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U.S. partners with United Kingdom for animal disease prevention research

A partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom announced Feb. 19 will address high-impact diseases and animal health issues in both countries. The partnership includes five jointly funded projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture putting forth more than $2.3 million and the U.K.’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council putting in over $3.5 million for the U.S.-U.K. Collaborative Animal Health and Disease and Veterinary Immune Reagents program.

“As a leading livestock producing nation, the health of the people in the United States and around the world depends on the safety, security and quality of the livestock we produce,” says Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “These grants enable an international research partnership that looks to control the spread of pathogens, ensuring we can effectively reduce the health risks and environmental impacts of food production worldwide.”

Steve Visscher, BBSRC international deputy chief executive, says, “A growing world population means that safe and secure food supplies are going to become more and more important in the years to come. The scale of such challenges require increased international collaboration, and this partnership of co-investment between BBSRC and NIFA will allow world-leading researchers in both countries to work together to combat livestock diseases and safeguard food supplies.”

Global food supply and food security are directly affected by animal production and health. They play an important role in the economy, but also in the sustainability and growth of agriculture worldwide. Research funded through this program will look at the biological and physiological mechanisms in relation to disease prevention in ruminants, swine, poultry, equine and aquaculture species. Specifically, the projects will address the development of immune reagents, breeding for genetic resistance to disease, studying the ecology of diseases spread by vector insects, and developing improved vaccines. The discoveries made through these projects will improve animal health and well-being, enhance production efficiency, and support the safety of animal products by addressing challenges facing animal agriculture.

The USDA and BBSRC 2014 partnership concentrated on the following areas.

Animal health and disease

  • Research on emerging diseases and diseases of agriculturally relevant animals of high economic consequence in both the U.S. and U.K. (viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases)
  • Alternatives to current antimicrobials and anthelmintics used to treat disease in agricultural animals in both the U.S. and U.K.

Veterinary immune reagents

  • Development of publicly accessible immunological reagents for agriculturally-relevant animal species.

Fiscal year 2014 awards supported by the USDA include:

  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $499,999 - Host Resistance to Avian Pathogenic E. Coli (collaborative with the University of Edinburgh)
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $499,995 - Control of Emerging Bunyaviruses (collaborative with the University of Glasgow)
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Md., $477,903 - Reassembly of Cattle Immune Gene Clusters for Quantitative Analysis
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, Md., $500,000 - Swine Immune Toolkit: Development of new immune reagents for swine health, vaccine and disease studies (collaborative with the University of Bristol)
  • USDA Agricultural Research Service, Athens Ga., $325,000 - Evolution of the High Pathogenicity Phenotype in Avian Influenza Virus (NIFA is supporting years 2 and 3 of this award with $325,000; ARS is supporting year 1 with $175,000.)

Fiscal year 2014 awards supported by BBSRC include:

  • Swine Immune Toolkit: Development of new immune reagents for swine health, vaccine and disease studies. University of Bristol, £335,835 (collaborative with USDA ARS)
  • Reassembly of cattle immune gene clusters for quantitative analysis. The Pirbright Institute, £478,615
  • Control of emerging bunyaviruses. University of Glasgow, £597,187 (collaborative with Kansas State University)
  • Host Resistance to Avian Pathogenic E. coli. The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, £521,083 (collaborative with Iowa State University)
  • M2 gene splice variants in pathogenesis, transmission and induced immunity against highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, £461,362

Click here to read the full USDA press release.

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