photo of cattle huddled together

Sydney team awarded $1m industry grant for new cattle vaccine

6 June 2019
All-female team wins funds to fight bovine respiratory disease
A team of scientists at the University of Sydney have been awarded a $1 million grant by Meat and Livestock Australia to fund new vaccine development for feedlot cattle.
All-female team: Auriol Purdie, Hannah Pooley (postdoctural researcher), Karren Plain and Kumudika de Silva (left to right).

All-female team: Auriol Purdie, Hannah Pooley (postdoctural researcher on the project), Karren Plain and Kumudika de Silva (left to right).


Dr Kumudika de Silva, Dr Karren Plain and Dr Auriol Purdie from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science have been awarded a Meat and Live Stock Australia grant worth $1,084,942 for the research of alternatives to antimicrobials to keep livestock animals healthy.

“It’s wonderful to have our expertise acknowledged by industry in this way. Industry grants are very competitive, so we are very excited to have been awarded a grant of this magnitude,” said Senior Research Fellow and project lead, Dr Kumudika de Silva.

Bovine respiratory disease

Funded in consultation with the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, the project seeks to develop a novel vaccine to prevent against bovine respiratory disease - the most common cause of illness and death in Australian feedlot cattle.

“This grant will support research in both the development of a new vaccine and its potential application to a major disease that affects cattle and leads to reduced welfare and performance,” said Senior Research Fellow, Dr Karren Plain.

Cattle vaccine

Most vaccinations for livestock animals are currently given by injection, posing several challenges for feedlots, such as the need for refrigeration and the labour-intensive task of injecting each animal.

“We are hoping to develop a vaccine with properties that make it cheaper and easier to make, store and give to animals than most current vaccines,” said Dr de Silva. “First, we need to understand how these animals will respond to a new vaccination method, but there is real potential for it to be used for many diseases that are important to the livestock industry.”

Working with industry on this project allows a two-way conversation in terms of the science and its application, said Dr Plain.

“We want to be able to make a difference to the health of animals in livestock production systems and also to assist producers in their efforts. It is a win-win.”

All-female diverse team

Dr de Silva said the team comes from diverse scientific backgrounds, which allows it to approach the research with a holistic view.

“It’s an all-female team, but our multicultural diversity and breadth of research experiences adds another dimension to the way we tackle research questions.”


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