25 November 2016 - Launched in October 2013, the LinkTADs research consortium funded under the European Commission (EC) Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) ended on 31 October 2016. LinkTADs was all about increasing and improving the coordination in terms of animal health research (both epidemiology and laboratory aspects) between the EU and China. To do so, the project started by creating as many opportunities as possible for researchers to meet face-to-face, mostly via workshops, but also through short visits and exchanges. These face-to-face meetings planted the seeds for new collaborations. At this stage, mechanisms were created to establish sustainable collaborations, such as joint laboratories, workshops dedicated to the write-up project concept notes, joint project submissions, etc. These days we start to see the fruits from these efforts, with funded project proposals, published peer-reviewed scientific papers , and collaboration agreements signed by partners. Below are summarized the major achievements reached by LinkTADs during its three years of life:
Animal health priorities and gaps identified, namely African swine fever (ASF), antimicrobial resistance (AMR), avian influenza, bovine tuberculosis (bTB), classical swine fever (CSF), japanese encephalitis (JE), peste des petits ruminants (PPR), porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS),
11 technical workshops organized - The wide variety of topics of the workshops were chosen in alignment with the priorities and gaps identified at the beginning of the project. Covering epidemiology, laboratory and policy aspects, internationally renowned experts were invited to present and participate along with LinkTADs partners. This provided excellent opportunities to learn more about the research being conducted at different institutions, identify common interests and start exploring face-to-face potential pathways and topics of collaborations.
6 short academic visits and 3 exchange programs organized – LinkTADs set aside some funds for LikTADs partners to visit each other, thus having the time to visit each other laboratories and facilities, learn about the activities and research lines, meet all researchers at the recipient institution (not just those directly involved in LinkTADs) and sit together and discuss the best way to collaborate.
7 webinars broadcasted - Also based on the interests of partners, a series of webinars were organized covering mostly specific diseases or policy aspects. This modern tool was seen as very useful way to deliver talks by experts allowing a wide participation of stakeholders in EU/China, especially those who cannot physically participate in the project workshops. Moreover, the webinar recordings and presentations were made available online afterwards.
5 trainings delivered - The training component of LinkTADs was closely aligned with the China Field Epidemiology Training Program for Veterinarians (China FETPV), an interdisciplinary (One Health) approach that has been highly successful in building up field epidemiology capacity in a highly interactive and sustainable way. In addition, LinkTADs partners were sponsored to participate in specific sessions at the InterRisk Master, and a one-month on-line course on foot-and-mouth diseases was exclusively delivered by the European Commission for the control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) to 40 Chinese veterinarians in different institutions.
Successful twinning with 7 other EC-funded consortia – During its lifetime, LinkTADs has actively interacted with seven other EU-funded consortia: STAR-IDAZ, ASFORCE, RISKSUR, EFFORT, RAPIDIA, DRAGON-STAR and COMPARE. Such collaborations have been mostly through the joint organization of events, as well as inviting experts from the other consortia to attend LinkTADs workshops.
Web-based platform successfully developed and updated – We would highly encouraged all those interested in research in China and the EU to visit our website and 1) consult database of over 100 funding programmes for international researchers focusing on EU-China research collaboration; 2) check the collection of EU-China policy and strategy documents in animal health research collaboration; 3) access the Focal Point Network of epidemiology and laboratory research experts in the EU and China; 4) download workshop reports, recorded webinars, past newsletters and training materials; and 5) search on our partner database.
Continuous dissemination through all media - All along the project, we have made use of all major social media to reach researchers, i.e. facebook, (113 likes), LinkedIn page (1250 connections and 193 group members), Twitter (469 followers, >1697 tweets), weibo (>95 posts, 46 followers). In addition, we have published 4 newsletters, and have organized 5 dissemination events jointly with major scientific conferences.
As a result of all the above efforts, LinkTADs has built links with 40 external research partners. Of these, many have developed into the establishment of collaborations. Four of these collaborations have led to the establishment of joint laboratories, as well as the submission of 5 joint applications (one already approved on JE). These joint applications will surely continue to grow even once LinkTADs is over. The same applies to joint peer-reviewed publications that are being submitted (3), accepted (1) or already published (5).
The focal point network will be maintained after the project’s end, as well as the tools and documents accessible through LinkTAds website, which will continue to be active for the next three years.