Three early-career researchers from the Institute for Animal Health at Compton near Newbury had the chance to present their science to parliamentarians at the House of Commons on Monday (12 March). All three work on diseases of livestock that can cost the UK economy a great deal of money and threaten food security and animal welfare.
- Kirsten Bentley works on Infectious Bronchitis Virus, which costs the UK poultry industry an estimated £23 million per year and causes debilitating illness in chickens. Kirsten’s work is aimed at improving vaccines against the disease.
- Clare Grant presented her work on immune responses in cattle to foot and mouth disease virus – one of the most important diseases for economic and food security, which is estimated to have cost the UK several billion pounds during an outbreak in 2001.
- Dr Helena Maier also works on Infectious Bronchitis Virus. Helena works to understand how the virus hijacks the host cell to replicate.
Kirsten, Clare and Helena presented their research to dozens of politicians and a panel of expert judges as part of the poster competition SET for Britain. They said they were delighted to have the opportunity to discuss their work with parliamentarians and early career researchers from other disciplines at this unique event. All three are experienced in public engagement and regularly take part in events to inspire young scientists in schools.
Andrew Smith, MP for Oxford East met Helena at the event, he said "Dr Maier presented some fascinating work on what I now understand is a disease that causes real problems to the UK poultry industry. This industry employs around 55,000 people in the UK and, at a time when jobs in every sector are vulnerable, it is good news that this science will go some way to protect poultry workers."
SET for Britain is a competition in the House of Commons which involves researchers displaying posters of their work to panels of expert judges and politicians.
The event aims to help politicians understand more about the UK’s thriving science and engineering base and rewards some of the strongest scientific and engineering research being undertaken in the UK.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, Airbus/EADS, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, AgChem Access, Oxford Instruments, IBMS and GE Hitachi.