New diseases and strains of pathogens with the potential to harm humans and livestock or crops are continually emerging, both nationally and internationally.
Bioterrorism is also a recognised threat. This makes it a priority to maintain a strong capacity to anticipate, diagnose and respond to the threats imposed by infectious diseases.
Co-ordination is a challenge. The almost 60 agencies and institutions involved in biosecurity research (across nine jurisdictions) need to be able to collaborate and coordinate rapidly as and when the need arises.
Under the capability Networked Biosecurity Framework, the Australian Government has provided $8.5 million for the construction of the AAHL Collaborative Biosecurity Research Facility for pathogen containment at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) run by CSIRO in Victoria. The funding will provide for the development of up to 2000 square metres of high biocontainment laboratory space for use by researchers within both human and animal sectors. Access to this world-class facility is open to external researchers.
Investments through NCRIS will enable CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory to operate as a truly National Facility. It will encourage scientists throughout Australia to utilise this world leading Laboratory, meeting the research community’s need for high containment facilities to undertake research on a range of pathogens that affect both animals and people. There is an urgent need to move forward with a collaborative “One Health” approach, as around 70 per cent of emerging diseases of humans have originated in animals – so-called zoonotic viruses, such as Hendra virus, avian influenza and SARS.
The additional high containment PC3 and PC4 laboratory space will provide the necessary bio-secure and bio-safe infrastructure required for such work and will create an environment in Australia to effectively tackle the researchable issues in this vital area.
Working closely with ABIN will provide access to a wide range of biosecurity information, tools and expertise providing a national collaborative approach through which we can come together and share knowledge with other researchers, producers, industry groups and policy makers.
Dr Martyn Jeggo, Director, Australian Animal Health Laboratory
Funding of $15.115 million has been provided under NCRIS for investment in an Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network (ABIN).
The ABIN Board of Management provides leadership and makes decisions regarding options for use of the NCRIS funding. It is envisaged that ABIN will enhance connectivity across the whole continuum of biosecurity from research to operational and surveillance activities. Interactions will be facilitated across the sectors of human, animal, wildlife, plant and aquatic animal health from all jurisdictions.
For enquiries about the Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network, please contact:
Dr Joanne Banyer
Australian Biosecurity Intelligence Network
For matters related to management of the NCRIS program, please contact the NCRIS Team by email or by telephone on 02 6276 1998.
For further information about the AAHL Collaborative Biosecurity Research Facility, please visit www.csiro.au/services/acbrf.html