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A welcome move to fight animal diseases with veterinary research

26 July 2002

In welcoming the joint announcements made this week by DEFRA and the Wellcome Trust for additional funding to boost UK disease defences, RCVS President Stephen Ware, emphasised the need to tackle disease problems where they arise. He said, “It is essential to get to the root of the problem and the new funding by the Wellcome Trust into disease control in developing countries is one step forward.  Disease control is not only effective at UK borders, but it is critical that work is carried out in developing countries, where many animal diseases are still rampant, to assist their people in achieving and maintaining healthy livestock.  The UK veterinary profession has had a long history of cooperating with these countries in terms of conveying expertise and passing on critical skills and knowledge on animal care and management to local people.  This is a great opportunity to build on those foundations.”

The additional funding announced by DEFRA to boost veterinary training and research in universities offers great opportunities and enormous challenges for the six UK veterinary schools.  “This funding is essential for the development of centres of excellence in the UK veterinary schools.  For too long veterinary research has been fragmented and under-funded,” said Stephen Ware.  Welcome though this is, the RCVS questions whether this will fully address the serious funding gap in clinical training in production animal medicine and public health. It is noteworthy that the medical schools receive an additional £40,000 per student for clinical training from the Department of Health.

The new DEFRA initiative builds on the RCVS report on the future of veterinary research (The Selborne Report) which called for a coordinated approach to veterinary research.  He stated further, “As advisors to this Alliance, we look forward to the benefits which will derive from this initiative – benefits not simply for the profession but more importantly for the animal owning public and the nation as a whole.”



  • The DEFRA press release entitled “New Partnership with Wellcome Trust will boost Britain’s Veterinary Defences” can be found at and the Wellcome Trust press release entitled “Animal Health tops the bill” can be downloaded from

  • The Alliance includes DEFRA, the Wellcome Trust, the Biological and Biotechnology Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Higher Education Funders Council for England (HEFCE), with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in an advisory capacity. 

  • The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) was founded in 1844 by Royal Charter as the governing body for the veterinary profession in the United Kingdom. The statutory responsibilities of the RCVS are set out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

  • The RCVS' Charter and legislation safeguard the interests of the public and animals by providing that only those registered with the RCVS can carry out acts of veterinary surgery. It is illegal with a few minor exceptions, for anyone not included in the RCVS Registers to practise veterinary medicine and surgery in the UK.

  • Over 21,000 veterinary surgeons are currently registered with the RCVS.

  • The "Report of the Committee of Enquiry into Veterinary Research" (The Selborne Report) was published in November 1997. The Committee was set up "in the light of concerns about the future development of veterinary research in the UK and its view that an overall long term strategy for veterinary science and research is needed in order to ensure the best use of resources and identify any areas where greater depth and breadth of research may be required". Its recommendations mainly centred around the need for strong veterinary research and for all bodies involved to co-ordinate their efforts more effectively to raise the profile and improve the funding of veterinary research. To date disappointingly little has been achieved.

  • For further information about the RCVS, visit our website at
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