The Key Laboratory of Animal Models and Human Disease Mechanisms (AMHD), established on December 19th, 2008, serves as one of three main research priorities identified by the middle- and long-term development plan of the Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The AMHD is aimed at integrating ample bio-resources in Yunnan Province, great demands of the local biomedical industry, and high level scientists, technology developers and facilities of KIZ well together.This integration process will undoubtedly improve the creativity and competitive ability at an international level within these important fields, through accomplishments such as elucidating the mechanisms of common diseases, designing and screening drugs, and evaluating pharmacodynamics. The establishment and development of AMHD will enable researchers to make essential contributions to understanding the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of common diseases, as well as to the clinical prevention, diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. Thus, the AMHD will meet the urgent needs in the health care field of China.
Professor Lu Yongxiang, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, visited the AMHD in September 2006. He praised the AMHD for its outstanding achievements and warmly encouraged its members to continue working hard in conducting first-class research to meet the country's needs in the health care field and to maintain its position at the frontiers of science on the global stage. President Lu Yongxiang also offered constructive comments on the development of the AMHD.
1. Research focuses and missions
The research of the AMHD focuses on AIDS, depression, drug addiction, and other related common diseases. There are three principal missions of the AMHD: (1) to establish and improve primate models of common diseases; (2) to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms and the regulation of target diseases; and (3) to design and develop new drugs, vaccines, and technologies with independent intellectual property rights.
2. Aims of the AMHD
The AMHD is aimed at: (1) constructing an interdisciplinary and innovative research system for common diseases, which includes technical platforms for biotoxin resources, genomic and proteomic analyses, animal model research, pharmacology, pharmacodynamics evaluation, and pathology evaluation; (2) identifying novel regulation targets and pathways for the treatment of AIDS, depression, drug addiction, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and cancer; (3) screening and evaluating natural materials and/or biotoxins that have important academic merits and potential uses for new drug research and development (R&D).
3. Research groups and education
1) Directors of the AMHD and academic committee
Director of the AMHD: Prof. Dr. Lin Xu
Vice-Director of the AMHD: Prof. Dr. Yong-Tang Zheng
Director of the academic committee: Prof. Dr. Han-Dong Sun (member of CAS)
Vice-Director of the academic committee: Prof. Dr. Yun Zhang
2) Faculty and staff
The AMHD has 88 full-time faculty members whose average age is 36.1 years. 40.45% of the faculty members hold a Ph.D. degree, 22.47% received a master's degree. There are 14 principal investigators. Among them, three received the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, nine received support from the "Century Program" (or Hundreds-Talent Program) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and six were selected as the Young and Middle-aged academic and technology Leaders of Yunnan Province. Dr. Yun Zhang is a council member of the International Biotoxin Society in the Asia-Pacific region and is a member of the editorial board for Toxicon. Dr. Lin Xu is an associate editor for Neural Plasticity and a member of the editorial board for Behavioural Brain Research. Dr. Xu also acts as an executive member of the Council of the Chinese Society for Neuroscience and as Vice President of the Society of Clinical and Biological Psychiatry.
Currently, there are 114 graduate students in the AMHD. During 2005-2010, an additional 129 students have graduated from the AMHD, with 88 receiving their Ph.D. degree and 41 master's degree. Among them, one student was awarded the President's Scholarship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, five received the DiAo Scholarship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and one received the Bihebituo Scholarship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
4. Research conditions
1) Overview of main laboratory equipment and core facilities
Although the equipment owned by the AMHD does include some cutting-edge and specialised laboratory equipment, the overall level is consistent with the middle-upper equipment levels that are currently found throughout China. Currently, there are 129 pieces of major equipment, with a total value of more than 30million RMB. Fortunately, the former deficiency in equipment was remedied by the core facilities of the KIZ, and we now have access to large and expensive equipment, such as laser confocal microscopes, HPLC, flow cytometry, real-time PCR thermocyclers, ultracentrifuges, and water deionisation and purification systems. Meanwhile, we have full access to the resources and services provided by the "Raising and Breeding Center for Laboratory Primate Animals of the Kunming Institute of Zoology", the "Kunming Research Center for Advanced Biosafety Level of Primate", and the "Raising and Breeding Center for Laboratory Primate Animals and Experimental Animal Center of the National Biomedical Industrialization Base".
2) Laboratory and office space
The AMHD has a total laboratory and office space of 4764m2. Meanwhile, we have 4 lecture halls and meeting rooms for academic communication, encompassing a total of 300 m2.