‘Priming Partnerships in Endemic Livestock Disease’ workshop
The goal of this workshop is to bring different communities and disciplines, such as technology companies, computer science and the social sciences, together to:
- build up thoughts on how the UK livestock endemic disease challenge can be addressed
- develop their innovative ideas and activities into research projects.
The workshop will be held virtually over two weeks from 5 to 26 November. It will consist of six three-hour group sessions, with extra time for independent working (updated 5 October 2021: the session length has been increased from two hours to three hours following discussion with the facilitators).
A diverse group of participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds will get together over two weeks to immerse themselves in collaborative thinking processes in order to develop innovative solutions.
The workshop will be an intensive, interactive and free-thinking environment.
The workshop will be led by facilitators, who will be supported by a team of expert mentors.
Please be advised attendance at all six workshop sessions is expected. However, we acknowledge that people may have unavoidable commitments, so please do not let them prevent you from applying if you believe you can fully embrace the collaborative nature of the workshop.
Applications will be developed in a process that will involve:
- defining on-farm challenges around endemic livestock disease.
- evolving common languages and terminologies amongst people from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines.
- sharing understandings of the challenges and the expertise brought by the participants to the workshop.
- break-out sessions focused on the challenges, using creative thinking techniques to co-create research to begin tackling the challenges.
- developing proposals for highly innovative, collaborative and multidisciplinary research or translation projects.
- submitting proposals by 14 December 2021.
Participants should be able to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience to develop innovative research arising from a systems perspective, with the potential to deliver results focused on tackling endemic livestock disease.
As the workshop progresses, participants will form multidisciplinary teams and build up thoughts on how the identified ‘challenges’ may be addressed and develop their innovative ideas and activities into research projects. These projects will contain genuinely novel and speculative research and should aim to:
- reduce the overall levels and impact of endemic disease on the livestock sector productivity
- improve the health and welfare of animals in the UK herd.
At the end of the two-week workshop, groups will share their ideas with all workshop participants, and be provided with feedback from the mentors and director. Some participants will then be invited to develop their research proposal for submission between the end of the workshop and 14 December 2021.
This list of themes is not comprehensive, nor should they be siloed. The scope is solutions-focused. Proposals for the ‘Priming Partnerships in Endemic Livestock Disease’ funding opportunity will be developed during the workshop.
Research and translation activities that cut across the themes are recommended and encouraged.
Behaviour change should be an important research output, not a research subject. We welcome participation of social scientists in the workshop and in proposals to ensure the behaviour change aspect of research translation is shown proper consideration.
During the workshop, there’ll be opportunities for applicants to engage farmers in their research to understand what behaviour change is realistic or desirable in order for their research to make a difference, even for those projects years away from market. The extent of this engagement will vary depending on the research subject.
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.
Breeding for disease resistance
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
- applying 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 herd.
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 multiple reasons including:
- impractical delivery systems
- resource and time requirements
- perceived and real issues with efficacy
- in some instances, vaccination interfering with diagnosis during an outbreak.
Proposals that develop ‘differentiating infected from vaccinated animals’ (DIVA) technologies and those which explore alternative, efficient, reliable vaccine delivery mechanisms are therefore particularly welcome. Development and adaptation of universal vaccine platforms for livestock endemic disease are also encouraged.
Novel approaches aiming to reduce application of traditional medicines and antibiotics, including nutrition, precision and microbiome approaches, are encouraged.
Research on general animal nutrition is not in scope for this funding opportunity.
Many endemic livestock diseases are chronic and lower the immune system, 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.
It is expected that up to £1.95 million will be available to fund up to 15 successful research proposals.
Participants with successful proposals resulting from this workshop should aim to start their project by May 2022 and complete their project within one year.
The full economic cost of each project can range from £125,000 to £250,000. BBSRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost (£100,000 to £200,000) of each project.
If academic applicants are part of a successful project, their institution will be required to fund 20% of the full economic cost project costs (as standard).
Intellectual property (IP)
The workshop relies on participants being open and honest with each other. Discussions will be open and focused on pre-competitive research. IP arrangements for funded projects should be agreed after the workshop when the proposal is being written.