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Minister Visits Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright

by 5m Editor
6 December 2011, at 7:14am

UK - Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts MP, visited the Institute for Animal Health's (IAH) Pirbright campus on Friday, 2 December, to welcome the news of an additional £80M investment from government.

The funding will be made available to the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and, with additional support from BBSRC's own capital budget, will allow the construction of the £100M+ second phase of the development of the IAH campus at Pirbright.

The Minister was greeted by staff from IAH and BBSRC, which is the Institute's corporate trustee.

The Minister said: "The UK is a world leader in research into animal diseases, which is in no small part due to the excellent work of BBSRC and the Institute for Animal Health. It's been great to visit Pirbright today and see first-hand what a difference this investment will make. It will drive growth, create highly-skilled jobs and improve our understanding of diseases that can have devastating effects on our rural economy, including avian flu."

Following a short meeting with IAH and BBSRC senior management where the Minister saw plans for the next phase of redevelopment at Pirbright and the future vision of the Institute, the Minister took part in a brief tour of the site.

Professor John Fazakerley, Director, IAH said: "We were pleased to welcome the Minister for a return visit to our Pirbright campus. This is an exciting time for IAH, with one £100M building project already well under way, and we are looking forward to a bright future with the announcement of funding for the next stage of development. which will enable us to continue to make a major contribution to the UK, European and global economy."

The future vision is for a key global hub at Pirbright, which will be a central focus for research and innovation in animal virology and related disciplines. The new facilities are urgently required to underpin UK and EU capability in this area of research and will provide a single site with a variety of bio-containment level working environments.

Since the announcement on Tuesday, the farming community and poultry industry have welcomed the news, emphasising the importance of the research that goes on at IAH to support the UK's agricultural economy.

Peter Kendall, President of the National Farmers Union, said: "We are delighted with the investment at Pirbright, which will allow the Institute for Animal Health to build on its world-leading work on combating animal diseases like bird flu and foot and mouth, and help underpin the future of livestock farming."

Peter Bradnock, Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, said: "The British Poultry Council welcomes this funding for developing the work of IAH at Pirbright. In particular, the science behind new vaccines against certain poultry infections will underpin sustainable growth of the poultry production to the benefit of society, the environment, and of the birds themselves. We are pleased to see this commitment to science by the Government."

New avian research facilities and medium containment laboratories will now enter detailed design and planning work. IAH will work closely with the local authority and with communities local to the Pirbright site. The new facilities will become operational in 2016.