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Rhesus Monkey Breeding and Research

This colony provides a national resource of rhesus monkeys and their tissues to carry out research benefiting the scientific community. The RMBRR maintains a colony of monkeys that have been derived to be specific pathogen free for members of both the herpes and retrovirus families. Over its history, the RMBRR has developed specialized management techniques, housing facilities and highly trained staff to avail these purposefully bred laboratory models, which are 93% genetically identical to humans, to researchers worldwide.


Historically, this animal model has been instrumental in research involving blood classification, polio vaccine development, and drug safety and efficacy while currently they are the preferred model for studying the mechanisms of immunodeficiency diseases. Their susceptibility to Simian Immunodeficiency Virus and their homology to the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) Class I, II and TCR genes make them valuable in HIV research. They are currently the models of choice for HIV/AIDS vaccine development and study. Other areas of research include atherosclerosis, myocarditis, alcoholism, diabetes, cancer and aging.

Specific Aims

The overall objectives of this resource are to improve the resources available at the RMBRR and to conduct resource-relevant research that improves both the health of the rhesus colony and its usefulness for studies of human disease. The Resource and Management Core is responsible for providing animal resources, tissues/biological fluids, cell lines, expert advice and research support to NIH extramural and intramural programs, other federal agencies and to private sponsors. The Resource-Related Research Core conducts research to improve the health of the animals maintained with special emphasis on studies that will enhance the usefulness of the rhesus as a model for studies of human disease.

Resource and Management Core

  • It maintains a national research resource of rhesus monkeys at the RMBRR using exemplary standards in husbandry, veterinary care and behavioral management.
  • It improves the biomedical research value of the RMBRR by providing an Experimental Tools and Laboratory Reference Value Registry, and a web site with information about the resources available.

Resource-Related Research Core

  • It phenotypes the colony according to the prevalence of MHC haplotypes.
  • It characterizes and speciates those Helicobacter sp. that are present.
  • It continues research on the cause and heritability of amyloidosis in colony members.
  • It continues research on the prevalence of colonic adenocarcinoma and its possible hereditary effects.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center