More than 600 scientists are joining forces to create a consortium
streamlining research on animal diseases and its implications for
The Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) involves researchers
from The Roslin Institute, its new host the Royal (Dick) School
of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, SAC (Scottish
Agricultural College) and the Moredun Research Institute.
A two-day conference starting today (MON) at the Edinburgh International
Conference Centre will herald the EBRC’s launch. Delegates
will address issues ranging from the spread of diseases, such as
scrapie and malaria, to meeting the increasing demand for livestock
due to a growing global population while minimising the environmental
impact this may have.
Professor David Hume, Director of The Roslin Institute, which recently
joined with the University of Edinburgh, said: “The Easter
Bush Research Consortium will create one of the largest concentrations
of experts in animal life sciences in the world. It will bring
together a wide-range of expertise from different disciplines,
with a view to fostering new ideas and streamlining research.”
Research within the EBRC will include effective disease controls
and treatments, food safety, animal welfare and sustainable management
of farm animals as well as focus on animal and human health. This
includes identifying new and emerging diseases that can pass from
livestock and wild animals to humans and understanding the ways
in which these diseases work.
Ian Pearson, Minister for Science and Innovation, said: “The
UK is already rightly seen as a location of choice for world class
research in the global market. The EBRC will offer us an additional
“The advantage of having such expertise and hi-tech facilities
in the same location is obvious. This will help the EBRC tackle
major diseases like BSE and scrapie as well as pressing future
challenges such as feeding a growing population.”
A major research focus of the EBRC will be on the role that genes
play in animal health. This includes both the influence they have
on disease as well as the importance of genes in ensuring optimum
livestock production, amid forecasts that the global demand for
livestock products is expected to double within the next 50 years
as a result of a growing and increasing affluent population.
In addition to genetic selection, research from the EBRC will
have implications for disease diagnosis and surveillance, vaccination,
animal nutrition and husbandry.
Maggie Gill, the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor
for Rural Affairs and the Environment, said: “The quality
of Scottish science is held in the highest regard around the world.
Our strengths in agricultural and biological research are vital
in developing effective disease controls and treatments, with important
implications for both animal and human health.
“It is great to see Scottish scientists working together
through this consortium to play a leading role in understanding
the ways in which these diseases work. This is an important step
forward for animal health and welfare research.”
Following the completion of a £58 million building for The
Roslin Institute in 2010, £37 million of which is funded
by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council,
the EBRC will be based around the University’s Easter Bush
campus and the Pentlands Science Park with the benefits of its
scientists being able to pool resources.
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