As part of our strategic challenge in food security, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) established the Animal Health Research Club (ARC) in 2012. Tasked with bringing together industrial stakeholders and the academic community, ARC supports industrially relevant research that provides new understanding, methods, and breeding tools, to increase the resistance and resilience of farmed animals to pests and diseases.
Animal health is a high priority for the livestock industry. Prevention and treatment, as well as lost animals and productivity, can be costly. The 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease cost the UK economy as much as £8 billion, while more than £600 million is spent on animal health products in the UK each year.
To date ARC, including BBSRC, the Scottish Government and its eight industry members has invested over £10 million in 15 research projects and five PhD studentships. This investment has enabled innovative precompetitive research which generates the knowledge and skills that underpin industry advances, and is facilitating knowledge exchange between the communities, which will have lasting impact.
Consulting with industrial stakeholders, the ARC community identified important and industrially relevant research challenges:
- understanding the basis of resistance/resilience to pests and diseases in farmed animal species
- developing novel tools for defining disease biomarkers and phenotypes to inform breeding strategies for subclinical diseases and increased disease resistance
- understanding variation in vaccine responsiveness, immuno-competence at different developmental stages and disease outcomes
- determining the effects of selection for production traits on immune function.
ARC has eight industry members who contribute to funding research and take part in directing the Club’s activities. ARC has a total budget of approximately £10 million:
- £965,000 – industrial membership subscriptions
- £831,000 – the Scottish Government
- £8 million – BBSRC
- Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
- Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Beef and Lamb
- Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Dairy
- Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Pork
- Benchmark Animal Health
Andy Tait, ARC coordinator
Callum Harvey, ARC coordinator
Bioscience for Industry Strategy Advisory Panel
Last updated: 31 March 2022