The Princess Royal and Bryan Charleston unveil the commemorative sign.

The Princess Royal has officially opened a world-leading vaccine development facility at The Pirbright Institute in Surrey.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Centre (BBSRC) National Vaccinology Centre: The Jenner Building accommodates 100 scientists working on cutting-edge research to generate vaccines for a variety of livestock diseases, including those that can spread to humans.

The Princess Royal is shown the candling technique by Erica Bickerton and Billy Matthews.

Scientists at the facility mainly focus on poultry diseases, such as bird flu and Marek’s disease, but they also develop vaccines for viruses such as African horse sickness virus.

Strategic capital investment

Construction of the centre cost £24 million, which is part of a £350 million strategic capital investment from the Government as part of its continued commitment to support the UK’s world-leading position in bioscience through development at the Pirbright campus.

Breakthroughs at Pirbright include using new technologies that facilitate the development of a new generation of genetically modified vaccines. These are quicker and cheaper to produce and, crucially, are capable of protecting against a variety of diseases – paving the way for universal vaccines against several different strains of virus, such as bird flu.

World leader

Pirbright is a world leader in the development of vaccines and diagnostics, and provides a national surveillance and response capability to the UK for a range of high consequence livestock virus diseases and those that spread from animals to humans.

It is also home to the World Reference Laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease and the UK/EU reference laboratory for bluetongue disease.

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