Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 14:50 UK

100m boost for UK government lab

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

Pirbright laboratory
Pirbright laboratories were labelled 'dilapidated'

The UK research institute at the centre of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak two years ago has been given £100m to build new laboratories.

The head of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) at Pirbright in Surrey, said that the state-of-the-art facilities are as safe as they can be.

Research at the new laboratory will focus on controlling the spread of diseases as a result of climate change.

Scientists will also combat the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

The episode two years ago drew attention to the state of the facilities at the site - which one report described as "shabby and dilapidated".

According to the institute's director, Martin Shirley, the new investment will enable him to build laboratories that are world class and meet the highest standards of biosecurity.

"What I hope is that it will give confidence to all our stakeholders that here at Pirbright we have the world's leading experts. That it will be state-of-the-art and it will be as safe as it can possibly be."

Research at the new laboratory will focus on controlling the spread of diseases as a result of climate change, dealing with the growing threat to food security and combating diseases that spread from animals to humans such as swine flu and bird flu.

"There is an increasing recognition that diseases won't go away," says Professor Shirley.

Globally, a new animal disease is said to appear roughly every two years. Three quarters of these are viral or have some potential to spread to humans.

"I think there is a recognition that research in this area is important for the wellbeing of the UK".



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