Coronavirus cell

UK International Coronavirus Network (UK-ICN)

The UK International Coronavirus Network (UK-ICN) is a four-year project (Oct 2021 – Oct 2025), funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Led by Professor Julian Hiscox (Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences), the UK-ICN is hosted at the University of Liverpool and will provide and support global co-ordination for the delivery of collaborative scientific research and sustained long-term one health approach to better investigation of coronaviruses, improved surveillance, and social policies.  

The aims of UK-ICN are as follows:

  • To provide a community gateway, including a network of networks with the inclusion of UK and international bodies (FAO/OIE/WHO)
  • To facilitate and co-ordinate interactions between members, especially at the animal-human-environment interface
  • To foster cross-fertilisation of ideas, providing expert perspectives to identify knowledge gaps 
  • Create research opportunities and build an evidence-based road map for one-health 
  • Ensure the longevity of coronavirus research after the impetus of SARS-CoV2 has reduced 
  • Disseminate and preserve knowledge to better combat future emerging coronaviruses

UK-ICN Research Themes:

UK-ICN activities will be led by our multidisciplinary partnership of the following co-directors spanning five distinct themes:

  • One Health and Zoonoses – Professor James Wood, University of Cambridge
  • Surveillance; Detection and Characterisation – Dr Sharon Brookes, The Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Countermeasures and Interventions – Dr Erica Bickerton & Dr Dalan Bailey (Interim), The Pirbright Institute
  • Behaviour and Social Policy – Professor Lisa Boden, The University of Edinburgh
  • SARS-CoV3 and the Future – Professor Paul Digard, The Roslin Institute

Expected outputs include:

  • Better understanding of ecologies at the animal-human-environment interface
  • Enhanced understanding of coronaviruses and intervention tools
  • Increased integration of human-veterinary coronaviruses research and innovation capacity and capability
  • Networking through a range of virtual and in-person events directed at various levels, including workshops and symposia
  • Identification of research gaps and future priorities
  • A roadmap for future priorities and potential policy paper

Resources and Expertise

The UK-ICN directorate is supported by a global multi-disciplinary panel within the management board. To date, the UK-ICN has recruited management board representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and North America. Expertise includes clinicians, veterinarians, academics, government agencies and industry partners. 

Collectively the UK-ICN represents key global infrastructure and expertise with high containment pathogens including Bio-containment levels (CL) 2, 3 and 4 with both Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) 2, 3, 4 and/or Specific Animal Pathogens Orders (SAO) 2, 3 and 4 for both in vitro and in vivo research.

Additionally, the University of Liverpool hosts the Centre of Genome Research (CGR) and is critically underpinning the capability of COG-UK. APHA has full sequencing and variant analyses capability on site. This knowledge and associated training will be shared within the network.

Other resources of interest include the ISARIC-4C COVID-19 biobank at the University of Liverpool, and standardised reagents at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC).

UK-ICN Funders

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