Nonhuman Primate Signature Program

The Wake Forest Nonhuman Primate Signature Program uses its nationally recognized capabilities and resources to support CTSA network investigators’ use of nonhuman primate translational models to advance understanding of human health and disease. The Program assists new investigators in overcoming barriers to using nonhuman primate models and disseminates tools and data repositories to the CTSA network and broader research community.


The Primate Signature Program provides support to the Vervet Research Colony (VRC), an NIH national biomedical research resource (P40-OD010965), which is the most highly characterized U.S. monkey population relative to pedigree, phenotype and genotype. This colony consists of approximately 300 Caribbean-origin African green monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus), spanning neonatal to geriatric ages. The colony is managed to optimize studies related to aging, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neonatal health. In addition, historical and lifespan phenotypic data and extensive tissue and data repositories are available for use. The colony also serves as a platform for training veterinarians and other professionals in biomedical research, husbandry, clinical care, and the management of animal resources. All of the animals in the colony are mother-reared in species-typical social groups.

Researchers interested in information about the colony should contact Dr. Matthew Jorgensen. Those interested in obtaining samples or purchasing animals should complete the Vervet Request Form.

Feasibility Study Funds

Each year the Primate Signature Program provides funds for feasibility studies to assist investigators interested in exploring an idea using the vervet colony. Awarded studies are conducted at Wake Forest with significant technical and faculty support with no requirement for awardees to be on-site during the study.

Examples of past studies have included the assessment of:

  • Safer infant anesthesia
  • Novel PET imaging tracers
  • Immune response of vervets to a native HIV envelope protein
  • Therapeutic compound in lowering intraocular pressure
  • Neonatal microbiome and its influence on health and disease
  • Impact of diet and eating pattern on markers of diseases of aging


Kylie Kavanagh, DVM, MS, MPH
Program Leader