Texas Biomedical Research Institute

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Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Established 1941 (1941)
Faculty 90
Staff 400
Location United States San Antonio, Texas, USA*
Website www.txbiomed.org

Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed), located in San Antonio, Texas, is an independent biomedical research institution, specializing in genetics and in virology and immunology. Texas Biomed is funded by government and corporate grants and contracts, and donations from the public.

History[edit]

Founded in 1941 by Tom Slick as the Foundation of Applied Research, Texas Biomed became the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education in 1952, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) in 1982, and Texas Biomedical Research Institute on February 1, 2011.

Structure[edit]

Located on a 200-acre (0.81 km2) campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas Biomed employs over 75 doctoral level biomedical scientists, including 28 principal investigators and 400 staff members. Focused on basic biomedical research, the Institute is divided into the Department of Genetics and the Department of Virology & Immunology. The Southwest National Primate Research Center, a part of Texas Biomed, is an international resource that provides specialized facilities and expertise in research with nonhuman primates to investigators from around the US and other countries. It maintains 4,000 nonhuman primates.

Texas Biomed maintains the only privately owned Biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory in the United States, developing bioterrorism defenses and novel strategies against incurable infectious diseases.

The AT&T Genomics Computing Center, "the world's largest computer cluster devoted to statistical genetic analysis," helps scientists find genes that influence susceptibility to diseases at record speed.

Scientific accomplishments[edit]

  • Played key role in developing the current hepatitis B vaccine now administered in 116 countries.
  • Identified genes that influence heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other common health problems.
  • Developed promising hormone-derived therapies with potential to treat breast and prostate cancer.
  • Created methods to diagnose infections with herpes B virus, which is lethal to humans.

Current research projects[edit]

  • Investigating genetic and dietary factors that have major roles in influencing susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Evaluating novel approaches to curing hepatitis C, which infects three percent of the world’s population and is the leading cause of liver failure in the US.
  • Genetically characterizing the parasites which cause malaria and schistosomiasis, with the common goal of developing more effective drugs and disease control strategies for these global health problems.
  • Studying genetic determinants of susceptibility to Chagas disease and intestinal worm infections in order to discover novel strategies for these diseases common in the developing world.

Controversy[edit]

In 2015, it was announced that the institute is under a federal investigation after the death of at least five primates over a five-year period. According to news reports, one monkey was crushed to death by a cage door, another died from strangulation and another from blood poisoning following a traumatic injury.[1][2]

In 2014, the Humane Society of the United States released undercover footage from inside the institute which, according to the animal welfare group, “found a pattern of animal mistreatment, including overcrowding and lack of veterinary care”.[3] The group said their investigation found animals suffering from severe stress and improper treatment after injuries. In response, the institute argued they have “a long-standing commitment to treating animals humanely and with the highest regard for their well-being, and…continuously seek to enhance the care provided to” the animals in their facility.[4]

Between 2012-2015, the institute has been cited by federal inspectors for at least 16 alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.[5] In 2012, the institute was fined $25,714 for alleged violations and two years prior, it paid a $6,094 settlement to the government for additional alleged violations.[6]

The institute says the alleged violations are a result of isolated incidents and are not reflective of their treatment of the monkeys in their laboratories.[7]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Reagan, Mark (18 March 2015). "USDA Finds Five Violations At Texas Biomedical Research Institute". San Antonio Current. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Smith, Cory (24 March 2015). "USDA investigating local research center". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Mylar, Brian (18 November 2014). "Humane Society of U.S. reveals disturbing monkey video from SA". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Mylar, Brian (18 November 2014). "Humane Society of U.S. reveals disturbing monkey video from SA". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Smith, Cory (24 March 2015). "USDA investigating local research center". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Smith, Cory (24 March 2015). "USDA investigating local research center". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Smith, Cory (24 March 2015). "USDA investigating local research center". ABC KSAT 12. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]