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Smarter About Rural Animal Health: SRUC and Moredun share research ideas to tackle the big questions

Moredun Research Institute (MRI) and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have set out plans for their new strategic partnership to benefit Scotland’s livestock and farming industries.

Announced in Nov 2017, the partnership between MRI and SRUC will drive innovation, increase productivity and create opportunities for growth by meeting national and international challenges.

The partnership will initially be composed of two key areas: Collaborative Research Projects and Shared Facilities for Veterinary Services.

To support the partnership, MRI and SRUC Veterinary Services teams will share new purpose built laboratories on the MRI’s Pentlands Science Park, near Edinburgh. Once the move is complete in January 2019, the reconfigured laboratories will be the home of the SRUC Veterinary Services analytical laboratories and allow them to work closely with colleagues in MRI. This will be of particular benefit for Scottish Government’s Animal Disease Surveillance Programme.

Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC Prof Wayne Powell said; “The shared space and vision created by our strengthened partnership with MRI is already leading to new ideas and new approaches. Over many years we have been working closely to translate the lessons learned from disease surveillance into research initiatives that have led to improved approaches to diagnostics and then completed the circle by enhancing surveillance. Collaboration is key to the future of the sector at home and internationally.”

“The new approach to the analytical services creates critical scientific and intellectual mass, develops economies of scale and promotes investment in state-of-the-art, high precision technology that best serves the needs of Scotland’s livestock and other farming industries.”

Teams from SRUC and MRI are now sharing the laboratories. Over the summer, two of the SRUC Veterinary Services disease surveillance teams - Microbiology and Histopathology - made the move to the new diagnostic facilities.

The rest of the Veterinary Services Analytical Teams will make the move to Pentlands Science Park, from the nearby Bush Estate, in early 2019.

For the Collaborative Research Projects the teams at SRUC and Moredun have also been working together over recent months to look at joint opportunities in three key areas: Smart Farming, Biosecurity and Enhanced Food Production that will contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and attract increased public and private investment.

Alasdair Nisbet, Head of the Vaccines Pillar at Moredun, commented: “We set out to establish a set of research projects which span scientific disciplines and incorporate the key areas where each organisation could bring capacity and innovation to design projects which play to our unique strengths and which could not be attempted by either organisation individually. Through a series of highly innovative workshops we have formed a number of research proposals around the three main areas of Biosecurity, Smart Farming and Enhanced Food Production and we will be driving these projects forward in the coming year.”