£77.3 million in government funding secured by Pirbright Institute

Leading scientists at The Pirbright Institute have welcomed the confirmation of funding for its key scientific research programmes for the next five years from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which was officially announced today.

Pirbright is an international centre of scientific excellence in the study of livestock diseases and is at the forefront of those organisations protecting the UK from the potentially devastating social and economic impact such diseases can have on the nation’s farming industry and food supply.

The Institute bid for grant funding, together with other UK research institutes, as part of the BBSRC’s Institute Assessment Exercise, which takes place every five years. Institutes must demonstrate the excellence of their science and how it meets strategic objectives as defined by BBSRC. Bids are independently assessed in a robust review process.

Pirbright bid for National Capability Grant and two key programmes of scientific research, securing a total of £77.3 million over the next five years. One research programme will focus on viruses; exploring how they behave and the mechanics of replication, evolution and transmission and will be closely linked to the work of Pirbright’s world-leading Reference Laboratories.

The second research programme will focus on the interaction between virus and host exploring what happens when an animal or insect becomes infected; how we can control the infection; why viruses persist and how they are transmitted. This programme will also include research into vaccines and immunity and will inform the Institute’s work using new gene editing technologies, with the potential to transform current methods of fighting disease.

Dr Bryan Charleston, Director of The Pirbright Institute said: “Today’s announcement is a major vote of confidence in our future as a provider of globally important bioscience. This funding will give us a strong foundation on which to build over the next five years.

“The threat to the UK from viral disease is increasing. The impact of global warming for example means viruses that once only affected tropical regions, are now threatening those in more temperate climates. Pirbright’s research to understand and develop innovative ways of combatting the threat of diseases that affect livestock and those that spread from animals to humans has never been more important”.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Chief Executive said, “BBSRC’s strategic funding investments in research, people and vital national capabilities at world leading bioscience institutes will deliver new knowledge and innovation and help realise the potential of a bio-based economy. The positive impacts in food, agriculture, energy, materials and health will help drive economic growth and deliver benefits to society across the UK and beyond”.

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