Abstract # 27:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 11:40 AM-12:00 PM: Session 3 (Crystal Ballroom) Oral Presentation


WILL THEIR MEDICAL INFORMATION DIE WITH THE AGING APES?

J. Robertson1,2 and J. M. Erwin1,2
1Center for Comparative Oncology and Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, Hagerstown, MD, 2Foundation for Comparative and Conservation Biology
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     During their lives in captivity, apes and other nonhuman primates are often closely observed, their health is monitored, and they receive clinical care. The results of such observations in the past, have often ended up as cryptic notes on paper records, stored under a variety of conditions. Even when electronic databases have been established, including detailed records involving standard pathology nomenclature, many records have been sequestered in zoological, academic, or research institutions in ways that have not encouraged access nor database mining. The few exceptions have demonstrated the potential of these databases and archives for comparative bioinformatics. Given the lifespan and conditions of husbandry of many primates, continuity is lacking in many records (due to types of observations, relative expertise of observers, frequency of observation, and quality of medical information content). Even flawed records from clinical observations can be an important source of comparative medical information, and with appropriate attention and improvement, such records can dramatically benefit nonhuman and human primates. Loss of archived information and failure to develop and use available bioinformatics tools for current and future primate resources, would impede medical progress in ways that would harm all primates. We urge increased cooperation and collaboration in the mining of databases and sharing of primate tissues for the benefit of all primates. It is ethically essential that we learn more from each individual primate.