BBSRC and Defra invest in zoonotic livestock disease research

Published: 25 April 2023

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have announced a joint investment into 10 innovative projects focused on international animal health research.

This £4 million joint investment will fund 10 transnational projects that:

  • support cross-cutting research and innovation to better understand zoonoses focusing on the animal, human and environmental interface
  • develop novel vaccine and diagnostics technology platforms to improve animal health and welfare

UK researchers will partner in nine of the 10 projects. We are delighted that two of the funded UK projects will be led by partners within Midlothian Science Zone:

Improved molecular surveillance and assessment of host adaptation and virulence of Coxiella burnetii in Europe, led by UK principal investigator: Dr Tom McNeilly, Moredun Research Institute

Identification of factors driving the emergence and spread of avian influenza viruses with zoonotic potential, led by UK principal investigator: Professor Paul Digard, Roslin Institute

The International Coordination of Research on infectious Animal Diseases (ICRAD) is funded by Horizon 2020. It brings together 21 partners from 17 countries to perform research to address infectious animal disease challenges.

Joint investment from European partners for this funding opportunity totals approximately €12.5 million.

With an overarching aim of improving global animal and human health, this latest investment will increase preparedness and improve our ability to respond to diseases such as:

  • avian influenza
  • bovine tuberculosis (TB)
  • coronavirus

The 10 projects receiving funding will:

  • increase preparedness to (re)-emerging zoonotic diseases
  • improve our ability to respond to zoonotic threats, thereby contributing towards improved animal and human health
  • build our understanding of the (re)-emergence of pathogens with zoonotic potential focusing on causes and factors that lead to spill-over and maintenance of pathogens
  • build our understanding of animal host-pathogen interactions and the immune response
  • develop novel or improved detection and prevention platforms

"The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the devastating impacts zoonotic diseases can have. It is, therefore, vital that we work hand in hand with our international partners to build our understanding of, and develop bio-based solutions in response to, these global threats.

"This latest funding with our partners at Defra moves us ever closer to achieving our goal of tackling infectious zoonotic diseases."

BBSRC Executive Chair, Professor Melanie Welham

"This research forms an important part of our efforts to control some of the most difficult animal health diseases the world faces, including avian influenza and bovine tuberculosis.

"These grants deepen our understanding of how diseases are passed between wildlife and livestock, and form part of the UK’s commitment to a One Health approach that reduces the risk of threat to human, animal, plant and environmental health."

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer

"This collaboration brings together a wealth of expertise from research institutions across the UK and Europe to address some of our most serious animal health challenges, including developing new vaccine and diagnostic technologies."

Defra Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Gideon Henderson

The UK is committed to working with our international partners in a coordinated scientific effort to overcome infectious animal disease.

The ICRAD network has launched a pre-announcement for its third transnational funding opportunity. This funding opportunity will fund research focusing on the impact of helminth infections and climate change on livestock health, together with the development of control strategies such as novel vaccine and diagnostic technologies.

Project pre-proposals are welcomed from 3 April to 1 June 2023. Find out more


Source: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)



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