Epizootic Disease Diagnosis and Control (EPIZONE)

Launch of European Research Network
June 8, 2006

On June 13, 2006, the EU-funded research project EPIZONE will be launched at the Centre Albert Borschette, in Brussels. EPIZONE is a Network of Excellence supported by the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme with a total EU contribution of €14 million.

EPIZONE aims at improving research on preparedness, prevention, detection and control of epizootic diseases within Europe to reduce the economic and social impact of future outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, avian influenza, classical swine fever and other relevant epizootic diseases such as bluetongue and African swine fever. EPIZONE will develop a organisational structure based on a “Virtual Institute”.

It will ensure common access to resources such as collections of clinical materials and strains, expertise, high-containment facilities, animal facilities and specialised equipment. It will establish a structured training including practical courses and “distant learning” and opportunities for mobility of scientists. It will also create “experts” teams for acute needs. EPIZONE will establish links with other groups and networks outside the EU.

EPIZONE brings together 18 institutions involved in research into these diseases, 15 from the European Union, 2 from China, 1 from Turkey together with relevant international organisations and an SME. 250 key scientists and many young scientists are initially involved. The jointly executed research programme is encompassing research into four themes:

Intervention Strategies,
Surveillance and Epidemiology and
Risk Assessment.

Epizootic diseases in agriculture and aquaculture animals constitute major risks for the food production and in some cases risks for public health. Such diseases spread very fast through animals, vectors or animal products. Outbreaks in Europe of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK, avian influenza in Italy and Netherlands as well as the current influenza crisis worldwide have shown enormous social and economic impact, and need to be addressed across the whole production chain and also at international level. The objective of EPIZONE is to improve research on preparedness, prevention, detection, and control of epizootics by improvement of excellence through collaboration. EPIZONE will be developed for integration of scientists in animal health, at the European level.

EPIZONE will generate a worldwide network of institutes contributing to available expertise and spreading of excellence. EPIZONE includes the Food and Agriculture Organization (FA=) of the United Nations. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) will be a member of the Advisory Board. Organisational work packages will develop integration activities, including communications, meetings, and training/continuous professional development. Scientific work packages will undertake jointly executed research on epizootics selected on importance in Europe and the rest of the world and cover 4 thematic areas: Diagnostics, Intervention Strategies, Surveillance and Epidemiology, and Risk Assessment. Given the network structure, the technical resources and the scientific excellence, EPIZONE will assure strategically driven state-of-art research.

For the thematic priority on “Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food Research”” in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) see also:

Conference programme ( Tuesday, June 13, 2006)

9.15 - 9.30 presentation DG Research (its view and expectation from EPIZONE
Dr Christian Patermann, Director biotechnology, agriculture and food research, European Commission

9.30 - 10.15 presentation coordinator (philosophy and objectives of EPIZONE, both integrative and scientific)
Dr Piet Van Rijn, Centraal Instituut voor Dierziekte Controle CIDC Lelystad, Netherlands


Coffee break

11.00 – 11:45 “A challenge and opportunity for veterinary research in the EU”
Dr Ilaria Capua , OIE/FAO Reference Laboratory for Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Italy