James Wood has been named the Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science. This unique professorship is in honour of the celebrated career of the thoroughbred Alborada.

The professorship has been generously endowed by the Alborada Trust, which was founded in October 2001 and is named after the well-known race-mare.

Alborada, bred and raced by Kirsten Rausing, has had an esteemed career, winning several prestigious races, including twice winning the Newmarket Champion Stakes (Group 1). She was officially rated the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in the World in 1998.

The Alborada Trust’s aims include the funding of veterinary causes in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, with activities primarily devoted to the welfare of animals. However, the Alborada Trust also assists with projects throughout the world associated with the relief of poverty, human suffering, sickness or ill health and in the advancement of education.

As evidenced by the major foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001, domestic animals are under constant risk of diseases, some of which can be serious threats for human health. This outbreak highlights the importance of protecting livestock against infectious diseases by improving our understanding of their underlying causes and developing more effective treatments.

In his new post Professor Wood will lead the management and development of the equine and farm animal sections of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge. He is currently developing the Department’s research strategy for equine and farm animal science in order to facilitate current and new research projects in these areas. In addition, he is Director of the Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium, which researches the evolution, spread and control of infectious animal diseases, including those transmissible to humans.

Professor Wood has had a long career working with horses as well as other animals. For over a decade he headed the Epidemiology Unit at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket before joining the University in 2005. Some of his recent research examines the epidemiology of diseases such as Bluetongue and African Horse Sickness, as well as bovine Tuberculosis and influenza in horses and pigs. He also works on infections in African wildlife that can spread to domestic animals and man.

Professor Duncan Maskell, Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, said: “I am very excited about this new Professorship. Equine and livestock diseases are important causes of welfare problems and major causes of losses to the economy. Strengthening the already excellent research base in Cambridge, especially in infectious diseases, by the establishment of this new Chair, and the election of James Wood, provides us with a great opportunity to really make a difference in this important area of activity.

“I am very grateful indeed to the Alborada Trust for enabling this development with their generous donation, and I look forward to a strong and productive relationship with the Trustees in the future.”

Professor James Wood said: “It is a great honour to be appointed into this position, and I look forward to exploiting the exciting opportunities for research here in the University across a range of different equine and farm animal diseases. We must address the growing threats to human and animal health that exist in this changing world - and this is best accomplished through scientific evidence.”

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