Facility to boost research into animal and human health
A world-leading research facility that will provide unprecedented insights into livestock and human health has opened.
The University of Edinburgh’s Large Animal Research Imaging Facility (LARIF) was officially opened by Professor John Loughhead CB OBE, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
The LARIF will enhance food security through research aimed at producing livestock that are genetically more resistant to disease, and the development of improved vaccines for animals.
Research conducted at the facility will safeguard human health by helping to tackle food-borne infections and developing strategies against antimicrobial resistance. It will also advance efforts to develop treatments for diseases that affect people, such as neurological conditions.
Development of this purpose-built facility is supported by a £25 million investment from the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), which includes £10.6 million of funding from Innovate UK.
The LARIF houses unparalleled imaging, surgical, gene-editing and infection containment facilities, offering exceptional specialist capability for in-depth studies into the health and wellbeing of all major farmed livestock.
Also housed at the LARIF is the Wellcome Trust-funded Critical Care Laboratory for Large Animals, which supports the study of large animal biology with all the resources of a human hospital.
Highly skilled vets, who are European and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons-recognised specialists in veterinary anaesthesia, provide round-the-clock care for animals involved in studies carried out in the facility.
There is also advanced medical imaging equipment on site, enabling detailed studies into degenerative and neurological diseases, body composition and the anatomy and physiology of large animals.
Understanding human disease
In addition to research to understand livestock diseases, research at the LARIF will also investigate human conditions.
This means that treatments developed using large animals are more likely to be successful in people than those tested on cell cultures or using mice and rats, helping to reduce the number of animals used overall.
This new facility is based at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies' Easter Bush Campus, alongside prestigious research centres including the Roslin Institute and the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre. Collectively, the Campus represents the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe.
The LARIF is a unique and world-leading facility that significantly enhances our ability to study human and animal health. Taking this multidisciplinary approach is a key focus for the University and can lead to significant advances in medicine, veterinary medicine and agricultural science.
“Agricultural technologies are a sometimes unrecognised but important component in supporting the agriculture industry to cut its emissions and develop sustainable farming practices - helping to meet the Government’s ambitions to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The LARIF illustrates the positive effects of successful collaboration between academia, industry and the Government in spreading knowledge and expertise while developing the technologies of the future.”
Innovate UK has a strong track record of supporting the UK’s agriculture sector. The four Agri-Tech Centres that we have funded across the UK are crucial to our mission to boost this vital sector of our economy. The world-leading LARIF facility which we are inaugurating today will help the UK remain at the cutting edge of innovation in agriculture.
Our partnership in the LARIF brings a new dimension of expertise to CIEL’s extensive network of livestock research capability. It’s an exciting opportunity for industry to capitalise on the extraordinary work undertaken by the University of Edinburgh to deliver on the ‘One Health’ agenda.