Milestone Achievements

The research conducted by the investigators affiliated with the Wake Forest University Primate Center has included a number of "firsts" and other promising breakthroughs in medicine:

  • The first demonstration in any species that dietary trans-fatty acids – in comparison to other dietary fats – adversely affect intra-abdominal fat, insulin sensitivity, and plasma lipids, a finding that has permeated public policy and consciousness.

  • A series of hormonal investigations revealing that premenopausal "protection" from atherosclerosis and osteoporosis is dependent on normal ovarian function and can be eliminated by stress-induced estrogen deficiency, and that exogenous estrogen inhibits early atherogenesis but does not benefit established lesions – another finding that has directly affected clinical and lay perceptions.

  • The first demonstration in a primate that estrogen + progestin therapy – but not estrogen alone – induces abnormal breast proliferation, an observation that preceded by several years the same outcome in the Women’s Health Initiative.

  • Unequivocal evidence that social environment influences brain function and disease-related behavior, as dominant animals experience increased central dopaminergic activity (measured by brain imaging) and – at least in males – reduced risk of substance abuse.  The first demonstration that psychosocial stress exacerbates the development of coronary artery atherosclerosis in males and does so via sympathetic nervous system arousal. The first demonstration that flagellin is a highly effective mucosal adjuvant in the context of a vaccine against pneumonic plague.

  • The first systmatic investigation of the "cardiometabolic syndrome" (which includes obesity, insulin resistance, increases in blood pressure, and an adverse plasma lipid profile) and diabetic therapies in clincially relevant models (both naturally occurring and experimentally induced diabetes.


Quick Reference

Wake Forest Primate Center
Program Director
Jay Kaplan, PhD

Tel: 336-716-1649

E-mail the WFPC at

Wake Forest Primate Center
Wake Forest University
Medical Center Boulevard
Winston-Salem, NC 27157
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Last Updated: 12-31-2013
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