International consortium launched for animal health research

Fourteen organizations from 11 countries commit to investing 1 billion euros to advance animal health research.

Animal diseases can cause serious social, economic and environmental damage, affect animal welfare and, in some cases, directly threaten human health — and these diseases ignore borders.

Livestock provides one-third of human protein intake, so working together to develop new control methods for the disease problems that are common to countries around the world is essential to protect food security and the livestock industries.

Fourteen organizations from 11 countries have so far committed to jointly invest around 1 billion euros in the next five years through a new International Research Consortium for Animal Health (IRC) that was launched Jan. 27 in Brussels, Belgium.

European commissioner for agriculture and rural development Phil Hogan, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) director general Monique Eloit and professor Ian Boyd, chief scientific adviser for the U.K. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, spoke at the launch.

This new initiative, which builds upon several years of research networking on animal health supported by the European Union, aims to deliver measurable advancements in the control of animal diseases through the alignment of both public and privately funded animal health research programs around the world.

IRC includes research funders and program owners from Europe, Asia, Australasia, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East as well as international organizations and the representation of veterinary pharmaceutical companies. Together, they have committed 1 billion euros total to invest through 2021.

IRC partners have agreed to coordinate their research programs to address agreed-upon research needs, share results and, together, deliver new and improved animal health strategies for at least 30 priority diseases, infections or issues, including candidate vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics and other animal health products, procedures and/or key scientific information and tools to support risk analysis and disease control.

Signatories to date of the letter of intent to join the IRC include:

* The Danish National Veterinary Institute (DTU Vet), Denmark;

* The French Agency for Food, Environmental & Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), France;

* National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA), France;

* Ministry of Health, Italy;

* Biotechnology & Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC), U.K.;

* Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), U.K.;

* National Institute of Agriculture Technology (INTA), Argentina;

& Ministry of Science, Technology & Productive Innovation (MINCYT), Argentina;

* Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Canada;

* The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), U.S.;

* National Institute of Animal Health, National Agriculture & Food Research Organization (NIAH), Japan;

* International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya;

* Kimron Veterinary Institute, Israel, and

* Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency (TVLA), Tanzania.

Organizations with observer status include:

* European Manufacturers of Veterinary Diagnostics (EMVD), and

* HealthforAnimals.

The priority topics identified for initial collaboration include: immunology/vaccinology, diagnostics, innovative anti-infective approaches, influenza, bovine tuberculosis, foot and mouth disease, brucellosis, African swine fever, emerging issues, vector-borne diseases, coronaviruses, One Health (including foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance), mastitis, animal genetics/genomics for animal health, foresight, epidemiology, helminths, rabies and respiratory diseases of pigs.

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