National Avian Research Facility
National Avian Research Facility

Specified Pathogen Free Facility

The NARF has a custom built facility that houses poultry under specified pathogen free (SPF) status.

Nine inbred and two closed outbred (Rhode Island Red and Light Sussex) chicken lines are housed within the SPF facility (containment level 2). These birds were relocated from the Pirbright Institute (IAH lines, Compton laboratories) in 2014. These SPF lines have been studied for their susceptibility and resistance to avian pathogens based on their known MHC haplotypes. 

SPF eggs and chicks generated from these lines can be supplied to researchers.

The NARF has recently developed resources in the SPF unit to generate transgenic chickens using surrogate host bird lines the DDX4 KO and the iCaspase9.


  • Suitable for the use of genetically modified organisms.
  • Facilities for gene editing.
  • SPF screening details can be found here.


Nat Bumstead laid the foundations and played a major influential role in establishing worldwide research on the genome of the chicken. He was a leading geneticist and accomplished researcher at the UK Institute for Animal Health and a pioneer who saw the tremendous importance of understanding links between genes, immunity and resistance to infectious diseases. He carried out some of the first research with chickens to derive genetic maps of the genes that strongly influence their resistance to pathogens such as Salmonella and Marek’s disease virus and resistance to infectious diseases. The inbred chicken lines that Dr Bumstead studied throughout his research career are now held in the SPF facility.