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Foot-and-mouth scientist receives international award

21 May 2012

Yesterday (Sunday 20 May 2012) Dr Nigel Ferris MBE was presented with the 2012 OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Meritorious Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions during a long career researching foot-and-mouth (FMD) and other diseases.

L to R Dr Bernard Vallat Director General of OIE, Dr Nigel Ferris MBE, Dr Carlos Correa Messuti President of the OIE IMG. Credit: IAH
Left to right: Dr Bernard Vallat Director General of OIE, Dr Nigel Ferris MBE, Dr Carlos Correa Messuti President of the OIE IMG. Credit: IAH

Dr Ferris received the award in Paris during the 80th General Session of the OIE World Assembly of Delegates, which brings together representatives from the 178 member countries of the Organisation.

Dr Ferris said "FMD continues to be a serious problem in many countries and there is still work to be done. I'm grateful to the OIE for choosing me to receive this award and hope that my work provides a solid foundation for whatever comes next in the world of FMD diagnostics."

Working at the Institute for Animal Health for nearly 40 years until his retirement earlier this year, Dr Ferris has been party to many of the critical developments in FMD diagnostics research. This includes development of a range of methods to confirm the diagnosis of FMD in the lab; and, more recently, development of lateral flow devices for the penside detection of FMD - an important development for the swift diagnosis of an outbreak in the field.

Rapid on-farm test for FMDV. Copyright: IAH
Rapid on-farm test for FMDV. Copyright: IAH

Through training of fellow scientists and supplying reagents and test kits that have been front line tools over the last 30 years, Dr Ferris transferred these technologies worldwide.

Dr Ferris was personally responsible for the tests that confirmed many important outbreaks of FMD worldwide, including the UK FMD outbreaks in 2001 and 2007. During the 2001 epidemic he led a team that analysed around 15,000 samples for the presence of FMD virus.

Institute Director, Professor John Fazakerley said "Nigel's contribution to his chosen field and to the success of the Institute through the course of his career here has been truly extraordinary. This acknowledgement from the OIE only serves to confirm what we already know - Nigel has left us with a legacy of world-class research and diagnostics development, which is a key foundation stone for our Institute."


About the Institute for Animal Health

The Institute for Animal Health, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is a world-leading centre of excellence for research into viruses of farm animals, principally cattle, poultry, sheep and pigs, plus horses, and viruses which spread from animals to humans. Our research extends from fundamental to applied research, from genes all the way through to animal populations. It is our belief that better control of viral diseases requires a greater understanding of how each virus causes disease, how the immune systems of the farm animals respond to infection, and how the viruses spread, including those distributed by insects and other arthropods. In this way we contribute to the development of smarter, more effective vaccines; develop more discriminatory, user-friendly diagnostics; provide diagnostic services; and give expert knowledge to guide policy makers and farmers.

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