Med-Vet-Net, an FP6 Network of Excellence, draws the final curtain
Summary of the EU research project MED-VET-NET (call: FP6-2002-Food-1) in the framework of the FP6 programme
Med-Vet-Net has drawn the final curtain on five years of EC funding with the launch of its new achievements report entitled Building a European Community to Combat Zoonoses.
The report details Med-Vet-Net’s scientific achievements across the spectrum of its thematic disciplines from epidemiology and surveillance to risk research and disease control.
The Network, which concludes on 31 October having ushered in a new era of scientific collaboration and preparedness across Europe, uniquely brought together more than 300 multi-disciplinary scientists from 10 countries to undertake research on the zoonoses and food-borne diseases that threaten public health.
Through previously inconceivable collaborations between medical and veterinary scientists, food science researchers, microbiologists, epidemiologists and risk analysts, Med-Vet-Net established a critical, interconnected mass of scientific experts who are now readily available to EU authorities in the event of an outbreak emergency, such as egg-related salmonellosis, H1N1 (‘swine flu’) or Verocytotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC).
Med-Vet-Net Project Manager, Professor John Threlfall of the UK’s Health Protection Agency, said the fruits of the Network’s scientific collaborations could not be overstated.
“In the fight against disease it is critical that, as a European community, we can respond effectively, collectively and immediately,” Professor Threlfall said.
“Through Med-Vet-Net’s work we now have standardised tests and tools, harmonised laboratory procedures, common strain collections and repositories of reagents, and a common language across Europe to help us more quickly and accurately detect and control the most serious food-borne disease threats.”
A legacy of success
Med-Vet-Net’s 25 multi-partner scientific research projects yielded an unparalleled catalogue of results, many with significant and tangible benefits to the European Community, including:
- New tests for earlier and more accurate detection of Salmonella, Verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC), Q-fever, pig trichinellosis and food-borne virus diseases
- A real-time surveillance network of food-borne infections in Europe (PulseNet Europe)
- An online atlas comprising a series of maps showing the spread and incidence of the 10 most important types of Salmonella in Europe (‘Salmonella Atlas’)
- A new serological test that measures antibodies in blood serum as an indicator of past infection, offering a more accurate picture of disease incidence
- The first ever food-based detections in Europe of particular genes associated with resistance to beta-lactam-, aminoglycoside- and flouroquinolone antibiotics
- Identification of infection rates in different countries of food-borne disease in humans
- New methods of assessing risks to consumers and the impact of control measures, and
- Identification of the burden of infection of food-borne disease — the costs and impact to the community.
Staying together – the Med-Vet-Net Association
Med-Vet-Net’s most enduring legacy however, will be its continuing existence.
Launched in early October, the newly formed and self-funded Med-Vet-Net Association, comprising all 14 of the Network’s scientific partners, will build on the success of its predecessor, strengthening the existing partnerships and forging new collaborations both within Europe and around the world.
It is anticipated that the Association will continue to support ECDC and EFSA in their activities, and also develop new areas of collaboration including support in providing the scientific evidence for risk assessors, risk managers and policymakers. Like Med-Vet-Net, the new Association will also actively communicate and disseminate its research results and achievements through publications, scientific meetings, a website, news bulletins and networking.
At the helm of the Med-Vet-Net Association is newly elected President, Dr Valérie Baduel of the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) with the VLA’s Dr Roberto La Ragione as Vice-President. The Project Management team comprises Project Manager and Association Secretary, John Threlfall of the Health Protection Agency, and Treasurer Arnaud Callegari, also from AFSSA.
The Association has kicked off offering three levels of membership: Full members, who at present are the existing Med‑Vet-Net partner institutes; Associated members, comprising small to medium‑sized research groups in the field of zoonoses; and Acceded members, who will for the most part be industrial organizations and companies.
The Association’s priority will be to bring new research groups under its wing to ensure the fight against zoonoses in Europe maintains the collaborative momentum generated by Med-Vet-Net.
Dr Baduel, Association President, said continuing Med-Vet-Net’s success was the only way to ensure Europe stays in the fittest possible shape to tackle the scourge of zoonotic diseases.
“The new horizons are new diseases, which is why it is essential we maintain the momentum of Med-Vet-Net and continue to develop and remain a major focus for European activities targeting the prevention and control of zoonoses.”
Med-Vet-Net was initiated in September 2004 and funded for five years by the European Union (EU) 6th Framework Programme within the ‘Quality and Safety of Food’ Priority Area. The Network concludes on 31 October 2009. Med-Vet-Net brought together many of Europe’s most prominent research groups working on the detection and control of zoonoses. By adopting multi-disciplinary and multi-national approaches, Med-Vet-Net enabled knowledge throughout the food chain to be shared across regional, national and international borders.
For more information about the new Med-Vet-Net Association, or to download a copy of Med-Vet-Net’s showcase report, Building a European Community to Combat Zoonoses, please visit www.medvetnet.org.
Project acronym: MED-VET-NET
Project’s official full title: Network of prevention and control of zoonoses
Project coordinator:André Jestin, French Food Safety Agency
European Commission scientific officer: Jean-Charles Cavitte,
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