The section aims to elucidate the evolutionary processes and diversity of such morphological traits as encephalization, hominoidization, the development of specialized locomotor styles such as bipedalism, functional adaptation of sensory organs, ontogeny process, using a wide encompassing multidisciplinary approach.
Systematics and Phylogeny
To understand the process of primate evolution, we take a multidisciplinary approach in the investigation of the morphology and distribution of living and fossil primates, taking into account of the effects of regional and global environmental changes.
Ecology and Conservation
We conduct fieldwork in Japan, Africa, and Southeast Asia to study population dynamics, feeding and behavioral ecology of wild primates and the effect of environmental factors on them. We also study the interactions between primates and other living things and primate conservation ecology.
SociaI Systems Evolution
This section conducts research in Africa and Asia on wild primate populations in order to elucidate the processes of evolution of social systems and hominization using behavioral and ecological methodologies.
Language and lntelligence
This section aims to explore higher cognitive functions in apes, especially in chimpanzees. The approach of comparative cognitive science will lead us to understand human language and intelligence from an evolutionary perspective.
Cognition and Learning
The aim of our research is to understand the evolutionary origins and mechanisms of human cognitive function, social behavior, communications, and their dysfunction in psychiatric disorders, using an interdisciplinary approach including cognitive science, comparative psychology, neuropsychopharmacology, and social genomics in both humans and non-human primates.
The section aims at understanding brain mechanisms underlying emotion, memory, perception, and communication. We are analyzing single neuron activity, neural connections, and effects of various molecules on behavior. We also conduct human brain imaging studies.
This section aims at elucidating how a variety of nerve cells in the primate brain construct neural networks to achieve higher functions, such as motor control and cognitive behavior, and what mechanisms underlie these functions, by means of multidisciplinary approaches (anatomy, physiology, molecular biology etc.) in combination with the cutting-edge "in vivo gene transfer" technique.
We investigate the following items in primates using genomes, genes, and proteins.
- Evolution based on segmental DNA and chromosomes.
- Evolution of sensory function of vision, olfaction, and taste etc.
- Evolutional biology/medicine with iPS cells and primate developmental biology.
We engage in cellular biology such as the following research themes,
- Changes in the structure and function of chromosomes in human evolution
- Conservation of biological diversity using developmental engineering techniques
- Conservation breeding by endocrinological, ethological, and cytological approaches in endangered animals
Primate Medicine and Welfare
We conduct clinical research in collaboration with staff vets who take care of nonhuman primates when they are injured or suffer from various diseases. We have a lot of interesting cases and it is important that we report those cases as a case report and accumulate the knowledge of spontaneous diseases in nonhuman primates.
Our laboratory is focusing on intractable viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis C virus and human T-cell leukemia virus. These viruses share common similarities; disease development after long-term persistent infection, presence of unique mechanism for the immune evasion, and narrow and selective host range. Especially, the last one leads us to be incapable of employing small laboratory animals as immunocompetent models for viral infection. In this point of view, we have challenged these issues and established novel non-human primate models for the intractable viruses. With the use of the model animals, we would like to unravel the molecular and immunological mechanisms by which the viral persistency and disease onset are induced, and further challenge applied research regarding the development of vaccines and new therapeutics.
Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology (CICASP)
The Center for International Collaboration and Advanced Studies in Primatology (CICASP) promotes internationalization at Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute (PRI) through its research and educational activities. CICASP is dedicated to the recruitment of international students, the facilitation and support of international collaborations, and the education and encouragement of students to become leaders in their respective international scientific communities.
Wildlife Research Center
The Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University aims to promote scientific research and education on wild animals. Our three missions are 1) to conduct basic research on endangered and threatened species of wild animals, 2) to integrate different areas of science to create new disciplines applicable to field settings, and 3) to collaborate with zoos, sanctuaries, aquariums, and museums, etc, to promote environmental education among youths.
Other Research Bases: Koshima Field Station
Koshima Field Station is an additional facility of Wildlife Research Center as a base of research in Koshima Island. Koshima is a small island located in southern part of Miyazaki prefecture. There are about 95 of the Japanese Macaques in the island (in Mar 2015) covered with laurel forests, where we can see a lot of subtropical plant species. Koshima Island and the Japanese Macaques in the island are desiginated as a natural monument in 1934. The macaques have been studied by Kyoto University since 1948, and a lot of studies in various areas have been carried out. So this island is well-known as birthplace of primatology in Japan.
Other Research Bases: Kumamoto Sanctuary
Kumamoto Sanctuary (KS) is the first and only sanctuary for chimpanzees and bonobos in Japan. It is located approximately 800km southwest of Kyoto University’s main campus. The KS staff are passionately committed to enhancing the physical and psychological well-being of the chimpanzees and bonobos housed at the Sanctuary. The facility, chimpanzees, and other properties of Kumamoto Sanctuary were transferred from a private company to Kyoto University on August 1st, 2011. KS is now officially part of the Wildlife Research Center (WRC) at Kyoto University, WRC being the sister institute of the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University (KUPRI). In Japan, no chimpanzees whatsoever are used in laboratory research. All of the chimpanzees formerly involved in biomedical research have now been retired and are housed comfortably at Kumamoto Sanctuary. The last three chimpanzees that still remained in another biomedical research were transferred to KS on May 15th 2012. Six bonobos are now housed at KS, having arrived in two groups in December, 2013; and May, 2014 respectively. As of April 2016 there are, in total, 58 chimpanzees and 6 bonobos living at KS. KS is not open to the public for health and safety reasons.