Using Monkey Models to Understand and Treat Human Brain Disorders



Organized by Bob Wurtz (National Institutes of Health), Beth Buffalo (University of Washington), Tony Movshon (New York University)

In recent decades, mice have become the dominant animal model for studying the basis of human physiology and disease. Mice are genetically tractable, and, as mammals, they have brains and bodily functions broadly similar to ours. But the operative word is “broadly”, and in the specific study of brain functions and brain disorders, the differences between mice and humans are great. To study the higher functions of the human brain, we must often turn to model organisms whose brains are more like ours.
Monkeys provide the best practical animal model we have for the function of the human brain. The unique knowledge gained from monkey research has greatly benefited and influenced the understanding and treatment of human brain disorders. These human benefits, however, are frequently not realized, and the principles which would rationally lead an investigator to choose a monkey model over a mouse are nowhere clearly articulated. The purpose of this colloquium is retrospective and prospective: first, to summarize and evaluate the contributions of monkey research to understanding and treating human brain disorders, and second, to explore the most promising future research directions that will lead to advances in the treatment of human diseases.
This two-day colloquium considers a core set of functions in which monkey models are critical. The colloquium begins with comparisons of human and monkey functional anatomy and behavior, and then frames the conversation with a comparison of the monkey and mouse. Successive sections then concentrate on contributions in development, aging, mood, and recovery of visual and motor function, areas where research on brain disorders using monkeys has made substantial contributions.
A subsequent collection of articles based on these presentations will appear in a special issue of PNAS, which will provide a core linked source of information for those wishing to learn about the contribution of monkey research to understanding the human brain and its disorders.


  • When

  • Sunday, January 6, 2019 - Tuesday, January 8, 2019
    6:30 PM - 5:15 PM
    Pacific Time

  • Where

  • Beckman Center
    100 Academy
    Irvine, California 92617

Registration Fee

Registration fee is $300 and includes all meals on the agenda and transportation between hotel and conference center.

Cancellation policy:  100% refund if cancelled by 12/10/18;  50% refund if cancelled by 12/24/18

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