Department of Cellular and Structural Biology

CSB Faculty


Suzette D. Tardif Ph.D.



Michigan State University, 1982


(210) 562-5033


I have worked for 30 years in the fields of primatology, metabolic physiology and reproductive biology. My research interests have centered on the development of the marmoset monkey as a disease model. Marmosets are small South American primates.


For more information on marmosets and their use in research (including the recent sequencing of their genome) go to:     Primate Info Net | Wikipedia - Marmoset | Marmoset Genome Project | MaRGA


My research approach is highly integrative, as I seek both mechanistic and evolutionary explanations to understand the biology of this unusual group of nonhuman primates. I also work in collaboration with a wide array of investigators who wish to use marmosets as models in diverse areas - such as infectious disease, autoimmune disease and metabolic disease - to aid them in developing effective, efficient and humane research models.


My present research centers on two areas:

    1. Reproduction and energetics, asking how do these small primates make both behavioral and physiological "decisions" regarding how much energy to invest in reproduction? We have developed both undernutrition and overnutrition models and are presently focused on overnutrition models. We are funded through the NIDDK/NIH to develop the marmoset as a model of maternal obesity. This study is examining the metabolic consequences of pregnancy in both spontaneously obese and diet-induced obese marmoset mothers, on both the mothers and their offspring.
    2. Development of marmosets as a premiere primate model of aging. Because of their small size and associated shorter life span, marmosets have great potential as a species in which to better understand primate aging in a controlled environment. In collaboration with Drs. Austad and Richardson, I am working to develop a barrier-maintained marmoset breeding colony that will be available for aging research. While this colony is being developed, we are working through the marmoset resources that I developed while at the Southwest National Primate Research Center - conducting pilot studies to characterize possible frailty phenotypes (in conjunction with Drs. Espinoza and VanRemmen)

Marmosets are small, South American primates that normally give birth to twins or triplets (Individual carrying twin infants, heads of twin infants captured at ultrasound). They live in nuclear family groups, in which mothers, fathers and older offspring all participate in the care of infants.


Research Techniques:
Quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging (for body composition assessment)
Computerized Behavioral Data Collection (ObserverTM)


Tardif SD, Mansfield KG, Ratnam R, Ross CN, Ziegler TE. (2011) The marmoset as a model of aging and age-related diseases. ILAR J. 2011 Feb 8;52(1):54-65.


Tardif SD, Power ML, Ross CN, Rutherford JN, Layne-Colon DG, Paulik MA. (2009) Characterization of Obese Phenotypes in a Small Nonhuman Primate, the Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Aug;17(8):1499-505.


Rutherford JN, Tardif SD. (2009) Developmental plasticity of the microscopic placental architecture in relation to litter size variation in the common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus). Placenta. 2009 Jan;30(1):105-10.


Raveendran M, Tardif S, Ross CN, Austad SN, Harris RA, Milosavljevic A, Rogers J. (2008) Polymorphic microsatellite loci for the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) designed using a cost- and time-efficient method. Am J Primatol. 2008 Sep;70(9):906-10.


Tardif SD, Araujo A, Arruda MF, French JA, Sousa MB, Yamamoto ME. (2008) Reproduction and aging in marmosets and tamarins. Interdiscip Top Gerontol. 2008;36:29-48.