the policy of strengthening research on population and human health to meet national need. KPRC will
endeavor to become an international and first-class base for scientific research, animal resource, international cooperation,
technology transfer and academyprovince cooperation, functioning as one important base for biomedical research in China,
even in the world. Construction objectives of KPRC are listed as follows:
Gradually multiply the amount of primate animal housed, perform the standard of Association for Assessment and Accreditation
of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), and become a lab animal resource base of international standards, supporting
biomedical researches in CAS, China and other countries.
Through domestic and international cooperation system, develop multidisciplinary crosscutting between primate biology and biomedicine,
and strive for breakthroughs in researches on AIDS vaccine and drug, immunoreaction, cell survival and death regulation and genetic
relationship of cardiovascular disease and tumor, and embryonic stem cells. Advance Chinese research on primate model and pre-clinical
research to the first-class international level.
Establish an open base for research and development (R&D) of primate model of human disease, serve as an international technique
and cooperation base for biomedical research and assessment of vaccine and drug.
As to management and regulation, learn from domestic and foreign organization, so as to become an international base forcross-cutting, combination and communication, thereby ensure sustaining progress.
Based on studious work, become national medial laboratory animal base and acquire accreditation from U.S.FDA and other international
authority associations. Pay attention to national and local needs; actively seek resource so as to maintain sustainable development.
Based on previous achievement, integration should be enhanced in discipline layout and researchstaff makeup, so as to achieve
great progress, become Chinese comprehensive research base on major human health problems, and advance Chinese biomedicine research level.
3. Present Bases
3.1 Present infrastructure
Kunming primate research center (KPRC) now houses about 1500 primate animals, including rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta),
bear macaque (Macaca arctoides), assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis), cynomolgus monkey (Macaca fascicularis),
black snubnosed monkeyRhinopithecus bietiï¼‰, pigtail macaque (Macaca nemestrina) and Chinese tree shrews (Tupaia belangert chinensis).
There are several lab already established, including animal microorganism examination lab, animal nutrition lab, clinical inspection and
pathology lab. Researches on nutrition, reproduction, growth and development, genetic background detection, disease diagnosis,
prevention and treatment have been conducted in rhesus macaque, leaf monkey, gibbon, black snubnosed monkey and Chinese tree
shrews. The center has the first computer database system of primate lab animal, including data on animal genetic, breeding, disease and
quarantine recorded according to international standards. In the suburb of Kunming, Huahongdong, a secluded location, there is a high-class primate animal laboratory, of international criterion, ISO class 7 of Cleanroom Classification Standards and the area of 3000 m2,
available for 360 primate animals at the same time engaged in experiments.
3.2 Research bases and talents
Research department of Kunming primate research center (KPRC) affiliated to Kunming institute of zoology (KIZ) are the most
comprehensive research base of primate biology in China, have molecular immunopharmacology lab, molecular immunobiology lab,
reproduction and development biology lab, behavioral ecology and conservation biology research group, comparative genomics and
function genomics lab, cognitive disorder pathology lab and the CAS International Partnership Creative Group “Biomedical Research
on Primate Models of Human Diseases”.
Considering research front in this field and social development demands in China, scientists of KPRC are doing research in areas as follows:
international standardization of primate lab animal,; primate models of AIDS; brain cognitive function and therapy of cognitive disorder;
primate embryonic stem cell and somatic cell nuclear transfer; primate ecology and conservation biology. The staff comprises 9 senior
investigators, and every group consists of 3,5 researcher, some postdoctoral positions and graduate students. They have done good works
on rhesus monkey oocyte maturation and early embryo development, brain remember function, model of psychosis and neuropathy,
AIDS model and drug screen. Principal researchers all have study or research experience in foreign countries, such as America, Britain,
Japan and other countries. There is a capable and outstanding management team and a supportive team of lab animal standard breeding in
this center. Particularly, some outstanding scientists, like Xin Lu, have joined the CAS International Partnership Creative Group.
4. Management and Administration system
Director of the center works under the leadership of the management board and is responsible for center affairs. Scientific advisory board
and the committee of animal welfare and resource management are set up. The center also consists of department of lab animal, research
groups and labs, and administration department. Chairman of the Management Board is senior investigator Zhen Zhu, Chairman of the scientific
advisory board is CAS academician Zhu Chen, and director of the center is senior investigator Weizhi Ji.
The management board is in charge of great issues, including major research projects and development direction, important affairs about
projects layout, management, fund application and utilization and other things, also censoring the routine of the center, budget and final
accounts, and all regulations.
Scientific advisory board, consisting of a decade of famous experts in related fields, is in charge of advising and examining objectives, tasks,
research directions, and projects of the center, evaluating scientific progress and center running, and helpin center organize academic activities
of high level.
The animal welfare and resource management committee takes charge of supervising animal welfare and resource, ensuring abidance by international
and Chinese laws, regulations and rules.
Director of the center takes charge of carrying out decision of the management board and routine works, organizing scientific research activities,
engaging personnel, actualizing research projects, establish management rules, raising money and applying funds. Director submits annual report to
the management and Kunming institute of zoology.
The CAS International Partnership Creative Group “Biomedical Research on Primate Models of Human Diseases” comprises a
decade of experts from China, America and Britain. By interdisciplinary synergies and crosscutting, making use of abundant primate resource
in Yunnan and advantage of Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ) in primate research, they will develop primate models for human major
diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, tumor, cardiovascular disease, and psychosis and neuropathy. Moreover,
they endeavor to explore pathogenesis of these diseases, search strategies for disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and conduct related basic
researches. A set of primate research technology and rules, including animal breeding, pathogen examination, genetic relationship of population
and animal ethic, will be set up, according to international standards. Establishment of primate embryonic stem cell lines is also one important
The center will become a base of primate breeding, animal experiments and research, mainly of
extant species in China and some of foreign special species, providing technological support and lab animal resource for biomedical research
and assessment of vaccine and drug. Abroad members of this group consist of Prof. Xin Lu, senior investigator Xiaoning Xu, Dr. Bin Gao, Prof.
Youwen He and Yufang Shi. Chinese members of this group comprise 6 senior investigators, Bing Su, Bingyu Mao, Yongtang Zheng, Yuanye Ma,
Huatang Zhang and Weizhi Ji.
Foreign famous scientists joining the center
Just in preparation to establish the center, some foreign scholars had showed their willing to join the center. Professor Fraser Wilson, from America,
have signed a contract of full work for 3 years and already begun work. Other three scientists will work here in part time. With the establishment of
KPRC, more outstanding scientists should join the center.