New £25m livestock research facility opens in Edinburgh

The research facility will provide unprecedented insights into livestock and human health
The research facility will provide unprecedented insights into livestock and human health

A new £25 million facility that aims to enhance both food security and the health and welfare of livestock has opened in Edinburgh.

The Large Animal Research and Imaging Facility will research ways to produce livestock that are genetically more resistant to disease.

The new centre, operated by the University of Edinburgh, will also research and develop improved vaccines for farmed animals.

Scientists there will additionally safeguard human health by helping to tackle food-borne infections and developing strategies against antimicrobial resistance.

The LARIF houses a combination of imaging, surgical, gene-editing and infection containment facilities, offering capability for studies into the health of livestock.

Also housed at the LARIF is the Critical Care Laboratory for Large Animals, which supports the study of large animal biology with all the resources of a human hospital.

Advanced medical imaging equipment on site, including CT, MRI, fluoroscopy and ultrasound, enables detailed understanding of anatomy and body composition in livestock.

The laboratory will also monitor progression of disease processes in different organs, and their response to treatment.

LARIF was officially opened by Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

He said agricultural technologies are an important component in supporting the industry to cut emissions and develop sustainable farming practices.

“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,” he added.

Studies at the LARIF will also investigate human conditions. Large animal species are valuable biomedical models for studying human diseases and developing new medical technologies.

It comes as the brand new School of Veterinary Science, led by Aberystwyth University, was launched last month.

The agricultural facility was welcomed by Welsh farmers as a 'significant step forward' in boosting the livestock sector.