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UK Boosts New Institute for Animal Health with $126M

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK government will invest an additional £80 million ($125.9 million) to fund continued development of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright, an institute of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council that is being built in Surrey.

The new funding will support the second phase of development of the IAH campus, which is already under construction at Pirbright, as well as the transfer of IAH's facilities at Compton, in Berkshire, which is scheduled to close.

This second phase of construction will include development of high-containment laboratories, experimental facilities, and supporting infrastructure for research into avian and other animal diseases with a focus on developing vaccines and testing tools. BBSRC said this lab will join a £100 million high-containment lab that is already under construction at Pirbright and is due to be running in 2014.

IAH's research is focused on viral diseases that affect livestock and poultry and employs a range of overlapping approaches, including genomics, genetics, epidemiology, proteomics, molecular and structural biology, and others.

"The new facilities in this next phase of development are urgently required to underpin UK and EU capability in research on virus infections of poultry and livestock. They will provide a single site that has a variety of bio-containment level working environments," IAH Director John Fazakerley said in a statement.

"The Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright is not only involved in furthering scientific knowledge and promoting innovation but in protecting animal health, rural livelihoods, and food security," added BBSRC Chief Executive Douglas Kell. "The new facilities for studying avian and other diseases will help to protect huge sectors in the UK economy and protect hundreds of thousands of jobs that would be at risk during an animal disease outbreak."

According to BBSRC, the UK poultry industry is worth around £8 billion per year, and a major outbreak of Marek's disease could wipe out up to 90 percent of the industry while a major avian influenza outbreak could destroy 20 to 50 percent of the poultry industry.

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