A new £1.6 million centre for animal disease surveillance and research is aimed at achieving more reliable and more efficient diagnoses of livestock animal diseases for the whole of Scotland.

Based near Edinburgh, the Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory expects to analyse more than a million samples a year.

Diagnosing disease faster has the potential to improve response times to potential outbreaks, in order to safeguard both animal and human health and protect the food chain.

Opened by Mairi Gougeon MSP, the Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, the SRUC Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory brings together new technology, robotics and human expertise to create a centre for excellence in animal disease surveillance and testing.

The SRUC Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory is based at the Moredun Research Institute at the Pentlands Science Park in Midlothian. The laboratory brings together SRUC’s diagnostic and analytical teams from around the Midlothian area – as well as Perthshire and the Borders – into a single centre for the first time.

The new laboratory creates a closer working relationship between SRUC and the Moredun Research Institute. It is at the centre of a strategic partnership between SRUC and Moredun to advance livestock health, welfare production, disease surveillance, and resilience through joint research.

The Scottish government has supported the creation of the new laboratory through a low-cost loan from the Scottish Funding Council’s Financial Transactions Programme.

Gougeon said: “The new SRUC central laboratory will enhance veterinary surveillance in Scotland and will create a centre of excellence at the Moredun Institute, further strengthening Scotland’s capacity and expertise in animal health.

The laboratory will help to protect and develop our valuable livestock sector and the contribution it makes to the rural economy. I look forward to seeing how this work progresses in the future.

Commenting on the new development, Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “Animal health is a cornerstone of a thriving rural economy and the new SRUC Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory offers a step-change in disease surveillance for the whole of the country.

"Working with the excellent team at the Moredun Institute, this centre of excellence offers us new opportunities for research and collaboration. Partnerships like ours are the future of rural technology research for Scotland.”