Researchers from University of Bristol, University of Nottingham and University of Liverpool are set to benefit from part of the £9m/$11.5m funding provided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and other key partners. The investment forms part of an £11.5m/$14.7m multi-phase initiative designed to reduce the burden of endemic diseases on animal health, welfare and productivity.
The goal is to deliver innovative on-farm solutions that will effectively mitigate the impact of endemic diseases on the UK livestock sector. To date, the initiative has facilitated the formation of 45 new industry partnerships, engaging more than 170 end-users including farmers, veterinarians and policymakers to ensure that the research outcomes directly address their practical needs.
Nine of the 14 projects – which encompass the breadth of the livestock sector, including beef, sheep, poultry, pigs and dairy - incorporate technologies to advance disease monitoring, diagnosis and prevention.
Academics from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences have secured a total of £1.4m/$1.8m from the program for three research projects, including Genetic and management solutions for lameness-associated endemic diseases in dairy cattle, which is led by professor George Oikonomou. Ambitions for this project are to achieve widespread and rapid impact via an extensive knowledge exchange programme underpinned by implementation science research.
Two further studies – one led by Dr Kannan Ganapathy and focused on preventing drops in egg production in free-range flocks; and another led by professor Diana Williams, who will explore the delivery of rapid diagnostic tests to help identify infected sheep and cattle and target treatment – will also be funded.
Elsewhere, principal investigator professor Andrew Dowsey from University of Bristol will leverage AI to monitor changes in the social behavior of dairy cattle in order to detect disease; and Digital platform for sustainable health: a step change in reducing endemic disease in dairy cattle led by professor Jasmeet Kaler of University of Nottingham has also been backed.
Other projects of note include a platform for the control of bovine viral diarrhea, as well as the development of precision solutions for controlling the infectious disease fascioliasis in sheep. The full list of grantees can be seen below.
Professor Guy Poppy, Interim Executive Chair at BBSRC, said: “Endemic diseases in the UK livestock sector pose significant challenges to animal welfare, productivity and sustainable farming practices. By bringing together the collective expertise of academia, industry and end-users, we are confident this initiative will lead to ground-breaking advancements in disease control, fostering a healthier and more productive livestock sector.”
The 14 projects
- Forestry by-products as novel therapeutics for parasite control in livestock - Dr Spiridoula Athanasiadou, Scotland’s Rural College
- Monitoring the gut microbiome via artificial intelligence (AI) and omics: a new approach to detect infection and anti-microbial resistance and support novel therapeutics in broiler precision farming - Dr Tania Dottorini, University of Nottingham
- AI to monitor changes in social behaviour for the early detection of disease in dairy cattle - Professor Andrew Dowsey, University of Bristol
- Preventing drops in egg production in UK free-range flocks: understanding the interactions between farm practices, flock coinfections and immunity - Dr Kannan Ganapathy, University of Liverpool
- Next generation vaccines for bovine respiratory disease complex utilising virus vaccine vectors to target both bacterial and viral pathogens - Dr William Golde, Moredun Research Institute
- Precision solutions for controlling fasciolosis in sheep - Dr Rhys Jones, Aberystwyth University
- Digital platform for sustainable health: a step change in reducing endemic disease in dairy cattle - Professor Jasmeet Kaler, University of Nottingham
- CO-ADAPT: adaptive management of endemic co-infections in ruminant livestock under climate change - Professor Eric Morgan, Queen’s University of Belfast
- A UK platform for the control of bovine viral diarrhea: application of a novel disease simulation model to guide programme development and policy design
- Principal investigator: Dr Luke O’Grady, University of Nottingham
- Genetic and management solutions for lameness-associated endemic diseases in dairy cattle - Professor Georgios Oikonomou, University of Liverpool
- Unravelling the aetiology of stunting in UK broiler flocks through the use of novel microdissection and viral meta-transcriptomic sequencing tools - Dr Victoria Smyth, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute
- Protecting pigs from enzootic pneumonia: rational design of safe attenuated vaccines - Professor Dirk Werling, Royal Veterinary College
- Delivery of rapid diagnostic tests for sustainable control of parasitic diseases in sheep and cattle - Professor Diana Williams, University of Liverpool
- Effects of co-infections on Marek’s disease in poultry and development of novel recombinant Marek’s disease virus vector vaccines - Dr Yongxui Yao, The Pirbright Institute