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Future plans for the Institute for Animal Health

3 February 2009

The Government has today published its response to the Anderson report on the 2007 Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak. The statement makes clear the continuing importance of the work of IAH in delivering world class research to underpin the UK’s livestock industries and food security.

BBSRC is committed to establishing a new national research facility, as recommended by Sir Iain Anderson, that takes forward the work of IAH and which provides the UK with a strategic research capability to defend against diseases such as Foot-and-Mouth, Bluetongue and emerging diseases that pose serious new threats to livestock health and the security of the UK food chain.

"The scientific case for a new, state-of–the-art national centre for animal health research is overwhelming," said Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive. "BBSRC will continue its plans to invest in, and provide, the world-class facilities that are essential to ensure that the UK has advance warning of disease threats and the underpinning research necessary to develop diagnostics, vaccines and other controls."

Professor Martin Shirley, Director of IAH said, "The clear commitment by BBSRC to invest in IAH represents a real opportunity to make progress at last in developing an IAH that is fit for the future, where high-quality research and world-class facilities have a significant impact in developing our scientific understanding, training skilled people and in protecting the UK against significant economic damage from animal disease incursions."

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 £485M and 10,000 jobs.

BBSRC is reassessing details of the specification for the planned Pirbright Site Redevelopment Programme, and identifying options for developing a stand-alone flexible research facility for the coming decades. BBSRC will continue to foster close liaison between the IAH and the VLA.

BBSRC, the IAH Governing Body and the Institute Director are continuing to work closely to minimise the impact of changes to the redevelopment plans on IAH research programmes and on the institute staff. Institute staff have been informed of BBSRC’s plans to press ahead with development of a new national facility.

BBSRC’s revised plans for IAH will be considered by BBSRC Council at its meeting on 11 February. BBSRC intends to bid to the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills for additional funding.


About the Institute for Animal Health

The Institute for Animal Health (IAH) is a world-leading centre of excellence, and the major centre in the UK, for research on infectious diseases of livestock. IAH has sites at Compton in Berkshire and Pirbright in Surrey. IAH is one of five institutes of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The mission of IAH to deliver high quality fundamental, strategic and applied science into infectious animal disease and, from that knowledge, to advance veterinary and medical science, enhance the sustainability of livestock farming, improve animal welfare, safeguard the supply and safety of food, and protect public health and the environment.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299