The Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
Scientists at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio have shared the modified SARS-CoV-2 virus with labs around the world to help in the fight against COVID-19. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The crown jewel of San Antonio’s nationally renowned research institute studying treatments for infectious diseases on Monday named a new director.

Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D., is the new Director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC).
Deepak Kaushal, Ph.D., is the new Director of the Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC). Credit: Courtesy / Texas Biomedical Research Institute

Deepak Kaushal will lead the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute beginning in January. Kaushal will take over for Robert Lanford, who will step down from an administrative role and continue as a scientist at the research facility.

The primate research center is home to about 2,500 nonhuman primates, including baboons, chimpanzees, macaques, and marmosets. The center holds the distinction of being the world’s largest captive baboon population with about 1,100 baboons.

“[Kaushal] is a world-renowned researcher whose focus in tuberculosis and HIV, specifically using nonhuman primates in TB research, is a natural fit with the institute’s long-term vision of becoming the world leader in infectious disease research,” said Dr. Larry Schlesinger, who took over as president and CEO of Texas Biomed last year.

The West San Antonio-based research institute will retool over the next decade – doubling its faculty and redesigning its campus – to concentrate more on studying infectious diseases, which the nonprofit’s leadership expects will generate more revenue in the face of heightening challenges.

Kaushal will manage the primate research center funded by a $40 million National Institutes of Health grant and staffed with nearly 150 scientists, veterinarians, and animal care professionals.

His predecessor Lanford’s research centered largely on therapies and treatments for Hepatitis B and C.

Texas Biomed announced last month that researchers at its primate research center have discovered an antibody that can effectively prevent HIV transmission.

Kaushal has spent more than 25 years working to cure tuberculosis, which is responsible for more than 2 million deaths globally every year. He uses macaques to test new drugs for the disease as well as new potential vaccines.

Central to his research is the interaction between TB and AIDS.

“The opportunity to work in San Antonio is tremendous,” Kaushal said. “The community has a strong health science center and medical school, a network of higher education that fuels the engine of a research enterprise, strong nonprofit organizations such as the Southwest Research Institute and is a vibrant, multicultural city. This is a place where technology, industry, and supported research in infectious diseases can grow.”

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.