11 July 2014 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the coordinator of LinkTADs, a 1 million euro research consortium funded by the European Union (EU) to link research between Europe and China on the prevention and control of transboundary animal diseases (TADs). LinkTADs aims to: (i) coordinate research across borders; (ii) aid in finding common research goals; (iii) guide partners along the process; and (iv) create sustainable and simple mechanisms to preserve collaborations in the future.
A 36-month Work Plan has been designed featuring eight Work Packages (WPs), which will ensure that EU and Chinese scientists benefit from shared knowledge, skills and equipment, optimising the use of research resources. Since LinkTADs' official start in November 2013, the consortium can already count some major achievements.
To ensure the management and coordination of LinkTADs and the smooth running of activities throughout the project's lifetime, and in collaboration with Europa Media Non-profit Ltd. (EM), FAO developed a quality assurance process for all deliverables, from preparation to submission. EM also developed a "Project Toolbox" (with guidelines and templates to ease the administrative burden of the participants), the partner area on the LinkTADs website (where all documents and results are archived), and a gender strategy.
The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CADC) conducted a prioritization exercise based on literature reviews of emerging animal health, food safety and food security issues in EU and China. Different levels of importance were attributed to animal diseases in the EU and China according to the number of publications, highlighting common diseases of interest and potential opportunities for collaboration between the two regions.
In addition, RVC led a survey to map the available resources and infrastructure on animal health research in order to establish the gaps and potential synergies between the EU and China. Different problems were identified by both parties, i.e. researchers in the EU saw access to funding as an issue, while those in China felt there is a lack of access to well-managed databases on animal health and to personnel trained in epidemiology.
In April 2014, the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute (SHVRI) organized a meeting with a double purpose: firstly to examine the transmission dynamics of avian influenza, and secondly to discuss how to establish a network of control of TADs and zoonoses, including which topics to cover and which participants to invite. The meeting was attended by circa 100 participants from 35 research institutes in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Finally, in order to raise awareness about the project among defined groups, FAO and the Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (SPI) jointly developed a plan for dissemination. Dissemination materials (i.e. templates, brochures and posters) were developed by SPI in English and Chinese to facilitate communication activities, while EM developed the project logo and launched the bilingual Chinese-English public website.
For further information on LinkTADs' activities, meetings and related news, please go to the website, which is regularly updated.