Ruminants and other large domestic herbivores are often used in agricultural research both as target species for increasing knowledge on production systems and their impact on the environment. They are also used as models for physiological studies, and for biomedical research. ERIN is a support action aiming at identifying potential European networks of animal facilities for research on large animals that will support future research needs in this area. Its objectives are i) to identify future needs for experimental research on large animals, ii) to locate and characterise European experimental facilities and identify those that are candidates for forming an integrated infrastructure, and iii) to combine future needs and potential research facilities in order to produce potential scenarios of organisation. ERIN will use a combination of bibliometrical studies and collaborative networks for the identification of potential candidates (research groups and experimental facilities) for a quantitative survey of the main research institutes and universities in Europe, and complete this with qualitative analyses based on in-depth interviews of key research managers and visits to selected experimental facilities. Crossing the results of future needs expressed by research groups and of experimental potential will help to establish scenarios of the future organisation of research facilities in Europe. Results and scenarios will be presented at a final conference where the major research agencies and funding bodies will be invited to express their positions and react on these scenarios. Final recommendations will be made regarding possible integrated organisations of research facilities dedicated to research on large domestic animals with a view to stimulating synergies, facilitating researcher mobility and achieving a critical mass in Europe able to compete with future large foreign research consortia.
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