Dr Nigel Ferris MBE has retired after almost 40 years at The Pirbright Institute in Pirbright. Dr Ferris is at the forefront of diagnostics for foot-and-mouth (FMD) and other diseases, with his kits leading the field for at least 20 years and a new generation of kits on the horizon thanks to his recent work. His work has had far-reaching positive impacts for livestock farmers and international trade, contributing to animal health and welfare as well as economic and food security in the UK and beyond.
Dr Ferris has been party to many of the critical developments in this area including the ELISA methodology; applications of polymerase chain reaction; and, more recently, development of lateral flow devices for the penside detection of FMD – an important development for the swift diagnosis of an outbreak in the field, which could ultimately contribute to reducing the number of animals culled. He was personally responsible for carrying out the tests that confirmed the 2007 FMD outbreak and in 2001 led a team that analysed around 15,000 samples during the outbreak. Following the 2001 outbreak he was awarded an MBE for services to Animal Health.
In a talk to staff, Professor John Fazakerley, IAH Director said "Over many years Nigel has been the principal producer and supplier of FMD test materials and has led the preparation, inactivation and inocuity testing of antigens, the inoculation of animals to prepare serum reagents, the packaging of materials, the taking of orders, the arrangement of shipments and the trouble-shooting of test performance in destination laboratories."
Professor Fazakerley went on to commend Dr Ferris for his professionalism and dedication and encouraged staff to emulate these principles. He thanked him for all his work and wished Dr Ferris all the very best for his retirement.
As a scientist and teacher, Dr Ferris’ achievements have been numerous and you would be hard pressed to find a lab anywhere in the world that carries out FMD diagnosis which doesn’t include at least one member of staff who has been trained by him.
The Pirbright Institute in Pirbright is the World Reference Laboratory for FMD virus. This means that Dr Ferris has been responsible for the archiving and maintenance of the most important collection of samples in the world.
Dr Ferris has made an extraordinary contribution to the Institute over the years and will be very much missed. His colleagues around the world wish him well for the future.