Moredun awarded record EU grant for animal health research
Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh has received the largest grant ever to be awarded by the EU in the field of animal health. Over 9 million Euro has been secured by a Moredun led “Paravac” consortium, in order to develop vaccines for important worm parasites which infect livestock.
The announcement was made by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead last night (Tuesday 22 June), at a reception at the Scottish Parliament.
Nematode parasites pose the greatest current threat to global agricultural productivity. These parasites can cause debilitating gut, lung or liver disorders which impacts negatively on animal health and welfare, therefore impairing global food security. Control of parasitic worms currently relies almost exclusively on the use of drugs, a solution threatened by the global emergence of worm populations that are resistant to the drugs used to control them.
An alternative, greener and more sustainable approach is to control these infestations by vaccination, and one of the specific aims of this grant will be to develop at least one prototype vaccine to the point of uptake by the commercial sector or through government/philanthropic agencies.
The 9 million Euro grant, from the European Union’s Framework 7 research funding call, will fund a series of projects from over 20 academic partners across the globe over the next 3 years. Three commercial partners (including Pfizer Animal Health) are also involved in this initiative with the role of developing candidate vaccines discovered by the academic partners into commercial products.
Originally formed by farmers, Moredun is celebrating its 90th Anniversary in 2010. Still governed by farmers today, Moredun is internationally known for its work on the infectious diseases of livestock. Over the last 50 years Moredun has attracted and maintained some of the best internationally renowned scientists in the field of parasitology and has developed strong collaborations with research partners across Scotland, the UK, the EU and beyond. This EU grant involves 20 academic partners in research consortium including Moredun Research Institute; 11 from within the EU, 3 each from South America and Africa, 2 from Asia and 1 from Australia.
The award of this EU Framework 7 funding is a reflection of Moredun’s international reputation for excellence in livestock science. Not only does it show that the Institute’s ability to leverage external funding, but it highlights the excellent leadership capabilities of Moredun’s scientists such as Professor David Knox - who has been appointed overall co-ordinator of the 9 million Euro project.
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, commented ‘Scotland has an enviable reputation as a world leader in the field of animal health research. This major award from Europe is further evidence of the esteem and regard in which the Moredun and its scientists are held on the global stage. The work promises to improve further the efficiency of livestock production and to deliver benefits to farmers in Scotland and the rest of the world.’
Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of Moredun is delighted with this news. She commented “Parasitic disease remains a priority area for livestock science. Tools to control and prevent disease are urgently required, especially in the presence of rapidly emerging resistance to drugs used to control worms. Vaccines against parasitic roundworms, tapeworms and fluke are a very attractive option as they offer “green solutions” to contribute to sustainable development of livestock which will be essential for food security across the globe.”
She added, “This EU grant is just one of Moredun’s many recent funding successes – I am proud to report that Moredun scientists have attracted over £5 million in external grants so far this year to build on our existing resource base. Competition for research grants is fierce at the present time so I am particularly grateful for the efforts made by Moredun scientists to secure funding from external sources.”
Dr Fraser Stewart, Director VMRD Regulatory Affairs, Pfizer Animal Health said “My colleagues and I are very pleased to join the team of international scientific groups based in Scotland, Ireland, Belgium and further afield in this exciting project. Pfizer Animal Health will bring expertise in technological and commercial development of vaccines which will allow the pipeline between research and the livestock sectors to be realised. This project is an excellent example of joined up planning for future needs”.
John Jeffrey, Chairman of Moredun Research Institute was keen to acknowledge the continued support of the Scottish Government. He commented, “Moredun’s international reputation for livestock health research is only possible because of the investment by the Scottish Government, and especially RERAD, into maintaining the skills and facilities that are based at our site in Midlothian. I am delighted that Moredun can continue to deliver practical outputs that are needed by farmers, veterinary surgeons, processors, retailers, and the public, not only in Scotland but across the world”
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