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The EpiCentre was established in 1986 and has since developed into an international focus group for veterinary epidemiology and public health. Its ‘flagship’ is the Master of Veterinary Studies in Epidemiology, a programme tha
t trained post-graduate students from over 30 countries worldwide since 1995. A second Massey epidemiology group, the molecular EpiLab (mEpiLab), was founded in 2008 as an off-spring of the EpiCentre at the School of Veterinary Science (SoVS). EpiCentre and mEpiLab form a close partnership. Both groups provide world class excellence in research and development of population health in animals and humans.
In 2014, EpiCentre and mEpiLab were jointly nominated as OIE regional Collaborating Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health. Two years later (2016), the China Animal Health Epidemiology Centre (CAHEC) in Qingdao, Shandong Province, joined as an OIE-CC partner. In 2017, EpiCentre was a founding partner of CSIRO Australia (AAHL) and Melbourne University to be jointly nominated OIE Collaborating Centre for Diagnostic Test Evaluation Science.
EpiCentre maintains and extends an international recognised portfolio of veterinary epidemiology and public health. A primary objective is the continued delivery of a high level of teaching to SoVS students, post-graduate students and to strategic partners in government, industries and global health. The group develops and provides cutting-edge epidemiological tools and research and development services to livestock farmers, companion animal owners and public health communities in New Zealand and overseas. EpiCentre develops solutions and supports decisions for the control of emerging and epidemic diseases, animal suffering and economic loss in livestock systems in New Zealand and overseas.
In addition to the internal partner mEpiLab, our clients and external partners include specialist groups at Massey and other universities, private industries and non-government organisations, for example DairyNZ, Beef&Lamb NZ, Deer NZ, Rural Women NZ, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Assure Quality, and pharmaceutical companies. Government public partners include the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Ministry of Health and Network Infrastructure Project Agreement (NIPA).
Our international collaborators are OIE CC partners CAHEC, CSIRO and Melbourne University as well as partners in research and development such as universities in Sydney, Minnesota, Cornell, Calgary, London, Hong Kong and others.
We endeavour to provide quality research and increasing research outputs in high-ranking journals.
The continuous provision of a high level of teaching is a strategic priority. To achieve this, EpiCentre staff maintain a high level of technical and human resource skills. The group generates revenues to keep financially stable. We subscribe to Vision Matauranga in research supporting Maori communities.
Specific activity areas include:
• One-Health and One-welfare
• Causes, spread and control of zoonotic diseases
• Control of infectious diseases of economic importance to NZ
• Impact of climate change on infectious diseases in animals and people
• Risk communication to inform policy
• Understanding and supporting social science decision making
• Emergency preparedness for pet owners and farmers
• Develop best-practice farm working dogs
• Companion animal epidemiology
• The role of wildlife species for animal and human health
• Planning and conduct of clinical trials and studies of disease in populations
To achieve these goals, important capability areas are qualitative and quantitative epidemiological and statistical knowledge and the application of modern and evidence-based teaching modes to a range of learning environments. The group’s capabilities cover high quality online and contact teaching of undergraduate students, the epidemiology master programme (MVS), and master and PhD supervision. Specific areas include population-based study design, advanced statistical data analysis, spatial and temporal epidemiology, livestock production, animal health economics, infectious disease control, companion animal epidemiology, social science decision making, risk analysis and risk communication, syndromic surveillance, designing online tools, communication platforms, development of analytical tools for complex animal health data, and database management.
EpiCentre staff currently covers a broad range of skills and experiences of cutting-edge epidemiological tools and applications. It has been developing new methodologies and generated strong ties to national and international partners.
It also developed a strong teaching portfolio within SoVS and for external partners. EC has developed online teaching modules that were instrumental for bridging the Covid-19 distant learning needs and for delivering a set of flexible eLearning modules for external clients (MPI, APCOVE, OIE). These are promising products to be maintained and extended for current and future eLearning and in-class post-graduate offerings.
EpiCentre ties with mEpiLab (mEL) as a sister group at Massey with a very different but highly complimentary portfolio. As listed above, mEpiLab has a focus on infectious, bacterial zoonotic diseases with an associated PC-II laboratory and strong molecular microbiology and epidemiology skills. It’s core interest is in research with a comparatively small associated teaching calendar. EC and mEL align on a number of research programmes on zoonotic disease and public health, e.g. leptospirosis, paratuberculosis, campylobacteriosis. Another sister group, albeit a little more distant in terms of ongoing collaboration, is the Centre of Public Health Research (CPHR) at the Wellington campus of Massey University.
Traditional clients and funding sources are NZ livestock, companion and equine industries. EC has worked and will continue to service MPI, Fonterra, DairyNZ, Beef&Lamb, DeerNZ and others. Non-profit organisations such as Rural Women (RWNZ)
Strong future opportunities arise from international affiliations. EC is leading the OIE Collaborating Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health in East and South-Eats Asia and the South Pacific together with mEL and the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Centre (CAHEC) in Qingdao/Shandong province of China. EC and Uni Melbourne are partners of the OIE Collaborating Centre on Diagnostic Test Evaluation Science led by AAHL, Geelong/Australia. Ongoing and new funded consulting programmes have emerged from these ties, such as the MFAT/OIE FMD control in South East Asia, the Asia-Pacific Consortium for Veterinary Epidemiology (APCOVE), or the FAO Risk Assessment for the introduction of African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
Page authorised by Professor Cord Heuer
Last updated on Friday 04 September 2020