BBSRC awards £29.3m towards strategic research at The Roslin Institute

Published: 11 April 2017

Greg Clark Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has announced a £29.3m award to The Roslin Institute.

This is part of the £319m Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) new investment to support 16 programmes of research at the National Institutes of Bioscience over the next five years. The awards follow a robust, independent and international peer-review process.

This funding, which is confirmed until the end of this spending review period and then indicative depending on BBSRC’s future allocations, will support three large research programmes at The Roslin Institute as well as the Institute’s core capabilities until 2022.

“We are delighted that all of our strategic research programmes are being funded. The BBSRC’s support highlights the quality and strategic relevance of our work in farm animal genetics, development, welfare and infectious diseases.” 

“This award will sustain our key role in delivering the UK’s Agri-Tech strategy and tackling global challenges such as food security by unlocking the genetic potential of farmed animals and reducing the burden of diseases to improve animal productivity, health and welfare.”

Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Interim Director of The Roslin Institute

"The award of BBSRC strategic funding for our programmes on Blueprints for Healthy Animals, Control of Infectious Diseases and Improving Animal Production & Welfare will extend the Institute’s world-leading research and sustain vital expertise, resources and facilities in the national interest."

Professor Mark Stevens, Director of Research at The Roslin Institute

“We look forward to delivering these research programmes in the coming years and furthering our collaborations with industry and other academic partners to maximise the impact of the world-leading expertise and facilities on Easter Bush Campus. As part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, we are also in a unique position to advance a ‘One Health' approach through data-driven innovations to enhance the lives of people and managed animals“ explained Professor Whitelaw.

“This award is a testament to the Institute’s long standing and well-deserved reputation for excellence in animal health research and to the commitment of the Institute’s staff and students to animal health and welfare, to sustainable livestock farming and to global food security. I look forward to working with all members of the Institute to implement these exciting programmes of research."

Professor Eleanor Riley, incoming Director of The Roslin Institute, said:

Further information about The Roslin Institute’s strategic research programmes:

Blueprints for Healthy Animals

The aim of this programme is to define how the sequence, regulation and products of genes determine the development and function of body systems throughout life.

Researchers at The Roslin Institute are particularly interested in understanding the development and function of the haematopoietic, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, nervous and genitourinary systems of key production animals (poultry, pigs, cattle and sheep), as well as of relevant breeds in low- and middle-income countries to improve farm animal production and enhance societal and economic prosperity.

The data generated by this programme will be used to produce richly annotated reference genomes and computational tools that will advance our understanding of animal development and life-long health, as well as enable the livestock sector to improve animal productivity, without compromising health and welfare.

Control of Infectious Diseases

This programme of research will investigate infectious agents in farmed animals with the aim of developing effective strategies to control animal and zoonotic diseases.

Scientists at The Roslin Institute are studying endemic diseases that exert a significant burden in ruminants, pigs, poultry and fish, as well as zoonotic diseases and foodborne pathogens in their reservoir hosts. They seek to identify host and pathogen factors that influence the outcome of infection and devise effective ways to control it.

The facilities and expertise associated with this programme will have a crucial role in alleviating the impact of diseases constraining prosperity in low- and middle-income countries and which pose a threat of incursion to the UK, as well as in addressing the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Improving Animal Production & Welfare

This programme of research will investigate the role of genetic, environmental and dietary factors on production-relevant traits with the aim of improving the performance, sustainability and welfare of farmed animals.

By analysing the genetic make-up of animals in populations (genotypes), their characteristics (phenotypes) and using computational tools to link them, researchers at The Roslin Institute are at the forefront of a farm animal genome revolution that will improve the precision of breeding and deliver further gains in productivity both in the UK and low- and middle income countries.

Animal behaviour studies that examine the impact of stress, season, husbandry and other factors on the welfare and performance of animals and their offspring have the potential to enhance the lives of managed animals and address societal concerns related to the welfare of intensively-reared livestock.

For further information, please contact:

Jen Middleton
Media & PR Manager
University of Edinburgh
t: +44 (0)131 650 6514



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