canada africa partner reservation Louisiana could see a new monkey research facility | Education

Louisiana could see a new monkey research facility | Education

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Acadiana could see a new non-human primate research center in the future.

The Louisiana State University Board of Trustees approved a request from LSU-Eunice Chancellor Nancee Sorenson at its April meeting to make a proposal to bring the research center to life.

Sorenson told The Advocate that she is “excited” about the opportunity, but that there are still “many steps to be completed” between now and approval for the center’s creation.

“It must be aligned with our research priorities and meet the approval of our board and system,” she said. “I’m usually a possibility thinker. Innovation, positivity and creativity should be at the top of our brains.”

The center would be funded entirely by outside sources and there would be no capital risk to the LSU system, Sorenson told the board of supervisors. She did not say how much money was involved. The center could be developed as part of a lease on an 80-acre portion of land belonging to LSU-E.

If everything is approved and the center is built, it would benefit students on all LSU campuses and the Eunice community, Sorenson said.

“This will have a huge benefit to the economy and workforce development, not just through the teaching and learning of our students,” she said. “But it will create permanent jobs in the Eunice region, which, if you know the area, are desperately needed. The quality and caliber of these courses will be incredibly unique to the region.”

The immediate impact would be job creation: about 30 permanent jobs in the first phase and about 65 once it starts fully functioning as a research centre.

The center could provide multiple points for teaching and learning. It could be a hub for those in the biomedical or veterinary fields, Sorenson said. And it can be used by those seeking certification, an aspiring physician, or someone pursuing a doctorate in research.

“It could bring benefits to the entire (LSU) system, which could generate additional research revenue and expenditures,” she said. “It could have far-reaching consequences.”

There may also be opportunities to conduct research for pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies. Sorenson said she has been told that pharmaceutical companies want more primate research centers established in the United States.

Having more U.S.-based centers could improve the quality of research, ensure more humane treatment of animals and better protect intellectual property, according to a 2023 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

According to that report, in 2021 there were nearly 150 facilities that used non-human primates for education, testing, experimentation, research or operations.

Tulane University in New Orleans, which is part of the National Primate Research Centers, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have non-human primate research centers.

Sorenson did not have a timeline for when a proposal could be presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors for final approval, which would be the next step toward creating a facility. Both centers have come under scrutiny by animal rights activists over their treatment of the monkeys in their care.

“This would be the equivalent of LSU-E winning the lottery, so to speak,” Sorenson told the Board of Supervisors. “But it’s not just about us. It’s about the whole system.”