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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.

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. 

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. 

Lyme Disease

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

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. 


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. 


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

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. 

Zika Virus

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedesspecies mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus.) Infection with Zika during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects.