BBSRC and DBT seek to bring research groups in the UK and India together to build on their combined strengths and work on projects, engaging with users, in particular farmers, with the aim of improving farmed animal health and welfare. Projects should build new links or strengthen existing links between India and the UK, and demonstrate how research in the two countries would be integrated.
The aim of this programme is to advance the mechanistic understanding of:
- susceptibility of farmed animals to infectious diseases
- resistance to disease treatment
with a focus on understanding host factors and farming practices that promote and prevent these.
Research area one: enhancing mechanistic understanding of host-pathogen interactions
Host-pathogen interaction is a dynamic process between diverse pathogens and host in all stages of pathogenic infection. It is vital to develop deeper understanding of such interactions not only to understand infectious disease, but also to develop effective detection and intervention strategies.
The aim is to use traditional and high throughput approaches to understand host-pathogen interactions from the basic molecular and cellular levels, all the way through to epidemiological use of big data sets and understanding the social drivers behind behavioural change around farming of animals.
Host-pathogen research areas can include, for example:
- develop tractable systems, such as models, cell lines and organoids to further research
- focus on pathogen and vector biology including pathogen ecology, evolution, transmission, and epidemiology
- elucidate host factors or mechanisms including genetic, adaptation, immune evasion, and disease persistence, impact of different production systems and direct or indirect interactions between pathogens, including co-infections
- the mechanisms that underpin susceptibility including spill over events, for instance zoonoses, reverse zoonoses and epizootics
Research area two: tackling Vet-AMR (includes bacterial, parasitic and viral pathogens) for the purpose of improving animal health
The emergence of Vet-AMR is causing devastating impacts on animal health by hampering the effectiveness of treatments. The focus is to develop mechanistic understanding of how resistance develops and use that information to develop intervention strategies to reduce reliance on antimicrobials and develop the next generation of alternatives to antimicrobials.
The aim is to understand:
- fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms of antimicrobial or anthelmintic resistance
- drivers and risk factors of Vet-AMR spread in India and the UK, including the generation and sharing of AMR usage datasets
- AMR potential in different ecologies, including the genetics of host and transmission dynamics between wildlife, livestock, humans and environment
Key research areas for Vet-AMR can include, for example:
- affordable, pen-side diagnostics to detect AMR on farms
- effective therapeutics, including alternatives
- unified protocols and data on antimicrobial usage and resistance across different levels (animal, farm, local, national) to better monitor AMR in India and UK settings
Projects that focus on the development of models, data or integration of social sciences aspects with relevance to both host-pathogen interactions and Vet-AMR are particularly welcome.
We expect to fund a range of proposals which span the two research areas. Proposals may focus on either one of the two research areas or work across both of them.
We encourage larger multidisciplinary consortia proposals.
A key goal of the programme is to develop new insights, approaches and technologies that support the needs of users, such as industry, local communities, and national, state, and local-level policymakers and regulators.
To achieve this, it is essential that projects are designed in consultation with users and that they are involved throughout. You should set out in your proposal which users are participating in the projects, how they will be engaged, and how the outputs and outcomes address your requirements.
Carrying out research should include careful consideration of context-specific gender and equality challenges and be conducted in a gender-sensitive way.
In all cases, you should fully justify the proposed focus of the project and demonstrate how the research will contribute to the delivery of the programme’s objectives.
Where appropriate collaboration with industry would be welcomed, however BBSRC and DBT will not provide funding for such collaborators.
Use of animals
You should consider the BBSRC policy statements on the use of animals in research and must ensure that all of the proposed research, in the UK and in India, will comply with the principles of BBSRC’s and other UK funders’ common guidance on ‘responsibility in the use of animals in bioscience research’.
In particular, UK institutions should be aware of the following aspect of the guidance relating to research or collaboration outside the UK:
When collaborating with other laboratories, or where animal facilities are provided by third parties, researchers and the local ethics committee in the UK should satisfy themselves that welfare standards consistent with the principles of UK legislation (for example the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986), and set out in this guidance, are applied and maintained. Where there are significant deviations, prior approval from the funding body should be sought and agreed.
You should also be aware of DBT’s guidance:
Institutional and national biosafety guidelines for studies related to usage of infectious agents and/or handling of animals infected with such organisms must be followed. Regulations that control the use of non-human animals for scientific experimentation in India and UK should be considered while preparing the project proposals.
Mode of treatment, restraint, alleviation of pain and suffering using appropriate anaesthesia or medication with detailed description of procedures etc. should be provided in the proposal. Handling and disposal of infectious organism or infected animals should also be followed according to local (city) and national norms.
Investigators should provide a signed statement that 1) they will follow guidelines for use of animals for research available in UK and in India and that 2) before initiation of the proposed research work, appropriate approvals from Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA)/Institutional and/or central animal ethics and biosafety committees will be obtained for experimental protocols to be adopted in their projects.
If your research involves the use of animals or human participants, you are expected to detail the potential for public concern relating to the research and what you will do during the course of the project to address these concerns.
Projects must commence no later than 1 April 2024.