UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network

by Madeleine Clark, The Pirbright Institute, UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network Coordinator 

Veterinary Vaccinology Workshop - Ghent May 2015
European Veterinary Vaccinology Workshop, Ghent, May 2015

The UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network was established in 2015, with funding from a five year grant of (£300,000) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The network now has over 400 members across the UK and further afield. Its purpose is to address unmet needs in veterinary vaccinology in the ongoing fight against animal diseases and those that have the potential to spread to humans (zoonotic diseases).

Save the date: UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network Annual Conference

16 - 17 January 2017
Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
 
The network aims to enhance collaborations between scientific researchers, industry, policymakers and regulators to design, develop and deliver safe and effective next-generation vaccines against new and (re)-emerging diseases. The organisation is managed by 12 Steering Group members, including Jenner Investigators Dr Bryan Charleston (The Pirbright Institute), Chairman, and Professor Adrian Hill (The Jenner Institute). The Steering Group has worked closely with the BBSRC to produce the Veterinary Vaccinology Strategy 2015 – 2020 and continues to support UK policy groups advising on veterinary vaccinology.

To develop these collaborations, the network hosts a number of events throughout the year. The annual UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference provides networking opportunities between researchers, industry and funders, as well as interactive case study sessions which allow  attendees to discuss contentious issues within veterinary vaccinology research and report back to policy makers. At the conference in January 2016, case study sessions included topics such as:

• Where can Veterinary Vaccinology have the biggest impact on the One Health agenda?
• A new unknown veterinary pathogen has emerged, what would be a decision tree for developing  a vaccine (or not)?
• Platform technologies, doing what we do, better. Platform technologies, what can we lead in?

In addition to the annual conference, the network also organises topic-specific workshops to enable discussions within a smaller group of scientists (approximately 20 attendees) on specific themes and problems in veterinary vaccinology. Workshop successes in 2015 have included a joint UK-US workshop hosted at the Roslin Institute on ‘Bioinformatics in veterinary vaccinology’, which has subsequently led to international collaborations, and an ‘Antigen discovery and proteomics of host response’ workshop, hosted at the Centre of Proteomics, University of Liverpool.

The network also collaborates with two Horizon 2020 EU grant consortiums, SAPHIR and PARAGON, and has hosted a ‘European Veterinary Vaccinology’ workshop in Ghent, Belgium, in May 2016. This was organised to provide integrated and up-to-date knowledge on the challenges facing the  development of effective veterinary vaccines. Throughout the year, the network continues to aid in developing collaborations by releasing an online monthly newsletter including recent news, events, funding opportunities and recently published papers.

It also has a website (www.vetvaccnet.ac.uk) which hosts a scientific paper and a Members’ Directory providing a useful system to find researchers in the vaccinology field internationally. A separate network for early career vaccinologists (ECVN) has also been established, creating a platform for those in the early stages of their career to form collaborations. The ECVN hosts journal clubs throughout the year, and participates in public engagement events, such as the Cheltenham Science Festival, to inspire and engage with the general public.

For more information please see www.vetvaccnet.ac.uk or contact Madeleine Clark, Veterinary Vaccinology Coordinator at enquiries@vetvaccnet.ac.uk .