Institute of Immunology will continue its work on the Isle of Riems
Isle of Riems, 21 December 2011. At the end of this year, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (FLI) will close down its research facility in Tübingen. In the early 1950s, the Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals (BFAV) had been founded in Tübingen as the West German counterpart of the FLI on the Isle of Riems. The last institute located in Tübingen was the Institute of Immunology which will now continue its work at the FLI headquarters. “I started my scientific carreer at the BFAV in Tübingen. Therefore, it is not easy for me to give up the research site.”, says Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Thomas C. Mettenleiter, President of the FLI. “However it is the right decision to concentrate our virus research at the historic site”. After the close-down of the facility in Tübingen, the FLI will still consist of 11 institutes at now 6 sites.
The relocation of the Tübingen working groups to the new research facilities on the Isle of Riems already started in June. The last staff member to move from Tübingen to the Isle of Riems will be the head of the Institute of Immunology, Prof. Dr. Lothar Stitz. „The close-down of this old-established site marks a sharp break, but also a new beginning on the Baltic coast.“
Tübingen had been chosen as domicile of the BFAV due to the presence of the Max-Planck-Institute (MPI) for Virus Research. A former FLI scientist, Erich Traub, was responsible for the establishment of the new institute. During the first years, the BFAV mainly dealt with practice-oriented questions related to diagnostics and epidemiology. The institute contributed considerably to research on the structure of the foot-and-mouth disease virus and on the structures responsible for immune response as well as to the improvement of vaccination and diagnostics. Research work on the epidemiology and diagnostics of enzootic bovine leukosis layed the basis for the eradication of this animal disease. The rabies live vaccine developed in Tübingen was essential for the successful control of fox rabies in Germany.
As the MPI had already shifted its focus to other research fields during the 1980s, the German Council of Science recommended after the fall of the wall to expand the facilities of the FLI on the Isle of Riems as headquarters for research on virus infections of farm animals. On January 1, 1992 the FLI was therefore re-founded as part of the BFAV. Over the past 15 years, various working groups from Tübingen gradually moved to the Isle of Riems. In 2004, the BFAV was renamed Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health. According to the research concept of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV), to which the FLI belongs, it is planned to concentrate the FLI institutes at three sites until the end of the decade. Until the end of 2013, it is foreseen to relocate the Institute of Epidemiology from Wusterhausen in Brandenburg to the headquarters on the Isle of Riems. In addition, it is planned to consolidate the Institutes of Farm Animal Genetics (Mariensee close to Neustadt a. Rbge.), of Animal Nutrition (Braunschweig) and of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry (Celle) in Mariensee. Two institutes will remain at the FLI site in Jena.
Dipl.-Biol. Elke Reinking (Press Officer)
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