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Yerkes Research Center receives continued full accreditation from AAALAC

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The Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, has received continued full accreditation from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). Such accreditation shows an institution is serious about setting, achieving and maintaining high standards for animal care and use, and is committed to animal welfare in science. This latest review begins the 31st consecutive year of full accreditation for the Yerkes Research Center.

In the official notification letter to the Yerkes Research Center from John Norton, DVM, PhD, president of the AAALAC Council on Accreditation, he commended Yerkes staff for "providing and maintaining a high quality program of laboratory animal care and use."

Among the areas highlighted by Dr. Norton as especially noteworthy are: the strong institutional support for the animal care and use program, the talented clinical and administrative veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary residents who provided excellent oversight, medical care and record keeping; the recently implemented surgical training program; the well maintained animal facilities; the dedicated husbandry, animal care and behavioral staff who were committed to enhancing the welfare of the animals in their care; the comprehensive occupational health and safety program; and the comprehensive disaster plan.

In sharing Dr. Norton's comments, Yerkes director Stuart Zola, PhD, expressed "It is critical for a research institution such as the Yerkes National Primate Research Center to participate in the AAALAC review process. Doing so shows our commitment to animal care and welfare, and maintaining full accreditation recognizes not only the center's commitment but also that of each Yerkes employee."

Joyce Cohen, VMD, associate director for animal resources, served as the lead for this year's reaccreditation. She explained the accreditation process requires an institution first perform an extensive self-evaluation, which for Yerkes included preparing a more than 200-page document detailing the center's animal care program. After submitting the written information, a team of highly qualified AAALAC representatives provided an in-depth, on-site evaluation of Yerkes' animal care and use program. "I am extremely proud of our animal resources team for their daily care of our center's animals and that AAALAC has recognized our center's commitment to animal welfare with continued full accreditation," Dr. Cohen said.

AAALAC International is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. Currently, more than 900 animal care and use programs in 37 countries have earned AAALAC International accreditation, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use. These programs include academic institutions, commercial organizations, agricultural research programs, government agencies, hospitals, nonprofit organizations and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Established in 1930, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center paved the way for what has become the National Institutes of Health-funded National Primate Research Center (NPRC) program. For more than eight decades, the Yerkes Research Center has been dedicated to conducting essential basic science and translational research to advance scientific understanding and to improve human health and well-being. Today, the Yerkes Research Center is one of only eight NPRCs. The center provides leadership, training and resources to foster scientific creativity, collaboration and discoveries, and research at the center is grounded in scientific integrity, expert knowledge, respect for colleagues, an open exchange of ideas and compassionate, quality animal care.

Within the fields of microbiology and immunology, neurologic diseases, neuropharmacology, behavioral, cognitive and developmental neuroscience, and psychiatric disorders, the center's research programs are seeking ways to: develop vaccines for infectious and noninfectious diseases; understand the basic neurobiology and genetics of social behavior and develop new treatment strategies for improving social functioning in social disorders such as autism; interpret brain activity through imaging; increase understanding of progressive illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases; unlock the secrets of memory; treat drug addiction; determine how the interaction between genetics and society shape who we are; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.

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