The Nonhuman Primate Laboratory


The Primate Laboratory was established in the Department of Psychiatry of SUNY Downstate upon the arrival of Leonard A. Rosenblum, Ph.D. in 1961. Jeremy D. Coplan, M.D., initially trained in the Laboratory as a Resident in Psychiatry, joined the Downstate faculty in 2000. Upon retirement of Dr. Rosenblum, Dr. Coplan, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, serves as Director of Laboratory. The work of the laboratory has been continuously funded by a variety of federal (and nonfederal) agencies since its inception and has led to almost 200 publications in a variety of disciplines from psychobiology and psychopharmacology to neuroscience, depression and anxiety disorders. A primary focus of the laboratory has been the creation of nonhuman primate models of various forms of psychopathology and their developmental antecedents. Recent work, in collaboration with members of the Departments of Medicine and Surgery has also included consideration of psychoimmunological effects of rearing and stress as well as the ontogeny of obesity and lipid physiology.


The primate colony is composed of maternally reared, socially housed bonnet macaques (M. radiata) all of which were born and raised in the Primate Laboratory.


Most of the group pens are fronted by one-way observation windows for unobtrusive observation and contain automatic watering systems and a variety of shelves and perch sites. No natural lighting is present in order to avoid seasonal fluctuations and artificial lighting is automatically regulated in each room; temperature and humidity are similarly controlled. All subjects have been conditioned for removal from the pens through special doors leading to hand-carried transport cages.

Common Procedures

The staff of the Primate Laboratory regularly engages in systematic computer-recorded behavioral observations of individual members of social groups according to fixed protocols. Blood draws and CSF taps have also been a regular part of the lab's procedures for a number of years. Apparatus developed in this lab allow systematic recording of cognitive functioning (via computer controlled video tasks) and fluid ingestion, including alcohol and drugs (via a computer system termed IIMOCS: Individual Intake Monitoring and Control System) in each of the free-moving individual members of social groups.

The work in the primate laboratory has now broadened extensively to include a range of cutting-edge investigative techniques which are designed to explore the impact of early life stress and mechanisms of antidepressant function.These include:

  1. Volumetric studies using magnetic resonance imaging
  2. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  3. Diffusion tensor imaging
  4. Neurohistology including neurogenesis and angiogenesis in the hippocampus
  5. DNA typing for the serotonin transporter gene
  6. Epigenetic studies for DNA methylation studies
  7. Euglycemic insulin clamp procedures
  8. Morphometrics including body mass index and abdominal adiposity
  1. Perera TD, Lu D, Thirumangalakudi L, Smith EL, Yaretskiy A, Rosenblum LA, Kral, JG, Coplan JD. Correlations between Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Metabolic Indices in Adult Nonhuman Primates. Neural Plast. 2011;2011:875307. Epub 2011 Aug
  2. Kinnally EL, Feinberg C, Kim D, Ferguson K, Leibel R, Coplan JD, John Mann J. DNA methylation as a risk factor in the effects of early life stress Brain Behav Immun. 2011 May 11. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Perera TD, Dwork AJ, Keegan KA, Thirumangalakudi L, Lipira CM, Joyce N, Lange C, Higley JD, Rosoklija G, Hen R, Sackeim HA, Coplan JD. Necessity of hippocampal neurogenesis for the therapeutic action of antidepressants in adult nonhuman primates. PLoS One. 2011 Apr 15;6(4):e17600.
  4. Coplan JD, Abdallah CG, Mathew SJ, Shungu DC, Mao X, Smith EL, Kaufman D, Gorman JM, Owens MJ, Nemeroff CB, Banerji MA, Rosenblum LA, Kral JG. Metabolic syndrome and neurometabolic asymmetry of hippocampus in adult bonnet monkeys. Physiol Behav. 2011 Apr 1;103(5):535-539. [Epub ahead of print]
  5. Jackowski A, Perera TD, Abdallah CG, Garrido G, Tang CY, Martinez J, Mathew SJ, Gorman JM, Rosenblum LA, Smith EL, Dwork AJ, Shungu DC, Kaffman A, Gelernter J, Coplan JD, Kaufman J. Early-life stress, corpus callosum development, hippocampal volumetrics, and anxious behavior in male nonhuman primates. Psychiatry Res. 2011 Apr 30;192(1):37-44. Epub 2011 Mar 5.
  6. Coplan JD, Mathew SJ, Abdallah CG, Mao X, Kral JG, Smith EL, Rosenblum LA, Perera TD, Dwork AJ, Hof PR, Gorman JM, Shungu DC. Early-life stress and neurometabolites of the hippocampus. Brain Res. 2010 Oct 28;1358:191-9. Epub 2010 Aug 14.
  7. Coplan JD, Abdallah CG, Kaufman J, Gelernter J, Smith EL, Perera TD, Dwork AJ, Kaffman A, Gorman JM, Rosenblum LA, Owens MJ, Nemeroff CB. Early-life stress, corticotropin-releasing factor, and serotonin transporter gene: a pilot study. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2011 Feb;36(2):289-93. Epub 2010 Aug 6.
  8. Coplan JD, Abdallah CG, Tang CY, Mathew SJ, Martinez J, Hof PR, Smith EL, Dwork AJ, Perera TD, Pantol G, Carpenter D, Rosenblum LA, Shungu DC, Gelernter J, Kaffman A, Jackowski A, Kaufman J, Gorman JM. The role of early life stress in development of the anterior limb of the internal capsule in nonhuman primates. Neurosci Lett. 2010 Aug 16;480(2):93-6. Epub 2010 Jun 10.
  9. Abdallah CG, Tang CY, Mathew SJ, Martinez J, Hof PR, Perera TD, Shungu DC,Gorman JM, Coplan JD. Diffusion tensor imaging in studying white matter complexity: a gap junction hypothesis. Neurosci Lett. 2010 May 21;475(3):161-4. Epub 2010 Apr 3
  10. Stevens HE, Leckman JF, Coplan JD, Suomi SJ. Risk and resilience: early manipulation of macaque social experience and persistent behavioral and neurophysiological outcomes. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009;48:114-127.
  1. Coplan JD, Andrews MW, Rosenblum LA, Owens MJ, Friedman S, Gorman JM, Nemeroff CB. Persistent elevations of cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of corticotropin-releasing factor in adult nonhuman primates exposed to early-life stressors: implications for the pathophysiology of mood and anxiety disorders. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996;93:1619-1623. Cited 516 Times Google Scholar
  2. Perera TD, Coplan JD, Lisanby SH, Lipira CM, Arif M, Carpio C, Spitzer G, Santarelli L, Scharf B, Hen R, Rosoklija G, Sackeim HA, Dwork AJ. Antidepressant-induced neurogenesis in the hippocampus of adult nonhuman primates. J Neurosci. 2007;27:4894-4901. Cited 167 Times Google Scholar
  3. Coplan JD, Trost RC, Owens MJ, Cooper TB, Gorman JM, Nemeroff CB, Rosenblum LA. Cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of somatostatin and biogenic amines in grown primates reared by mothers exposed to manipulated foraging conditions. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55:473-477. Cited 122 Times Google Scholar
  4. Coplan JD, Smith EL, Altemus M, Scharf BA, Owens MJ, Nemeroff CB, Gorman JM, Rosenblum LA. Variable foraging demand rearing: sustained elevations in cisternal cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-releasing factor concentrations in adult primates. Biol Psychiatry. 2001;50:200-204. Cited 88 Times Google Scholar