Pirbright’s Bryan Charleston receives the Selbourne Award from the Association for Veterinary Training and Research Work.

Pirbright Institute scientist Bryan Charleston has been presented with the Selbourne Award by the Association for Veterinary Teaching and Research Work.

Dr Bryan Charleston and Prof David Eckersall.Dr Charleston, who leads the livestock viral diseases programme at Pirbright, was recognised for his work on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) after spending the past  10 years researching immune responses of cattle and applying the knowledge gained to the development of improved disease control measures.

“It is a great honour to receive this award from the AVTRW – my first scientific presentation as a PhD student was at an AVTRW meeting in Scarborough,” he said.

“I hope the association continues to thrive and foster the development of veterinary researchers.”

During his time studying FMD Dr Charleston has led a series of transmission experiments in cattle that have demonstrated the window of transmission between animals is shorter than originally thought and is closely associated with the onset of clinical signs.

This discovery has important implications for the likely effectiveness of reactive disease control measures, such as culling, and suggests efforts should be focused on preclinical diagnosis and early clinical recognition for targeted control, rather than contiguous culling.

Studies on the pathogenesis and immune response to FMD infection and vaccination have also led to the discovery of a new site of virus persistence, with important implications for understanding why vaccines engender a much more transient protective response than is associated with recovery from infection.

Their research on the development of novel vaccines has led to Dr Charleston and his team recently hitting the headlines. By creating synthetic shells of virus particles (capsids), which do not require live virus in their production, a FMD vaccine can be produced safely outside of high containment.

Furthermore, these synthetic capsids have been stabilised to create a vaccine that does not require cold storage and has increased in vivo potency.

The Pirbright Institute’s director of science, David Paton, added: “It is extremely pleasing the UK’s leading society for veterinary researchers has recognised the significance of the ground-breaking work done by Bryan and his colleagues at Pirbright.

Control of FMD is a global public good that will help to secure livelihoods in developing countries as well as protecting the UK and other FMD-free countries from future disease.”

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