An integrated approach to infectious disease in the UK

04 February 2009

A more integrated approach to infectious disease research, with closer collaboration between human and veterinary medicine, has potential benefits for the UK's ability to tackle human and animal infectious diseases. This statement describes these benefits and the associated challenges of adopting such an approach. It is based on the input from leading experts in human and veterinary medicine with expertise spanning basic and applied research on a range of pathogens.

Key points from the statement include:

  • A more integrated approach would lead to overall improvements in public health and decrease response times to major infectious disease incidents.
  • Effective organisational structures are required to avoid the fragmentation of research support and policy which currently results from the different funding mechanisms for animal (eg through Defra and BBSRC) and human (eg through DH and MRC) health research.
  • The redevelopment of the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) facility at Pirbright should be a priority.
  • Due to the high cost of epidemics there is a strong economic argument to protect the future of the UK's precautionary research base through increased investment in infectious disease research.
  • A National Institute for Infectious Diseases (NIID) should be created to bring together human and animal research.