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Minister visits Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright

2 December 2011

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, visited the Institute for Animal Health's (IAH) Pirbright campus today (Friday 2 December 2011) to welcome the news of an additional £80M investment from government. The funding will be made available to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and, with additional support from BBSRC's own capital budget, will allow the construction of the £100M+ second phase of the development of the IAH campus at Pirbright.

The Minister was greeted by staff from IAH and BBSRC, which is the Institute's corporate trustee.

The Minister said "The UK is a world leader in research into animal diseases, which is in no small part due to the excellent work of BBSRC and the Institute for Animal Health. It's been great to visit Pirbright today and see first-hand what a difference this investment will make. It will drive growth, create highly-skilled jobs and improve our understanding of diseases that can have devastating effects on our rural economy, including avian flu."

Following a short meeting with IAH and BBSRC senior management where the Minister saw plans for the next phase of redevelopment at Pirbright and the future vision of the Institute, the Minister took part in a brief tour of the site.

Professor John Fazakerley, Director, IAH said "We were pleased to welcome the Minister for a return visit to our Pirbright campus. This is an exciting time for IAH, with one £100M building project already well under way, and we are looking forward to a bright future with the announcement of funding for the next stage of development. which will enable us to continue to make a major contribution to the UK, European and global economy"

The future vision is for a key global hub at Pirbright, which will be a central focus for research and innovation in animal virology and related disciplines. The new facilities are urgently required to underpin UK and EU capability in this area of research and will provide a single site with a variety of bio-containment level working environments.

Since the announcement on Tuesday, the farming community and poultry industry have welcomed the news, emphasising the importance of the research that goes on at IAH to support the UK's agricultural economy.

Peter Kendall, President of the National Farmers Union, said "We are delighted with the investment at Pirbright, which will allow the Institute for Animal Health to build on its world-leading work on combating animal diseases like bird flu and foot and mouth, and help underpin the future of livestock farming."

Peter Bradnock, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, said "The British Poultry Council welcomes this funding for developing the work of IAH at Pirbright. In particular, the science behind new vaccines against certain poultry infections will underpin sustainable growth of the poultry production to the benefit of society, the environment, and of the birds themselves. We are pleased to see this commitment to science by the Government."

New avian research facilities and medium containment laboratories will now enter detailed design and planning work. IAH will work closely with the local authority and with communities local to the Pirbright site. The new facilities will become operational in 2016.

ENDS

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About IAH

The Institute for Animal Health, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is a world-leading centre of excellence for research into viruses of farm animals, principally cattle, poultry, sheep and pigs, plus horses, and viruses which spread from animals to humans. Our research extends from fundamental to applied research, from genes all the way through to animal populations. It is our belief that better control of viral diseases requires a greater understanding of how each virus causes disease, how the immune systems of the farm animals respond to infection, and how the viruses spread, including those distributed by insects and other arthropods. In this way we contribute to the development of smarter, more effective vaccines; develop more discriminatory, user-friendly diagnostics; provide diagnostic services; and give expert knowledge to guide policy makers and farmers.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M, we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk .
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes .

External contact

Nancy Mendoza, Head of Communications, Institute for Animal Health

tel: 01483 231154
mob: 07833 046405