The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has shortlisted a team from The Pirbright Institute for Innovator of the Year 2013.
Professor Peter Mertens, Dr Carrie Batten, Dr Simon Carpenter, and Dr Simon Gubbins have been nominated together in the Social Innovator category of the competition for their work on identification, modelling and control of bluetongue outbreaks in the UK and northern Europe, which is estimated to have saved the UK economy £485 million and safeguarded around 10,000 jobs.
They will find out on 20 March 2013 at an event in central London whether they have won their category and the overall Innovator of the Year award.
Winners in each category will receive a £10,000 award to support research, training or other activities promoting economic or social impact. The overall winner will receive a further £5,000 and their department will receive £15,000.
Bluetongue virus arrived in northern Europe in 2006 for the first time and The Pirbright Institute, having studied the virus in Africa for many years, was poised to respond.
The nominated team members were responsible for the development of new techniques and diagnostic systems that enabled rapid identification and tracking of the virus as it moved through Europe towards the UK.
The scientists also applied novel mathematical modelling approaches to predict the arrival of bluetongue-infected biting midges in the UK having been blown on the wind from the continent in late 2007.
The knowledge, advice, tools and technologies contributed by the Institute enabled an effective voluntary vaccination programme to be rolled out across the affected area of the UK and the disease was quickly eradicated in the UK in early 2008.