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Stackyard News May 2012

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£23M Boost for Animal Health and Livestock Production

Improving animal health and welfare and improving productivity in the livestock sector will be boosted with a multi-million funding award.

Research at the Institute has ranged from showing the possibility of breeding cattle resistant to bovine tuberculosis to producing chickens, which through genetic modification, are unable to spread bird flu.


The Roslin Institute, at the University of Edinburgh has received £23 million from the Biotechnology and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences research Council (BBSRC).

The award, issued as the first phase of major five year research programmes, from the UK’s leading bioscience agency, will facilitate the world leading research at The Roslin Institute in the animal sciences sector over the next five years.

It will also fund new and existing facilities at The Roslin Institute, such as those looking at how genomics and genetics can help better understand diseases in livestock, which will form part of a number of UK National Resource Centres.

In the past year research at the Institute has ranged from showing the possibility of breeding cattle resistant to bovine tuberculosis to producing chickens, which through genetic modification, are unable to spread bird flu.

Professor David Hume, Director of The Roslin Institute, said of the award, “I am delighted to receive this support from the BBSRC. The Roslin Institute is one of the leading Animal Sciences Institutes in the world and this award highlights the importance of our research to the productivity of the UK livestock sector. Government support for research institutes is critical and vital for economic success. It is estimated that since the mid-1960s, The Roslin Institute has alone generated approximately £101.8 million in terms of value for productivity gains in the agricultural and food production sectors across the UK.”

A report published by BIGGAR Economics found that The Roslin Institute’s contribution to the Scottish economy was worth more than £40 million in 2009/10, with the Institute supporting 1,179 jobs.

The Institute also generates an additional £25 million for research, following on from BBSRC strategic funding.

Professor Hume said: “This new funding will enable us to undertake research that will lead to gains in the sector at a time when food production practices must be refined to accommodate the expanding world population.”

The Roslin Institute’s research is directed towards improving the health, welfare and productivity of major livestock species. It has research and development partnerships with more than 45 companies, involving livestock production as well as looking at improvements that can be made in animal and human health. It is also part of Easter Bush Research Consortium, with partnerships encompassing the Scottish Agricultural College and the Moredun Research Institute.

BBSRC funding to support National Resource Centres will enhance the work of The Roslin Institute’s ARK Genomics – the UK’s major centre for livestock genetics and genomics.

It will also support a multi-million pound National Avian Research Facility, a collaboration between The Roslin Institute and the Institute for Animal Health. The centre, planned for construction on the University of Edinburgh’s Easter Bush campus, will look at the biology of diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. Research will include looking at developing vaccines and treatments to improve the health and welfare of around one billion chickens raised in the UK every year, as well as ways to address the impact of poultry infections on human health.

The Roslin Institute is the largest employer in Midlothian, and an integral part of the Midlothian Council Life Sciences Strategy.

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