£7 million awarded to build animal vaccine research centre

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been awarded £7 million to support the creation of an industry-leading veterinary vaccinology and cell therapy hub on its Hawkshead campus.

The hub will bring together top veterinary and human medical science researchers to advance the ‘One Health’ approach.

It’s hoped the work conducted at this facility will accelerate the development of next-generation vaccines and cell therapies that will fight key animal infections and ultimately protect humans.

Cattle, pigs and poultry, will be the main focus of the hub because they are the species that provide much of our animal-derived dietary protein.

The hub’s facilities will support the use of large animal models in vaccine development to create species-specific immunological tools or reagents, replacing the more common use of mice to formulate vaccines for livestock.

Due to open in the summer of 2020, the hub will contain specialist facilities, such as laboratories, housing for animals and an incubator for small businesses, and is part of a multi-million-pound redevelopment plan for the RVC’s Hawkshead campus.

Welcoming the announcement of the award, Prof. Stuart Reid CBE, principal of the RVC, said: “We are delighted to have secured such a significant grant from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

“It will make a huge difference to what we can achieve in the next phase of development of our Hawkshead Campus, supporting the college’s research mission to contribute globally in a One Health context to some of the most significant challenges facing society.”

Prof. Jonathan Elliott, vice-principal for research and innovation of the RVC, said: “This is an exciting development for the RVC which will impact of its future success as a research-led higher education institute.

“With the support of Hertfordshire LEP, the RVC will be able to create a hub of research activity in this region that brings together academia and business to develop new vaccines, diagnostic tools and cell therapies.”

Nitin Dahad, chairman of the Enterprise and Innovation Board, Hertfordshire LEP, said: “We are very keen to facilitate greater collaboration between research institutions and business to advance next-generation healthcare.

“The amount awarded demonstrates the importance we attach to this project and strengthens Hertfordshire’s position as a potential global leader for vaccine and cell therapy research.”