Research Facilities

Research Facilities With Chimpanzees

Southwest National Primate Research Center

Affiliated with Texas Biomedical Research Institute; review inspection reports here

Approximate number of chimpanzees: 111 - 160

Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Southwest National Primate Research Center
P.O. Box 760549
San Antonio, TX 78245-0549

SNPRC Director: John L. VandeBerg, PhD

The Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC) receives federal funding for research involving the use of chimpanzees and is one of eight federally supported National Primate Research Centers. The SNPRC is hosted by the Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed), a private research organization formerly known as the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, and is located on their “200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio.”1 In addition to chimpanzees, the SNPRC also houses rhesus macaques, marmosets, tamarins and is “home to the world’s largest colony of baboons for biomedical research,” presently 2,200 out of a total of 3,200 primates.2

The SNPRC’s research emphasis is on nonhuman primate models of human diseases, “including common chronic diseases and infectious diseases [such as AIDS and hepatitis] and the effects that genetics and the environment have on physiological processes and disease susceptibility.”3 They also conduct research involving the evaluation of therapeutic drugs and vaccines against viral agents. Texas Biomed is home to the nation’s only privately owned maximum containment laboratory, a Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab. This lab conducts experiments on animals using “deadly pathogens [such as those that cause Ebola, Dengue fever, SARS, etc.] for which there are no known treatments or vaccines.” Texas Biomed is “the only institution in the country to house both a BSL-4 lab and a national primate research center.”4


In 1999, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded funding to the Southwest Foundation (now Texas Biomed) for the establishment of the SNPRC. This funding allowed Texas Biomed to be “home to the first new national primate research center since the program was established in the 1960s. One of eight in the country, it is the only primate center in the Southwest.”5

In 2007, an inspection report from April 3rd revealed multiple USDA citations against SNPRC for AWA violations. The violations included a necropsy (animal autopsy) performed on a male baboon who was still alive. The USDA veterinarian that conducted the inspection stated, “euthanasia means the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress…euthanasia of one baboon was not accomplished as described above…it was not dead prior to the start of the necropsy procedure.” Several animal organizations filed official complaints against SNPRC with both the USDA and NIH.

Despite these violations, in 2010 the NIH announced that it would transfer all of the chimpanzees housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility to the SNPRC for use in invasive research. This decision was eventually terminated following the release of a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine.

Chimpanzee use

At the SNPRC, chimpanzees have been used for research involving infectious diseases and the development of vaccines for hepatitis A and B. In the past, chimpanzees were also used in AIDS vaccine research, but “currently, their most extensive use is in developing and testing vaccines and drugs for Hepatitis C.” Texas Biomed conducted research on nonhuman primates prior to the creation of the SNPRC and first “initiated a breeding colony of chimpanzees in 1970. Several years ago [Texas Biomed] suspended the breeding program.”


  • Studies on hepatitis A, B, and C, including vaccine development and drug therapies
  • Testing of a monoclonal antibody to treat lymphoma and hepatitis C
  • Comparative studies on brain structure and function between humans and nonhuman primates


The SNPRC receives funding from NIH for the use of chimpanzees in research. In 2011, the center received $7,520,767 for grant P51RR013986, “Southwest National Primate Research Center.” Since 1999, the SNPRC has received over $81 million for this one grant alone.7 In 2011, the SNPRC also received between $2-3 million from NIH for “renovations [that] will include a combination of upgrading and expanding current chimpanzee facilities and converting macaque facilities to accommodate [the transfer of] chimpanzees [from APF].” NIH had anticipated that it would cost around $3 million per year to maintain the SNPRC’s chimpanzee population.8

Texas Biomed itself has an annual budget of nearly $55 million. Of this, “approximately two-thirds… is funded by…grants from the National Institutes of Health and other funding agencies, while another 11 percent comes from contracts with biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. Remaining expenses are met by…foundations, corporations and individuals, as well as earnings from Texas Biomed's permanent endowment.”9


 (1) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). About Texas Biomed. Retrieved from

(2) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). Primates. Retrieved from

(3) National Center for Research Resources. (n.d.). Primate Resources. Retrieved from

(4) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory. Retrieved from

(5) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). Nonhuman Primates. Retrieved from

(6) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). Chimpanzees. Retrieved from

(7) Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System. (n.d.). TAGGS. Available from

(8) National Center for Research Resources. (2010, September 23). Transfer of Chimpanzees from Alamogordo Primate Facility to Southwest National Primate Research Center. NIH Press Release.

 (9) Texas Biomedical Research Institute. (n.d.). About Texas Biomed. Retrieved from

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