Animal models are indispensible in biomedical research and have made tremendous contributions to answer fundamental questions on human biology, disease mechanisms, and to the development of new drugs and diagnostic tools. Due to the limitations of rodent models in translational medicine, tree shrews ( Tupaia belangeri chinensis
), the closest relative of primates, have attracted increasing attention in modeling human diseases and therapeutic responses. Here we discuss the recent progress in tree shrew biology
and the development of tree shrews as human disease models including infectious diseases, metabolic diseases, neurological and
psychiatric diseases, and cancers. Meanwhile, the current problems and future perspectives of the tree shrew model are explored.