Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Annex 1

Additional information from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

INTRODUCTION

  1.  BBSRC is the principal UK funder of research across the biosciences. This includes a number of areas of relevance to this inquiry, including the fundamental biology of viruses; host-pathogen interactions; control of infectious diseases in animals; and zoonotic diseases. Between 2001 and 2004 BBSRC research funding directly on influenza totalled £1.8 million: including responsive-mode research grants, Core Strategic Grant (CSG) to BBSRC-sponsored Institutes, and studentships. The primary focus is on basic research aimed at advancing our knowledge of the virus and its interactions with host animals, both avian and mammalian.

  2.  Also, BBSRC's Advisor for Animal Health, Professor Paul-Pierre Pastoret, keeps a watching brief on developments regarding Avian Influenza through OIE and FAO.

BBSRC INSTITUTES

  3.  BBSRC provides CSG funding to seven Research Institutes, these also receiving some support from other organisations. The Institutes are instrumental in the delivery of long-term, strategic research for BBSRC. Together with BBSRC scientists at UK universities they provide a focal point for research and a critical mass of expertise that can be called upon to give independent advice to Government: they are also an important national capability that can be brought to bear on issues of concern.

  4.  The Institute for Animal Health (IAH) and Roslin Institute (RI) both have programmes of relevance to pandemic influenza research:

    -   IAH receives the majority of the CSG funding in this area. It operates a programme specifically investigating influenza biology and the response of avian hosts to infection;

    -   Through RI, BBSRC are at the forefront of efforts to sequence the chicken genome. The results of these efforts will help to identify factors involved in host-pathogen interactions and may enable the development of novel vaccines, antiviral drugs and new strategies to control avian flu.

  5.  IAH and RI are submitting a separate response to the inquiry.

PARTICULAR RELEVANCE OF BBSRC FUNDING

  6.  BBSRC's funding of research into the control of infectious diseases, including influenza, includes epidemiology and the dynamics of infection. In these and other areas BBSRC is positioned to provide funding to enhance our knowledge of disease processes through the study of fundamental biology of the virus and host. This is important for a long-term strategy for reducing the threat of pandemic influenza.



 
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