Core Partner, BSL4, EU


The Pirbright Institute, formerly known as the Institute for Animal Health, is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. Working to enhance capability to contain, control and eliminate these economically and medically important diseases, the Institute’s highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience contributes to global food security and health, improving quality of life for animals and people. Our top level objectives ensure that our work is focused to where it can create the greatest impact.

Our strategic priorities are: (i) research and surveillance on high consequence livestock and
zoonotic virus diseases present in, or which threaten, the UK and Europe; (ii) research into fundamental science underpinning the control of livestock and zoonotic virus diseases including, virus genetics, virus-cell interactions, disease pathogenesis, livestock and avian immunology and vaccinology and arthropod-virus interactions and (iii) applied science to control livestock and zoonotic virus diseases including genetically modified animals and arthropod vectors, vaccines, antivirals, diagnostics and mathematical modelling of disease outbreaks.

Fundamental scientific questions to be addressed include: (i) why do livestock and zoonotic viruses emerge and what determines their transmissibility, persistence and evolution? (ii) what are the viral determinants of diversity, productive infection, disease and protective immunity? (iii) how do livestock immune systems combat viral infections, respond to vaccines and generate immunity? (iv) what is the role of arthropod vectors in the distribution and intensity of arbovirus outbreaks, how do arthropods respond to virus infections and how may arbovirus transmission be prevented? Our existing and growing capacity and expertise in vector-borne diseases supports the development and supply of insect lines and insect cell lines.

Applied science to be undertaken includes: (i) surveillance to inform policy and control of livestock virus diseases worldwide and to reduce the probability of a UK outbreak; (ii) development of new and novel detection and diagnostic systems and (iii) development, to the pre-clinical stage, of new candidate vaccines. Our international surveillance activities have led to the establishment of large and well characterized virus collections that complement the existing EVA archive. We are already actively engaged in developing and providing proficiency test panels and training for third parties and in providing viruses, reagents, cell lines and animal models.