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New science strategy and restructuring announced at IAH

19 January 2005

Management at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) has today outlined to staff the IAH's new Science Strategy and the associated restructuring of the science programme and organisational structures needed both to deliver the strategy and to enable the Institute to return to financial sustainability.

The Council of the BBSRC (the sponsoring body of IAH) approved in principle the new scientific strategy at its meeting in December 2004. The BBSRC has been working closely with the Institute’s Governing Body and the senior management at IAH to define and implement a recovery plan, since the seriousness of the Institute’s immediate financial situation became clear towards the end of last year.

It is estimated that around 25 a scientific postholders' jobs will be lost as a result of the restructuring, although every effort is being made to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies through redeployment and voluntary redundancies. This figure would be more than doubled had the IAH not had a significant number of vacancies which may be filled by redeployment.

BBSRC is confident that strategic scientific priorities and national policy needs in animal health research have dictated how IAH has responded to its current financial crisis. The new scientific strategy is designed to provide generic research capability to address very fundamental scientific questions, for example, about the function of animals' immune systems and the biology of viruses. It also facilitates provision of a critical mass of expertise in important diseases, including the BSE-family of diseases and others that can spread from livestock to humans, and exotic diseases that threaten UK livestock as a result of climate change and the breakdown of trade barriers.

Over the coming months the Institute will identify further post losses in areas of technical/service support and administration, based on the new science strategy and taking into account the response to calls for voluntary redundancy. It is too early to identify the nature of these post losses: there is no simple read-across from today's announcement. These post losses are expected to total around 40 but it is too early to estimate what this means for job losses of current employees, because the call for voluntary redundancies is not yet closed.

Of the research areas being cut, some that address specific practical problems in the livestock sector, for example in dairy cattle mastitis, are expected to be taken forward through industrially-funded projects. In other areas, for example, avian poxviruses, where the research has led from livestock to potential human applications, research is being taken forward by other research groups in universities.

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External Relations Unit