£38m boost for animal health research

Animal disease research has been given a £38m boost, science minister David Willetts has announced.

The cash boost to the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is part of a £250m grant from BBSRC and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to redevelop its facilities at Pirbright, Surrey.

John Fazakerley, IAH director, said: “This funding will enable the institute to maintain its position as a world-leading centre for research into virus diseases of livestock and viruses that can transmit from animals to humans.

“We are delighted with this endorsement from BBSRC. We are proud of the work that we do and are committed to delivering the science strategy of the UK through excellent research. We share with BBSRC a commitment to using bioscience research to underpin future global food security as well as improvements in the wellbeing of humans and animals.”

The funds have been awarded through distinct strategic programme grants to support research programmes over five years. These have been combined with a grant to support vital national research capabilities and a ring fenced budget for knowledge exchange and commercialisation.

The funding follows an assessment process including independent peer review of institute science and programmes including knowledge exchange, public engagement and strategic human resources.

The £38m is part of a total of £250m that will fund BBSRC’s strategic investment in institutes involved in strategic programmes.

Commenting on the funding, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “This £250 million investment from BBSRC for the first phase of major five-year research programmes will sustain excellent science at some of the UK’s leading institutes and universities. This will drive growth, support highly skilled jobs and keep the UK at the very forefront of bioscience, with benefits ranging from healthcare to energy and global food security.”

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC chief Eeecutive, said “By almost all measures the UK has the world’s best bioscience research base. BBSRC’s strategic funding of institutes with distinct missions and unique national facilities is one of the reasons for this. But being the best doesn’t mean much unless you use this to make a difference in the world. Through their close links with industry and policy makers and through engaging the public the institutes are at the forefront of translating fundamental bioscience into products, services and advice.

“This investment is a major commitment to realising the potential of a bio-based economy in the UK. This is only possible through a sustainable, excellent fundamental research base with the right people, skills and facilities.”

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