Our mission is to be a critical resource for funders of animal health research including the European Commission, member states, foundations, trusts along with private industry to prioritise research.
The public and private sector in the EU together spend around € 1 billion per year on animal health and welfare related research. By identifying the gaps in knowledge and available control tools, we help to prioritise research and speed up the development of new diagnostics, vaccines and pharmaceuticals to reduce the burden of animal diseases.
We deliver on our mission by:
· Providing an open-access database with research gaps to improve infectious disease control in animals
· Supporting the development of strategic research agendas by public and industry bodies
· Communicating on the identified research gaps to animal health research decision makers, researchers, industry and students
Overall, this improves animal health and welfare and provides benefits in terms of public health and a safe and secure food supply.
DISCONTOOLS is funded by national funders of research from a range of countries with industry providing secretariat support.
DISCONTOOLS began as an FP 7 EU project involving a wide range of stakeholders including the research community, regulators, international organisations, chief veterinary officers (CVOs), veterinarians & farmers. The aim was to provide a mechanism for focusing and prioritising research that ultimately delivered new and improved vaccines, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic tests. The project delivered part of the Action Plan of the European Technology Platform for Global Animal Health (ETPGAH) in terms of a disease database, a gap analysis and a prioritisation exercise.
The project started on the 1st of March 2008 and ended in February 2013. After wide stakeholder agreement that the project needed to be continued the project was re-launched in June 2014 with the financial support of a range of national funders in the EU, with industry providing secretariat support. The aim is to keep the information in the database up-to-date, with regular re-evaluation and updates of the specific disease information.
DISCONTOOLS receives funding from a range of national funders of research from EU member states. The project is managed by a Project Management Board (PMB) comprising members from various stakeholders in animal health (see below). The governance structure of the project is presented graphically in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Governance structure of DISCONTOOLS
The Funders provide financing to the project, approve the composition of the Project Management Board, approve detailed and provisional budgets and take ownership of the DISCONTOOLS disease information documents.
Table 1. Funders of the DISCONTOOLS project
The Project Management Board (PMB) comprises the Funders and members selected from the animal health industry, users of animal health products, public bodies, research and education networks. The meetings are chaired by the DISCONTOOLS project manager/coordinator from AnimalhealthEurope or a delegated substitute. The PMB:
· Reviews and monitor the DISCONTOOLS programme.
· Decides on strategies within the framework of the project.
· Develops the exploitation and dissemination strategy.
· Contributes to implementating the activities of the project.
· Approves the documents provided by the Disease Expert Groups before they are uploaded to the DISCONTOOLS website. Where “approval” means that the DISCONTOOLS procedures were followed and that the documents comply with expectations of the DISCONTOOLS Funders and PMB.
The PMB has a face-to-face meeting twice a year. The composition of the PMB is given in Table 2. New members can be proposed by the Funders of the DISCONTOOLS project or members of the Project Management Board, and will first require approval by the Funders of the DISCONTOOLS project.
The Disease Expert Groups are created by the DISCONTOOLS secretariat in order to update the information in the DISCONTOOLS database for diseases identified by the Project Management Board. A different Disease Expert Group is formed for each identified disease. The Disease Expert Groups are by preference composed of members with expertise in epidemiology, laboratory diagnosis, trade/economics and a representative from industry and contain by preference members with a global representation. The group is responsible for preparing the disease and product information documents and completing the prioritisation and gap analysis scoring sheets.
The DISCONTOOLS secretariat is based at the offices of AnimalhealthEurope. Its role is to carry out the day-to-day management of the project and connect the different stakeholders with each other. The secretariat:
· Supports the Disease Expert Groups in developing their documentation.
· Reviews the documents provided by the Disease Expert Groups for consistency.
· Implements the decisions taken by the Funders and PMB.
· Uploads the information provided by the Disease Expert Groups on the DISCONTOOLS website after it is approved by the PMB.
· Develops promotional materials.
· Presents the project on meetings and conferences.
Table 2. Composition of the DISCONTOOLS Project Management Board