The Endemic Livestock Diseases Initiative aims to meaningfully reduce the overall level and impact of endemic disease on the UK livestock sector, to improve productivity and the health and welfare of animals. The initiative will bring academia and businesses together to co-create novel prevention and intervention solutions.
The scope of the phase two opportunity has been developed in consultation with UK agricultural businesses and policymakers and is in line with the phase one opportunity ‘develop solutions for endemic livestock disease’.
Phase two of the initiative will make larger and longer grants available to enable research and innovation partnerships that progress challenges associated with endemic disease in livestock. The grants will support partnerships with businesses across the agricultural sector, including farmers and practitioners, to purposefully drive the development of solutions through collaborative research and development projects.
The total fund amount available for this opportunity is up to £7.35 million. The full economic cost of your project can be up to £1,000,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. Project partners must contribute a minimum of 10% cash or in-kind (or both) to the project. The 10% contribution may be made either by an individual project partner or by a consortium of project partners.
Awards are for a maximum of 36 months.
A range of approaches are welcomed. Projects should address the themes, however these are not comprehensive or exclusionary. The scope is solutions-focused and research and translation activities that cut across the themes are encouraged.
We welcome proposals that incorporate the expertise of social scientists in the project to ensure that behaviour change is given proper consideration as part of translating research into impact. However, the majority of the research must be within the remit of BBSRC.
Technology development, data generation and data platforms, and the underpinning biology necessary to apply digital technology, are all in scope for this opportunity.
- sensors to monitor and control environments can help prevent disease outbreaks
- cameras monitoring animal behaviour can provide an early indicator of disease and a baseline for welfare assessment
- modelling of data from these and a myriad of other sources can predict outbreaks and provide valuable decision support tools
- use of data analytics to integrate data across multiple domains and identify systems biology responses to infection or vaccination.
Genetics and breeding
There are knowledge gaps that prevent the use and application of modern breeding techniques to endemic livestock disease prevention, and specific challenges relating to technology and practices for sheep and beef cattle.
We encourage proposals that:
- improve understanding of the genetics determining response to infection and co-infection
- explore immunology and immune function
- identify gene targets through whole genome sequencing and phenotyping
- apply genome editing technology to endemic livestock disease management.
Evidence-based on-farm management practices are essential and may be the most realistic way to mitigate against certain endemic livestock diseases, which have a welfare impact on the animals
The adoption and implementation of new solutions by farmers is an important consideration, as well as structural factors, such as policies and regulations influencing farm management to drive improvements in animal health (for example, Red Tractor Food Assurance).
Collaborations with farmers exploring practice-based approaches to endemic livestock disease prevention and treatment are strongly encouraged in this opportunity.
Vaccine platforms and technologies
There are many vaccines available for livestock, however they are not all used effectively for a variety of reasons.
We encourage proposals that:
- establish and characterise ‘plug and play’ platforms that can be used for rapid identification of target antigens, vectors and delivery systems for pathogens
- develop novel delivery platforms with an understanding of site specific, protective immunity and the ability to target vaccine delivery to these sites
- develop vaccine platform technologies that can integrate multiple antigens in one vaccine
- develop vaccine platforms and accompanying enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay tests for serological discrimination that are DIVA (Differentiating Infected from Vaccinated Animals) compliant
- develop rapidly deployable vaccine platforms for pathogens to combat antimicrobial resistance
- carry out systemic evaluation of vaccine efficacy across species and pathogens
- carry out epidemiological post-introduction evaluation studies in the field, and explore the socio-economic impacts of veterinary vaccine interventions at different levels.
Novel approaches aiming to reduce application of traditional medicines and antibiotics, including nutrition, precision and microbiome approaches, are encouraged.
Many endemic livestock diseases are chronic and lower the immune response, making the animal susceptible to establishing other infections that might not be severe in healthy individuals.
The high frequency of co-infections also drives ineffective treatment practices, such as the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics for animals diagnosed with viral infections.
Some of the most significant endemic livestock diseases, such as mastitis and lameness, are now understood to be infections with multiple organisms, which inhibits and complicates prevention and treatment.
Co-infections are not well understood and so research leading to more effective treatments for complex diseases and the reduction of antibiotic use is needed.
The following are excluded from the remit of this funding opportunity:
- bovine tuberculosis research is not included as it already receives extensive funding from BBSRC and the co-funders of this initiative
- research on general animal nutrition is not in scope.
You are expected to work within our framework for responsible innovation.
You should consider and implement plans for responsible innovation throughout the research project, and include details of these in the application, including specific actions that will be taken.
Equality, diversity and inclusion
BBSRC recognises that excellence in science requires diversity and equality to promote innovation and creativity. To do so effectively, all available talent must be harnessed. We expect equality and diversity to be an integral part, at all levels of research practices, as a part of our funding portfolio.
We want to ensure that equality principles are applied to all funding activities, and consider that no one should be excluded or hindered from a career in science because of their protected characteristics as defined in the Equality Act 2010, including:
- civil partnership or marriage
- ethnic background
- pregnancy or maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation.
We are committed to supporting the research community, offering a range of flexible options that allow you to design a package that fits your research goals, career and personal circumstances. Therefore, these aspects should be strongly ingrained into the projects proposed for this opportunity.
Learn more about our equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
Grant additional conditions
Grants are awarded under the standard UK Research and Innovation grant terms and conditions.
The following additional grant conditions will also apply. Grant holders:
- will be expected to liaise with the external coordinator of the Endemic Livestock Diseases Initiative as required
- will be required to submit annual progress reports as requested. Guidance will be provided about any reports
- will be expected to participate in meetings with both industrial members and other participants
- will be required to respond to requests from BBSRC regarding project outcomes, both during and following the end of the award
- may be invited to participate in community workshops and other events by BBSRC.