Integrated Vervet/AGM Research & Resources

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The Vervet Research Colony

The Vervet Research Colony (VRC), located at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, encourages collaborations with investigators wishing to conduct research with nonhuman primates. The VRC is a fully pedigreed and genotyped breeding colony containing more than 500 Caribbean-origin African green monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus). Animals range in age from newborn through 25 years. While monkeys can be purchased and taken off-site, the VRC staff is fully prepared to conduct research on-site in collaboration with investigators who do not have their own primate facilities or who are not familiar with handling primates.

Among the nonhuman primates (NHPs), the African green monkey -often referred to the “vervet”- has become a major biomedical research model, second only to the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) in publication citations. The species has proven especially useful for neurogenetic studies, the creation of widely-used cell lines, and vaccine testing. It is also a model of choice for cardiometabolic investigations because it resembles human beings in lipoprotein biology and in susceptibility to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the vervet is emerging as a crucial model for investigation of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), for which it is the most abundant natural host species.

Importantly, the vervet is the initial species to be targeted through a new approach to NHP genome sequencing now being implemented by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). While previous NHP genome sequencing projects (notably rhesus, chimpanzee, and baboon) produced stand-alone reference sequences, the explicit goal of the Vervet Genome Sequencing Project (VGSP) is to identify genome wide genetic variation through the sequencing of large numbers of unrelated vervets. The VGSP efforts will translate, within the next 18-24 months, into the most comprehensive genome wide, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) resource available for any NHP.

Current studies at the VRC include those relating to cardiometabolic disorders (diabetes, hypertension, obesity), infectious disease (influenza, plague, simian immunodeficiency virus), neuroscience (cognitive function, substance abuse, psychiatric abnormalities), and general studies in reproductive medicine (timing and determinants of menarche and menopause), and aging (functional deficits, changes in body composition, immune senescence).
Investigators wishing to purchase monkeys, use the resources of the VRC, or explore potential collaborations with the on-site VRC faculty and staff may contact Dr. Jay R. Kaplan, Colony Director (

The Vervet Research Colony Tissue Repository and Consortium

The Vervet Research Repository and Consortium was created to maximize the scientific value of the tissue bank associated with the Vervet Research Colony (VRC).
The VRC a unique non-human primate research resource consisting of a single, eight-generation deep extended pedigree containing more than 500 living animals, with phenotypic and genotypic data available for several hundred additional pedigree members that are no longer in the colony. The Tissue Repository and Consortium banks tissues from multiple organ systems and biological information obtained from these tissues. These tissues are obtained and studied by a wide range of investigators (nationally and internationally) who together comprise the VRC Tissue Repository and Consortium. The four operating principles of this entity are:
1) tissue samples will be obtained for research projects that are compatible with the systems biology and genomic objectives of the Vervet Research Colony;
2) the samples will be maintained in a repository and be made available to qualified investigators through an application process;
3) RNA will be obtained under uniform conditions from all tissues collected through the efforts of collaborating investigators and similarly will be made available to qualified investigators;
4) it is the ultimate objective that all data derived from tissues obtained through will be made publicly available following an appropriate embargo period that protects the interests of the collaborating investigators.
Investigators wishing to access the repository should contact Dr. J. Mark Cline for information (


Vervet monkeys inhabit a broad range of habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Investigating vervet populations in their native habitats offers extraordinary opportunities for generating well-powered genetic association studies of a wide variety of phenotypes.
Drs. Trudy Turner (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Paul Grobler (University of the Free State, South Africa) and Joseph Lorenz (Central Washington University) and their colleagues have initiated such studies at several sites in Southern Africa (as shown on GoogleMaps via the link below). The availability of precise geographical coordinates for these study sites will enable longitudinal investigations of these populations and facilitate elucidation of the broad evolutionary questions of the ways in which ecology influences behavior, physiology and anatomy, social interactions influence genetics, genetics influences social interactions and the events of an individual life link to evolutionary processes.
  See the vervet survey sites  arrow

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