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Diseases We Investigate

Research at the Tulane National Primate Research Center is focused on understanding human health problems, the majority of which are infectious diseases that require the use of nonhuman primates to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and preventive strategies such as vaccines. Below are links to brief descriptions of the main diseases we study and our research efforts to combat each disease.


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is arguably the greatest epidemic currently facing the human race. Globally, AIDS causes more deaths than any other infectious disease, and the number of new cases continues to rise at alarming rates every year. 

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the HIV virus are studied in the Division of Comparative PathologyDivision of Immunology, and Divison of Microbiology.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder that affects approximately three million people in the United States. The only effective treatment of CD requires complete removal of gluten sources from the diet. To facilitate preclinical evaluation of new treatments, we developed rhesus macaque model of CD, i.e., non-human primate model of intestinal tissue transglutaminase (TG2)-associated gluten-sensitive enteropathy. 

Celiac disease is studied in the Division of Microbiology

Krabbé Disease

Krabbé disease, or Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, is a rare, degenerative, enzyme disorder that affects cell organelles called lysosomes. It presents itself in both the central and peripheral nervous system. 


Infection with human T cell leukemia virus-1 (HTLV-I) may have multiple disease outcomes. It can cause adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), a cancer of the blood; tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) or HTLV associated myelopathy (HAM), a neurologic disease, primarily of the lower extremities; and any of a series of inflammatory diseases, such as dermatitis, uveitis, arthritis, thyroditis, or polymyositis. 

Leukemia is studied in the Division of Microbiology.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a debilitating disease caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium, a spirochete, named Borrelia burgdorferi. 

Lyme disease is studied in the Division of Immunology. 


Malaria is a life-threatening, parasitic disease transmitted from person-to-person by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito. 

Malaria is studied in the Division of Comparative Pathology.


Microsporidiosis is an emerging, newly recognized and opportunistic infection of humans that most commonly causes diarrhea and may also cause a wide range of other clinical syndromes. Microsporidiosis, however, has long been recognized to occur in animals. 

Microsporidiosis is studied in The Division of Microbiology.

Respiratory Syncytical Virus

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is one of the most important causes of respiratory illness in infants and young children. It also causes both mild and serious respiratory diseases in older children and adults. 

RSV is studied in The Division of Microbiology.


Rotaviruses, along with noroviruses, are the most common etiological agents of diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Rotaviruses have also been isolated from monkeys, domestic mammals, birds and other species. 

Rotaviruses is studied in The Division of Microbiology.


Tuberculosis (TB) is a life threatening and debilitating disease transmitted through the air from person-to-person by breathing in bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 

Tuberculosis is studied in the Division of Comparative Pathology.

Varicella Zoster Virus

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection is known to have two disease outcomes. The first is varicella, a frequent and highly contagious disease of childhood. More commonly known as chickenpox, it is characterized by fever and severe skin rash. The second is zoster, a disease characterized by extremely painful skin rash that occurs much later in life. 

VZV is studied in the Division of Bacteriology and the Division of Comparative Pathology.

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. It is now thought that WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall.