Science at ONPRC

The major research areas of the Center are organized into six Divisions:  Metabolic Health & Disease; Comparative Medicine; Genetics; Neuroscience; Pathobiology & Immunology; and Reproductive and Developmental Sciences. These Divisions provide the resources that enable the Center to develop its research programs, enhance the research environment by bringing together a critical mass of scientists with similar interests, and develop collaborative research efforts with external investigators. Having well-defined research divisions is also important in our efforts to increase the number of graduate students and fellows at the Center.

The Division of Metabolic Health & Disease investigates a number of aspects of nonhuman primate biology relevant to human obesity and diabetes, including evaluation of disease mechanisms and potential therapeutic approaches.  Specific current areas of investigation include effects of maternal nutrition on offspring immune function and development, metabolic comorbidities of HIV antiretroviral therapy, and metabolic aspects of long COVID.

The Division of Comparative Medicine has been reorganized, in keeping with the increase in the NHP population, funded research projects using NHPs, the development of new animal facilities, and the increasingly complex nature of managing multiple disease models, aging, housing, genetics, etc. DCM plays a critical role by providing nonhuman primates and expertise to research projects in all divisions.

The Division of Genetics was established in 2018 to replace the Primate Genetics Section in recognition of the strategic value and long-term opportunities in the field. Research in the Division is supported by a colony pedigree comprising 8,650 rhesus macaques, many of which are have been analyzed by whole-genome sequencing. Division scientists develop novel methods for statistical and experimental analysis of genomes and apply these to study the genomic and epigenetic basis of human disease.

The Division of Neuroscience conducts translational research on neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental, and neurobehavioral models of human nervous system diseases and behavioral disorders. Our longitudinal designs incorporate in vivo brain imaging and genomic and endocrine measures to understand disease mechanisms and to be on forefront of developing gene therapy methods for treating brain disorders.

The Division of Pathobiology & Immunology is the focus for all AIDS-related research, as well as studies on a number of other key infectious human viral pathogens. This division provides a similar focus for new biodefense initiatives.

The Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences conducts basic and applied research on aspects of reproductive biology that are particularly relevant to understanding human reproduction and to controlling reproductive disorders and fertility, and is responsible for a number of recent advances in reproductive biology and other technologies, notably stem cell biology.

The research in the Divisions is facilitated by access to several NHP Resource Programs (Aging Nonhuman Primates, Infectious Disease, Japanese Macaque, and Obese Nonhuman Primates).  The heads of these Programs report to the Director since their resources are utilized across all five Divisions. These Programs also have oversight committees to ensure that the NHP resources serve the scientific needs of the research programs and are managed in a cost-effective manner.

Coordination and sharing of information between the Divisions is handled in biweekly meetings of the Expanded Executive Leadership Committee. Each of the Scientific Divisions holds divisional meetings and seminars, including "Work in Progress" seminars once per month by Center scientists and veterinarians. Center-wide seminars, presented by luminaries in various fields, are held frequently with the Divisions.  These seminars are open to the broader OHSU community and invited visitors. To encourage scientific exchange in a more relaxed setting, the ONPRC sponsors regularly scheduled socials on Friday afternoons.

An important aspect of our mission as a national resource for biomedical research is facilitating access to research at ONPRC by outside investigators. The Collaborative Research Unit manages access to animals, protocol approvals, and initiation of research by external investigators.