Pirbright scientists are set to collaborate with some of the UK’s top avian influenza experts in a new research consortium dedicated to tackling bird flu.
This consortium has received £1.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and will be responsible for developing new strategies to tackle future bird flu outbreaks.
The UK is in the migratory flight path for wild birds flying across northern Europe, therefore outbreaks occur each year. However, this year has seen some of the largest outbreaks the UK has ever experienced, which has had a huge impact on poultry health and the economy.
It is hoped that through collaboration and knowledge exchange, this consortium will help to find strategies to control the spread of disease. This will subsequently boost the UK poultry industry and rural economy, which have suffered during recent outbreaks and lockdowns of poultry flocks. The key aims of the consortium include:
- Monitoring current flu virus strains
- Understanding spread of disease in different bird populations
- Developing models to predict how the avian influenza virus may spread
- Informing strategies to decrease risk of disease and transmission to people.
Professor Munir Iqbal, Head of Pirbright’s Avian Influenza Virus group, said: “The expertise of Pirbright’s researchers will help to achieve the key aims of this consortium and as an Institute we are extremely proud to be part of this. Avian influenza is an economically important virus that has devastating effects on the poultry industry, therefore improved understanding of the virus will give us more insight into how it spreads and inform our control strategies to prevent it from spreading to people and other animals.”
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Notes to Editors
- Consortium members include: APHA, The Pirbright Institute, Royal Veterinary College, Roslin Institute, University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University of Leeds and University of Nottingham. The consortium will bring together expertise across many areas including microbiology, epidemiology, virology, genomics, mathematical modelling and translation of scientific evidence into formats that can be used by policymakers.
- The £1.5 million is allocated over one year.
About The Pirbright Institute
The Pirbright Institute is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. Based in the UK and receiving strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Institute works to enhance capability to contain, control and eliminate these economically and medically important diseases through highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience.
The Institute is an independent company, limited by guarantee and a registered charity, governed by a Board of non-executive Trustee Directors.
With an annual income of £37 million from grants and commercial activity, and a total of £43.7 million strategic investment from BBSRC UKRI during 2021-2022, the Institute contributes to global food security and health, improving quality of life for animals and people.
For more information about The Pirbright Institute see: www.pirbright.ac.uk
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC UKRI, its science and its impact: www.bbsrc.ukri.org
More information about BBSRC UKRI strategically funded institutes
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