Primate Priorities— An International Perspective

John P. Hearn, MSc, PhD


It is a real pleasure and privilege to open this conference on the future of primate research and the resources required. The challenges and scientific opportunities are enormous and the resources are limited. The study of nonhuman primate systems at all levels, from molecular through systemic, social through environmental, is the closest we can come to experimental investigation of many of the fundamental factors that influence human biology. In the past 50 years, there have been enormous advances in our understanding of primate biology. We now have an array of new research tools and technologies. The rich scientific agenda that we are about to enjoy at this symposium, replete with new data, is proof of these capacities. It is timely to ask how we should set course for the future and what the priorities should be in investing the sparse resources to the best advantage.

Without being overly dramatic, it is fair to say that most of us in this company would not be alive, or would be debilitated, if it were not for the improvements in health that have resulted from primate research. A few simple examples include polio and other vaccines, antibiotics tailored to protect against specific diseases, transplantation and surgical technologies. Some argue that the needs for primate research are now met so that

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