Molecular genetic tools have had a profound impact on neuroscience, but until recently their application has largely been confined to a few model species, most notably mouse, zebrafish, Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. With the development of new genome engineering technologies such as CRISPR, it is becoming increasingly feasible to apply these molecular tools in a wider range of species, including nonhuman primates. This will lead to many opportunities for brain research, but it will also pose challenges. Here we identify some of these opportunities and challenges in light of recent and foreseeable technological advances and offer some suggestions. Our main focus is on the creation of new primate disease models for understanding the pathological mechanisms of brain disorders and for developing new approaches to effective treatment. However, we also emphasize that primate genetic models have great potential to address many fundamental questions about brain function, providing an essential foundation for future progress in disease research.
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