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EU-funded TSE research in Europe

last update: 06/06/06

Newsflash! 

  • The UK Government department Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has published its research requirements in Animal Health and Welfare for work starting in April 2007. Details can be found online at http://www.defra.gov.uk/science/funding/competitions.htm. Requirements 8-12 are TSE requirements.


Introduction, 1990-1996

Action Plan on TSEs and Fourth Framework Programme, 1994-1998

Fifth Framework Programme, 1998-2002

Specific Call for TSE Research and the Inventories of TSE Research Activities in Europe, 2001

The Sixth Framework Programme and Future Actions, 2002-2006

The purpose of this website

Introduction, 1990-1996

The European Commission has sponsored research into Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) since 1990. This research effort was rapidly and substantially increased following the announcement by the UK Government (20/03/1996) that the appearance of 10 cases of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) could be linked to exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE).

Action Plan on TSEs and Fourth Framework Programme, 1994-1998

In April 1996, the Commission invited Professor Charles Weissmann to Chair a group with the objectives of producing an inventory of the state of knowledge on BSE, and proposing future research priorities. Professor Weissmann’s report was published in October 1996 and formed the basis of a communication from the Commission to the Council (COM (96) 582) proposing an Action Plan on TSEs. The Action Plan also took into account the recommendations of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee as well as ongoing national and Community research activities. Based on the Council recommendations, the action plan comprised two levels:

  • The co-ordination of activities between Member States, aimed at harmonization of data collection and diagnostic criteria

  • A specific call for RTD actions, intended to stimulate research efforts at a Community level and to mobilise new and complementary expertise in order to attain European critical mass in the area.

The first of three calls for research proposals under this initiative was made in December 1996, the last in March 1998. A total of 54 projects were commissioned under this Action Plan, with support totalling €50.7m. This support derived from the BIOMED, BIOTECH and FAIR programmes. The Action Plan resulted in an excellent mobilisation of expertise in a wide range of scientific disciplines, from more than 120 laboratories throughout the Member States and associated countries.

The Fifth Framework Programme, 1998-2002

The Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002) builds on the foundations of the Fourth FP, and has seen 26 TSE projects (~€30m) supported both from general calls for research projects (11), as well as from 2001’s specific call for TSE research (15).

Specific Call for TSE Research and the Inventories of TSE Research Activities in Europe, 2001

In November 2000, the Research Council requested the Commission to establish a TSE Expert Group with a mandate to:

  • examine the state of TSE research;

  • encourage the exchange of scientific information between research teams;

  • identify ongoing research activities which need to be strengthened, as well as new research activities which need to be launched.

The Group is composed of representatives nominated from the Member States, Associated Countries, some members of the TSE/BSE ad hoc group of the Scientific Steering Committee and some co-ordinators of EU research projects. In April 2002 it was expanded to include members from Central and Eastern European States.

Included in the aims of the Action Plan was the objective to expand and regularly update the inventory of TSE research activities in Member States, originally drafted by Professor Weismann. An analysis of the most recent version of this document (April 2001) by the TSE Expert Group and the Commission Services resulted in the launch of a specific call for TSE proposals, intended to fill the gaps in the European TSE research effort, and a communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament (COM (2001) 323). A total of 15 new TSE projects were commissioned from this call with support totalling €21m, all of which, subject to the successful conclusion of contract negotiation, will commence in 2002.

The Sixth Framework Programme and Future Actions, 2002-2006

2002 also sees the launch of the Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The most up to date details of this can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/research/fp6/p5/

In September 2000, a catalogue of the 54 projects funded under the Action Plan was produced, and remains available from the Commission's Research DG (see list of contacts); this is currently being updated to include results and outcomes from these projects and abstracts of more recently funded projects.

The purpose of this web site is fourfold and lists:

  1. EU-funded TSE research projects, both completed and ongoing. This includes all the research projects from the programmes above, as well as research projects of relevance from other programmes and relevant non-research projects from all programmes;
  2. key documents on TSE research released by the European Commission;
  3. the members of staff in the Research DG's TSE group;
  4. useful links to other web sites containing information on TSEs.

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