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European project to combat animal disease

Thursday 06 April 2017

This week saw the launch of VetBioNet, an EU-funded international project to combat infectious animal disease.

The network, which has been funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, will establish a comprehensive network of research facilities, academic institutes, international organizations and industry partners to study diseases that can spread between animals (zoonotic diseases) and promote new technological developments.

The network, launched this week at a meeting in Tours, in the Loire region, will be coordinated by France’s national agricultural research institute, INRA, and features 30 partners from 14 different countries (only 9 of which are EU member states - France, Netherlands, Germany, UK, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Ireland and Italy) with 10 million Euros in funding from the European Commission over the next 5 years. Five of INRA’s research units and platforms will be involved directly in the new public-private partnership.

The unpredictability and speed of spread of emerging epizootic and zoonotic diseases - to which France’s producers can attest, after three departments in the poultry producing south-west carried out preventative culls of kept birds to prevent further spread of the virulent H5N8 strain of bird flu circulating in the region earlier this year - necessitates cross-border cooperation between academic institutes, industries and government, INRA said. VetBioNet will drive the European R&D agenda on emerging animal diseases, to tackle future threats, which could be made worse by climate change.

The main areas of focus for the new project will be:

  • Joint Research Activities (JRAs) of the project partners related to animal infectious diseases and their prevention and control
  • Networking Activities (NAs) to foster the cooperation between project partners and to forge cooperative relationships with other European or international research initiatives, industrial stakeholders, international organisations and policy makers.
  • Transnational Access Activities (TNAs) – essentially providing access to high-containment facilities and technical resources free-of-charge to researchers or companies with projects related to specific diseases, across Europe’s national borders.

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