BBSRC and USDA-NIFA partner for animal disease prevention research

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the United Kingdom’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have announced five jointly-funded research awards that total more £2.3M from BBSRC and $2.3M from NIFA for the US-UK Collaborative Animal Health and Disease and Veterinary Immune Reagents program.

This US-UK partnership addresses high impact diseases and animal health issues relevant to both countries.

“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,” said 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 Deputy Chief Executive, International, said: “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 (cattle, goat, sheep), 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 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

NIFA funded the grants through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: food safety, nutrition and health; plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; bioenergy energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

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