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Last update: May 2021

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NA2 - Virtual college for improvement of animal infectious disease studies

Rabbit EOPS
© Inra, Dominique Licois
The objectives of NA2 are: training of project-internal and external scientists and technicians in various aspects of animal experimentation, including biosafety aspects, ethics and best practices, harmonisation and standardization of procedures, coordination of animal studies for validation and standardization studies performed under this project and facilitate ethical reflection and knowledge exchange on ethical, social and legal issues.


Within Europe there are various sites where animal infectious diseases are studied. The focus of these facilities varies from highly specialized, e.g. the fish facilities of VESO and high containment facilities for animal

diseases, to more general facilities. Working with animals in specific conditions,especially BL3 containment conditionsrepresents a practical compromise between the normal behavior of the animal and its welfare and

the need to contain the infectious agent that is being studied.

The members of the consortium represent the majority, if not all, of farm animal BL3 facilities across Europe. There is a large variation in the designs of these buildings, and also the work undertaken in them varies in detail. The comprehensive know-how held by the members of the consortium provides the capability for developing the competences of other members of the consortium and new users, and for transfer of technology.

Development of new technologies for diagnostics of infectious animal diseases and collection of material for validation and standardization require well-defined studies, including experimental animal studies.

Coordination and standardization of such studies by the consortium will optimize the output and increase scientific knowledge while minimizing the use of animals. In addition the consortium will develop new practices

and protocols and exchange existing ones between the members of the consortium, which will contribute to the best comparable approach of animal studies in the different countries.

Other complex issues are biosafety, biosecurity and animal welfare. Working with animals in BL3/BL3+ containment facilities makes heavy demands on the knowledge of bio-security, experimental models of infectious diseases, and the impact on animal welfare caused by these diseases. Animal welfare is of great concern to the public as well as for animal disease researchers. Although implementation of animal experiments is regulated by national legislation, the conditions for carrying out experiments vary considerably from country to country. Therefore, the consortium will joint efforts to improve the standardization of the conditions for animal experiments.


For the improvement of animal infectious studies in Europe, NA2 will focus on:

  • Best practices and procedure exchange
  • Biosecurity regulations
  • Standardization of diagnostics and validation
  • Coordination of experimental animal studies required for novel technologies
  • Animal welfare and ethical engagement
  • Legal and social aspects analysis
  • Training and professional development of internal and external researchers, PhD students, and technicians
  • Together, this network of facilities and activities will provide a virtual animal disease research facility where
  • practical approaches to animal disease questions, procedures and protocols and animal welfare issues in experimental settings become highly comparable.

NA2 Leader

  • University of Nottingham

Involved partners

  • All the partners