I had expected to start last week by going to the Royal Society to attend the speech of, and discussion with, EU Commissioner for Research Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who we had met previously in the context of the KBBE, but a ‘perfect storm’ of train problems (multiple floods, vandals and signalling) conspired against me. However, BBSRC was well represented, and there was due recognition of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change that we are leading with INRA.
Tag: animal health
Last week started with a major announcement, and an important opening of a research facility previously sanctioned. The new announcement was for a £100 million building programme for facilities at our Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright. Since the major UK-wide outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in 2001, and subsequent reports such as those by Anderson (twice (PDF)), Beringer, Callaghan, Gilligan (PDF) and Gull (PDF), the value of maintaining research into exotic animal diseases, and preferably concentrating it at a well-constructed world-class site, has been well recognised. For instance, Anderson showed that the costs (PDF) of the 2001 FMD outbreak were some £8,000 million, and an independent report (PDF) showed that pre-emptive action by Philip Mellor and his colleagues at the IAH prevented the incursion of bluetongue disease into the UK at a financial saving (PDF) for one year alone of £485 million – let alone the saving in human and animal misery. We are all really delighted with this new announcement, that will put BBSRC researchers, and the UK as a whole, at the forefront of research into diseases of this type – many of which are viral (such as ‘swine’ flu) and as zoonotic diseases can infect humans as well as animals. [...]
The week began (leaving aside a historic victory at Lord’s) with a meeting with several other funders designed to ensure joined-up strategies for the funding of research into animal health, a topic of considerable importance to BBSRC. Other activities included a useful dinner with the Technology Strategy Board, a monthly meeting of the RCUK (Chief) Executive Group, a talk from John Wilbanks (Executive Director of the Science Commons and a leading light at Creative Commons) at the British Library on Scientific findings in a digital world, and co-chairing a session on Systems Biology at the major biennial Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology meeting, held this year in Manchester. [...]