December NICHD Director’s podcast features primate research

The December 2012 NICHD Director’s podcast is now online.  This month’s podcast focuses on the research of NICHD’s Laboratory of Comparative Ethology.  Ethology is the study of human and animal behaviors and ethologists tend to study animals in their natural settings.  Much of lab’s research is conducted at the NIH Animal Center located on a 509-acre expanse of farmland in rural Montgomery County, about 30 miles from the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.  Lab researchers study rhesus macaques and a few other non human primates.  An important component of the lab is an open-air enclosure that houses a free-ranging troop of rhesus macaques.  This month’s guests are the lab chief, Stephen Suomi, Ph.D, whose research involves the interaction between genetics, environment and behavior, postdoctoral fellow Annika Paukner, whose studies involve rhesus monkeys and the role that imitation plays in social development and bonding, and Amanda Detmer Erard, the postdoctoral fellow who manages the open air enclosure.

Accompanying the December podcast are two videos of the primates at the NIH Animal Care Facility.

The first shows footage of the free ranging rhesus macaque troop (Macaca mulatta) at a pond inside their five acre enclosure.  This video shows the animals interacting with each other, on the shore of the pond, and in the water.

The second video shows research on a 2009 study which found that capuchin monkeys (Cebus apaella) preferred to interact with human beings who imitated them, rather than with human beings who did not.

Research Perspectives is a monthly podcast providing updates on the latest scientific findings from the institute.  Each month, NICHD Director Alan E. Guttmacher talks with NICHD scientists and program staff about findings from their areas of expertise.  The series provides a means for researchers to go beyond the descriptions in news releases, to discuss the implications of the research, what the findings may mean for patients and members of the public, as well as what direction future studies might take.

The December podcast is available at http:// and the transcript at http://

Previous NICHD Research Perspectives are available at http://


About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at

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