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Lab for Virus Research Opened at Pirbright

by 5m Editor
25 October 2011, at 10:41am

UK - Minister has marked milestones in new £100-million world-class laboratory build at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in Pirbright.


Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, has led a ceremony to mark milestones in construction of a brand new high-containment facility at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) in Pirbright, Surrey.

He said: "The Government has made significant investment in this world-class facility, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of research into animal diseases. This brings benefits for animal and human health, the agricultural industry and global food security. I am very impressed by the outstanding progress being made here at Pirbright."

Staff from IAH and construction staff from national contractor, Shepherd Construction Ltd, were joined by guests to take part in a traditional 'topping out' ceremony. The ceremonial signing of a steel beam by the Minister; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Chief Executive, Professor Douglas Kell; IAH Director, Professor John Fazakerley; and other invited VIPs was preceded by speeches celebrating the progress of the project and highlighting the role that the Institute and the new facility will play in protecting the UK from viral diseases of farmed animals.

Professor Kell said: "We at BBSRC are tremendously proud to be supporting the excellent and vital work done at the Institute for Animal Health. With the backing of the department for Business Innovation and Skills we have been able to fund this strategically important project, which in total exceeds 100 million pounds. This will enable the institute to continue its ground-breaking and world-changing research into important diseases of livestock such as foot-and-mouth, bluetongue and African swine fever."

The project is currently on time and within budget and the building with its central hub and three wings is visibly taking shape.

Professor Fazakerley commented: "This new building is part of an ambitious vision for the Institute, which will provide our world-class researchers with unrivalled facilities to take forward their research into some of the most economically and socially important viruses on the planet.

"The lab will house over 150 highly-skilled scientists and support staff in a unique facility that includes brand-new and improved approaches to high containment. These approaches have been developed through an excellent programme of research and development running alongside the build."

IAH is a world-leading centre of excellence for research into viral diseases of livestock. The Institute receives strategic funding from BBSRC, which is also the Institute's corporate trustee.

This centre requires world-class facilities and will benefit from this rebuilding of laboratory space. In July 2009 it was announced that Pirbright would be redeveloped with funding from BBSRC and the department for Business Innovation and Skills Large Facilities Capital Fund.

The new lab will be the centre of what will eventually form a globally important campus bringing together unique infrastructure, leading scientists, support for collaboration and space to nurture and grow synergistic small and medium enterprises. This will provide a unique national capability that will be an unrivalled resource for researchers and industry across the UK animal health sector and beyond. IAH is already at the centre of many international networks and partnerships and the envisioned campus can support and strengthen such collaborations.