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Professor John Fazakerley takes up post as Director of the Institute for Animal Health

7 June 2011

On 6 June 2011 Professor John Fazakerley takes up his post as Director of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. He succeeds Prof. David Paton who has been Acting Director since the retirement of Prof. Martin Shirley CBE last year.

Copyright: IAH

Professor John Fazakerley. Copyright: IAH

Prof. Fazakerley is Group Leader and Professor of Virology at the Roslin Institute, also an Institute of BBSRC, within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He and his research group study how viruses cause disease and focus on viruses spread by arthropods. "My research on viruses that are spread by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks dovetails very well with the world-class Vector-borne Diseases Programme within IAH." The viruses that Prof. Fazakerley currently studies include alphaviruses, flaviviruses and bunyaviruses; most of these are transmitted between wildlife reservoirs, livestock and humans by mosquitoes and ticks. Other IAH vector-borne disease research includes bluetongue virus, which is circulated amongst ruminants by biting Culicoides midges, and African swine fever, which can be spread by ticks.

Copyright: IAH

Construction of a state-of-the-art, high bio-containment laboratory complex at the IAH's Pirbright Laboratory. Copyright: IAH

"This is an exciting time to be taking over the reins of the IAH," said Prof. Fazakerley. "Consolidation of the institute and construction of a state-of-the-art, high bio-containment laboratory complex at the IAH's Pirbright Laboratory is well under way. This is in addition to recently completed animal facilities and an interim high bio-containment laboratory."

"At IAH we have world-class staff and research programmes, and a new focus on viruses that threaten livestock, including poultry, and viruses that are zoonotic, affecting both livestock and humans. Viruses that threaten the health of livestock also threaten food security. With a changing environment and climate, viruses are the most likely emerging diseases of economic and medical importance."

"IAH has a distinguished history and with all the new investment in facilities and staff, IAH is set to retain its position as a world-leading institute into the future."


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, pigs plus horses. 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.


BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

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.