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£100M Boost for Animal Health Research

28 July 2009

UK - The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) today welcomed the announcement by the Government of over £100 million investment by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in the redevelopment of the UK's world leading animal disease research laboratories at Pirbright in Surrey.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC's Chief Executive, said: "This new funding is a major boost for animal health research in the UK and great news for the UK scientific community. This redevelopment at Pirbright will strengthen our strategic capability to protect UK livestock and other animals - including people - from devastating diseases."

The Government's decision follows extensive reviews of the UK's needs for animal health research to help ensure animal welfare and contribute to global food security. The redevelopment at Pirbright will enable implementation of recommendations arising from the Anderson
(http://archive.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/fmdreview/documents/fmd_2007_review_full.pdf) and Beringer (http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/organisation/policies/reviews/operational/0804_iah_governance.html) reviews.

Professor Martin Shirley, IAH's Director, said: "I am absolutely delighted by this news. It is a clear vote of confidence in the world class science carried out at IAH and recognises the increasing threats posed by animal diseases such as foot and mouth, bluetongue, and African swine fever, which could cause massive economic and social damage.

"The investment in state-of-the-art facilities at IAH will ensure the UK is in a position to control, contain and eradicate the threats of established and emerging diseases of animals. This is particularly important now as vector-borne diseases are spreading northwards as a consequence of the changing climate.

"IAH already attracts and trains the best scientific talent in livestock research across the globe and provision of the new laboratory will ensure that this remains the case."

IAH's success in combating bluetongue is an example of the importance of this strategic research capability. IAH scientists accurately predicted the time and location of the arrival of this devastating disease in the UK. This enabled effective preparation and preventative vaccination (again based on IAH research) in 2008. An independent report by consultants DTZ estimated that IAH work on Bluetongue virus potentially saved the UK economy £485 million and 10,000 jobs in 2008 alone.

The Pirbright redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2013.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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