A technician performs an ultrasound on a pregnant rhesus macaque as part of the WNPRC’s Zika virus research in 2016. (S. Capuano image)

A researcher performs an ultrasound on a pregnant rhesus macaque

Scientific Protocol Implementation

Scientific Protocol Implementation (SPI) unit provides consistent, reliable research support and collaboration for NHP investigator projects that utilize WNPRC resources. We are an international resource for NHP research in that the unit functions using a team approach (i.e., research specialists act as on-site laboratory staff and unit heads act as co-investigators) on projects for affiliates, core scientists, and their collaborators. We also organize all the support that is needed from other WNPRC units. This strategy allows for efficient teamwork on scientific projects and the additional collaborative input of the scientific and veterinary heads provides full service interactions for outside affiliate investigators.

Project priority is based on how potential projects fit with the WNPRC’s mission, resources, and funding support. Federal funded projects have the highest priority, however, we are able to support projects funded from many sources.

We invite new investigators to contact Joe Kurian and Jessica Phillips regarding possible projects early in your planning. We can provide support in identifying potential collaborators, estimates on budgets, experimental plans, and technical improvements while you plan your grant applications. SPI also integrates responsibilities and personnel from other Animal Services units and Research Services in order to accomplish project goals. SPI will organize, manage and perform the animal portion of approved research programs as well as provide technical support and tissue/blood samples. The unit will be engaged at the level needed by investigators – from full project involvement to specific experimental needs.

All investigators (core and affiliates) planning projects using the WNPRC animal resources are required to submit a  WNPRC_proposal-2020 form and submit to Joe Kurian and Jessica Phillips for review by the WNPRC Executive Committee. Those projects that will undergo peer review for funding should alert SPI to the plans so that resource allocations can be considered before the grant is submitted. Those proposals will need to go to the Executive Committee at the time that review indicates funding as a possibility. Non-peer reviewed projects must submit a proposal upon request for access to the WNPRC. If you are new to the WNPRC please also submit a research summary abstract and biosketch to Dr. Kurian and Dr. Phillips along with the proposal.

SPI coordinates with other WNPRC units to ensure that total project support of WNPRC core and affiliate projects is timely, efficient, and focused on providing consistent technical expertise to carry out the NHP protocols. Once projects are initiated, our unit executes well-organized, standardized, and compliant experimental support, arranges for animal assignments, coordinates with other WNPRC service units, and develops further expertise for new innovative projects. We will also continue to respond to innovative research questions by creating and/or refining procedures to provide the highest possible level of experimental support.



  • Provide high quality assistance in the animal portion of research protocols
  • Access to NHP colony for non-WNPRC investigators
  • Provide link to Executive Committee approval of proposed research
  • Coordination with other WNPRC Service Units for project support
  • Screening procedures for potential animals
  • Technical and veterinary support on research procedures
  • Project progress and final reports
  • Live NHP blood/tissue samples through NHPBMD core
  • Development of new techniques as needed by projects

Please refer to our  WNPRC SPI Brochure April 2021 for more details.


JOE KURIAN, PH.D. Scientific Unit Co-Head (608) 512-6912 Email Dr. Kurian
JESSICA PHILLIPS, PH.D. Scientific Unit Co-Head (608) 209-7108 Email Dr. Phillips
KEVIN BRUNNER, DVM Research Veterinarian – Technical Unit Head (608) 265-9069 Email Dr. Brunner
MICHELE SCHOTZKO, B.S. Senior Research Specialist Email Michele Schotzko
ERIC PETERSON, B.S. Senior Research Specialist Email Eric Peterson
DANE SCHALK, B.S. Senior Research Specialist Email Dane Schalk
ERIC ALEXANDER, B.S. Research Specialist Email Eric Alexander
KERRI FUCHS, B.S. Research Specialist Email Kerri Fuchs
JOSIE JOHNSON, B.S. Research Specialist Email Josie Johnson
AMY MOY, B.S. Research Specialist Email Amy Moy
NELL BEKIARES, M.S., B.S. Research Specialist Email Nell Bekiares
CAITLYN SHAW, B.S. Research Specialist Email Caitlyn Shaw
JOSE SANCHEZ, B.A. Courier Email Jose Sanchez


  • What services are available through SPI? SPI is able to provide complete support for nonhuman primate projects by utilizing the newest techniques. This is done with coordination between the many service units and animal support that are provided within a National Primate Research Center. Investigators may choose to have SPI manage the entire project or request any specialized support that is needed. SPI can also provide nonhuman primate blood and tissue specimens in vivo or coordinate with Pathology Services for post-mortem tissue. We are particularly important to outside investigators who would not otherwise have access to non-human primates. We strongly encourage those needing to do basic primate studies as part of their clinical and translational research programs to contact us.
  • Why utilize SPI for research project support? SPI specifically supports the animal portion of research projects, assuring that personnel performing animal procedures are directly overseen and reviewed by a research veterinarian. SPI employs highly trained research specialists to maximize research output, safety and compliance, while minimizing IACUC and USDA animal welfare concerns for complex procedures. These highly skilled personnel are also cross-trained on all projects and procedures to decrease routine complications due to vacation, sick leave and turnover of staff.
  • Who oversees the technical procedures? All technical procedures are reviewed and overseen by the Research Veterinarian and SPI staff.
  • What specializations do SPI personnel have? Specific skills and procedures for support of research are mainly within research areas related to the major WNPRC scientific programs (Global Infectious Disease, Regenerative and Reproductive Medicine, Energy Metabolism and Chronic Disease, and Neuroscience), as well as in other general biomedical programs.
  • Who do I contact about utilizing SPI and WNPRC resources? Contact Joe Kurian and Jessica Phillips with any questions.

Return to Animal Services