Roslin Scientists are Innovator of the Year Finalists

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Published on 17 February 2014

Dr Ross Houston and Professor Steve Bishop, scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, have been nominated as finalists in a UK Innovation competition.

The Innovator of the Year Competition is run each year by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to reflect the breadth of the benefits delivered by BBSRC’s investment in UK bioscience

Ross and Steve are among the three finalists shortlisted in the category ‘Commercial Innovator’ for their research establishing a genetic test for disease-resistant Atlantic salmon.

They will be competing to be crowned Innovator of the Year 2014 at a high-profile event in London on 20 March 2014 in recognition of their efforts to take their innovation beyond the lab to deliver social and economic benefits.

Salmon farming contributes around half a billion pounds to the UK economy each year and provides healthy, high quality food. Worldwide, approximately 1.5 million tonnes of Atlantic salmon are produced every year.

Farmed salmon are kept together in freshwater tanks, and later in large salt water cages to grow. In these environments, diseases caused by viruses and bacteria can spread, as well as outbreaks of sea lice. These factors can devastate the yield of the farm.

Together Ross and Steve have undertaken research aimed at producing salmon which will be less likely to catch diseases or infection.

This is done by looking at the genes of salmon which have contracted these diseases and identifying the difference between them and the genes of those which did not. Fish with gene variants leading to greater resistance can be chosen and bred with one another, decreasing the likelihood of their offspring contracting diseases.

Steve said of their nomination as finalists, “This is a real honour and we are delighted to have made it through to the final of the 2014 BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition.”

Ross continued, “This nomination is the result of a real team effort and we must also thank our many collaborators both academic and industrial for being important contributors to this research.”

‘Commercial Innovator’ is one of the three categories in which finalists have been listed, the other two being ‘Social Innovator’ and ‘Most Promising Innovator’. One of the category winners will then be chosen as the overall Innovator of the Year.

The finalists will be judged by an expert independent panel. The judges will be looking to recognise those innovators who have worked the hardest and gone the furthest to take their science out of the lab to deliver impact.

Innovator of the Year is one of BBSRC’s Fostering Innovation competitions. A full list of the finalists along with more information about Innovator of the Year can be found at: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/innovator.

For further information, please contact:
Jen Middleton, Press and PR Office, tel 0131 650 6514; email jen.middleton@ed.ac.uk

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