Melanie Graham

Robert and Katherine Goodale Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery
Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical School
Director, Preclinical Research Center
Professor of Veterinary Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine University of Minnesota



  • Surgical Resident Enrichment Program
  • T32 Comparative Medicine and Pathology Training Program
  • AnSci/CMB/VMed 8134 – Ethical Conduct of Animal Research

Research Summary

I use an integrated interdisciplinary approach to address issues of concern in human and animal health, my lab has a unique focus on two closely related issues: 1) Developing methods to understand immunometabolism towards innovative therapies for diseases with high public health impact, e.g. diabetes, obesity, and infectious disease, and 2) Identifying reasons why non-clinical models fail or succeed in predicting human outcomes to confer solutions that improve the accuracy of these models. When there are no alternatives to animal models, we focus on critical refinements aimed at reduction in use and the best animal experience. My work explores this interface to provide therapies that improve the quality of life for patients and improve the welfare of animals used in biomedical research.

Current projects in the lab include: optimal design and the impacts of behavioral management on coping, physiology, and well-being; and the development of predictive biomarkers and regenerative medicine approaches to reverse metabolic disease, induce immune tolerance or immune recognition, and replace damaged cells, tissues, and organs.


PhD, Utrecht University
Major: Ethology and welfare, Dissertation: "Working on the 3Rs: Utilization of Refinement to Enhance the Value of Translational Research in Nonhuman Primates"
MPH, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health
Major: Epidemiology
BA, University of Saint Thomas
Major: Quantitative Methods and Computer Science

Honors and Recognition

Andreas von Recum Award
C. William Hall Outstanding Publication Award
Endowed Robert and Katherine Goodale Chair in Minimally Invasive Surgery
The Patrick J. Manning Award

Professional Memberships

Academy of Surgical Research
The American Society of Primatologists and the International Primatological Society
The Transplantation Society
International Pancreas & Islet Transplant Association
International Xenotransplantation Association
American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Cell Transplant Society
Academy of Surgical Research, Director at Large, Board Member
The North American 3Rs Collaborative, Emeritus Board Member
National Academy of Sciences Committee on the State of the Science and Future Needs for Nonhuman Primate Model Systems
MRC Scientific Landscape Review of the non-human primate (NHP) research - Scientific Advisory Group
European Academy of Laboratory Animal Surgery (EALAS)
Selected Presentations

Selected Presentations

Graham, M. L., (Chair) "Engineering and Site Consideration for Cell Therapy", 83rd Scientific Sessions, American Diabetes Association, San Diego, California, United States. June 26, 2023.
Graham, M. L. "Delivering Customized Care in Primates", ASP 2023, American Society of Primatologists, Reno, Nevada, United States. June 23, 2023.
Graham, M. L. "The Impact of Behavioral Management on the Primate Experience, Their Caregivers, and Successful Clinical Translation", 10th Annual 3Rs Symposium: The 3Rs in Action!, John Hopkins, Held Virtually, United States. May 17, 2023.
Graham, M. L., (Author & Presenter), Martinez-Finley, E., (Author & Presenter), Riddle, J., (Author & Presenter) "F9: The Lifespan of a Research Protocol: The Journey From Research Using Animals to Research Involving Humans", PRIM&R 2022, PRIM&R, Held Virtually, December 15, 2022.
Graham, M. L., (Moderator), Berridge, B., (Author & Presenter), Zeiss, C., (Author & Presenter), Strech, D., (Author & Presenter) "Plenary III: Lost in Translation", PRIM&R 2022, PRIM&R, Held Virtually, December 13, 2022.
Graham, M. L., Oppler, Jr., S. H. "The impact of experimental design in stress-dependent perturbations of the primate immune system on rigor, reproducibility, and clinical translation", 2022 NC3Rs Primate Welfare Meeting, London, England. November 08, 2022.
Graham, M. L. "The pivotal role of Refinement for ensuring translational relevance in NHP modeling.", Invited Scientist Lecture, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Netherlands. May 03, 2022.
Graham, M. L. "Targeting Inflammation to Drive Translational Success in Metabolic Disease", Diabetes Plenary Lecture Series, UAB Diabetes Research Center, Held Virtually, April 21, 2022.
Graham, M. L. "Using the 3Rs to impact the animal experience, their caregivers, and successful clinical translation", APBI 317 - Welfare and Ethics of Using Animals in Science, University of British Columbia, *Lecture held virtually due to COVID-19, Canada. February 17, 2022.
Graham, M. L. "Experimental Design Strategies in Primate Trials That Strengthen the Translational Bridge to Clinical Success in Cell And Gene Therapy", American Society of Gene + Cell Therapy Annual Meeting, *Meeting held virtually due to COVID-19, United States. May 13, 2021.
Graham, M. L. "A bioengineered pancreas supports high density islet cell transplantation without immunosuppression in nonhuman primates", Academy of Surgical Research Virtual Meeting., *Meeting held virtually due to COVID-19, October 13, 2020.
Nugent, J., Graham, M. L. "Laparoscopic Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy in Nonhuman Primates Shifts the Microbiome and Drives Changes in Microbial Metabolites", Scientific Forum at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2020, Held Virtually Due to COVID-19, United States. October 03, 2020.
Graham, M. L., Lech, P.J., Tesfay, M., Gnanadurai, C., Carey, T. "Safety and Immunogenicity of VSV-SARS2 as a Potential COVID19 Vaccine: Preliminary Findings in Cynomolgus Macaques", ASGCT 2020 COVID-19 Symposium, Held virtually due to COVID-19, United States. September 15, 2020.
Graham, M. L. "Using the 3Rs as a tool for rigorous study design to strengthen NHP translation to clinical success", Queens U Symposium, *Lecture given via Zoom due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Canada. March 11, 2020.
Graham, M. L. "The role of behavioral management in research and the animal experience.", Queens U Symposium., *Lecture given via Zoom due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Canada. March 10, 2020.
Janecek, J. L., Pheil, N., Dalton, J., Graham, M. L. "A Bioengineered Artificial Interstitium Supports High Density Islet Cell Transplantation Without Immunosuppression In Nonhuman Primates", TERMIS-AM, Orlando, Florida, United States. December 02, 2019.
Graham, M. L. "Why the Animal Experience Matters for Tomorrows Cures", Keynote/Plenary Address: The Animal-Human Relationship University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. November 19, 2019.
Graham, M. L. "Using PRT to evaluate welfare in macaques undergoing medical procedures", 2019 Primate Welfare Meeting: Harmonising Welfare Indicators, London, England. November 08, 2019.
Graham, M. L. "Application of the Three Rs to Achieve a More Clinical Trial-Like Model Strengthens Translation and Improves Animal Well-Being", CACC National Workshop Lecture, Richmond, Canada. May 25, 2019.
Graham, M. L. "Creating a 3Rs culture that supports science, innovation, and animal welfare", OVC Welfare Forum, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada. October 13, 2018.
Graham, M. L. "Creating a 3Rs culture that supports science, innovation, and animal welfare", Keynote/Plenary Address: OVC Welfare Forum, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada. October 13, 2018.


Administrative Contact

Jade Wilder | 612-625-5504 |