Royal Veterinary College London

The Royal Veterinary College is the largest and longest-established vet school in the English speaking world and is a college of the University of London. The College offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing and is ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences.

Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group

The Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group (VEEPH) is part of the RVC's Department of Production and Population Health. The Group is led by Professor Dirk Pfeiffer and currently consists of over fifty academic staff, contract researchers, PhD students and Senior Clinical Training Scholars.  The group’s research has a direct impact on shaping policy both at national and international level. Many of the group’s experts are at the top of their field internationally and many have the opportunity to collect field data.

The group is involved in around 50 projects across four continents: Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. The research covers livestock and companion animal epidemiology, veterinary public health, animal health surveillance programmes and animal health economics. Many projects are research collaborations with national and international partners, including higher education providers, the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the European Commission and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Role in the project

Project Coordinator. WP 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 participant | Leadership of WP1 | | Conceptual surveillance framework development | Development of frameworks and tools for demonstration of freedom from disease | Evaluation of epidemiological and economic effectiveness of surveillance systems| Development of  decision making tools for implementing risk-based surveillance| Training, dissemination and exploitation| Management and coordination| Facilitate communication with policy makers and other stakeholders |  Development of a case-study on BVD surveillance in England within WP5| Development of e-learning material in WP 7.

Key-persons assigned to RISKSUR

Prof Dirk Pfeiffer

Dirk is a Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology, and Head of the Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group in the Department of Production and Population Health. He graduated with a Degree in Veterinary Medicine and completed a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. Following this Dirk went on to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Tropical Veterinary Medicine. After his PhD in veterinary epidemiology, he became a Lecturer in Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Massey where he then also appointed as Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology. Dirk joined the Royal Veterinary College in 1999 as a Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology. Dirk is also an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.  Membership of various Advisory Committees and Expert Panels.  More information here.

Prof Jonathan Rushton

Jonathan is a Professor of Animal Health Economics and a member of the Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group. His work focuses on improving the wellbeing of people and animals through better resource allocation to animal health, disease and welfare problems. His background is in agricultural economics with a strong specialisation in the economics of animal health and livestock production.  He joined the Veterinary Epidemiology, Economics and Public Health Group at RVC in February 2009 as a Senior Lecturer and from January 2013 as Professor of Animal Health Economics. More information here.

Dr Barbara Haesler

Barbara is a Lecturer in Agrihealth with the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH) and the Royal Veterinary College. She has a strong interest in applying One Health or Ecohealth approaches to better understand food systems and how changes in those impact on food safety and food security and to improve the wellbeing of people and animals through better resource allocation. Barbara graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bern (Switzerland) in 2002 and she came to the RVC in April 2007 to work as a research assistant in Veterinary Public Health. From 2008 to 2011 she did a PhD on the economics of veterinary surveillance. During the same time, she obtained a Certificate of Higher Education in Economics from Birkbeck College, University of London. More information here.

Dr Betty Bisdorff

Betty is a postdoctoral researcher in the Veterinary Epidemiology Economics and Public Health group. She mainly works on the RISKSUR project, within which she is currently doing an economic evaluation of potential surveillance strategies for the control of BVD in England. After graduating with a PhD in Veterinary Epidemiology, on sheep ectoparasitic diseases from Bristol University, she started to work as an epidemiologist for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). After completing two postdoctoral projects in Munich she took up a post as a postdoctoral researcher in the economics of surveillance in the VEEPH group at RVC in September 2013. More information here.

Dr Timothée Vergne

Timothée is a post-doctoral researcher particularly interested in animal disease surveillance and transmission of infectious diseases. During his post-doc, he contributes to the understanding of African swine fever transmission in Eastern Europe for identifying efficient control strategies and to the development of an original framework for evaluating disease surveillance systems. Timothée obtained his degree in veterinary medicine in 2008 from the University of Toulouse, France followed by a Masters degree on Animal Health and Epidemiology in Tropical Countries (CIRAD, France). He then did a PHD and in November 2012, he joined the RVC as a post-doctoral researcher. More information here.

Relevant ongoing international projects and contracts

  • ASForce: Targeted research effort on African swine fever
  • NEAT: Networking to enhance the use of economics in animal health education, research and policy-making in Europe and beyond

Relevant publications

  1. Grosbois V, Häsler B,  Peyre M, Hiep DT, Vergne T. A rationale to unify measurements of effectiveness for animal health surveillance.  Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2015-1.
  2. Rodríguez-Prieto V, Vicente-Rubiano M, Sánchez-Matamoros A, Rubio-Guerri C, Melero M, Martínez-López B, Martínez-Avilés M, Hoinville L, Vergne T, Comin A, Schauer B, Dórea F, Pfeiffer DU, Sánchez-Vizcaíno JM.  Systematic review of surveillance systems and methods for early detection of exotic, new and re-emerging diseases in animal populations. Epidemiol Infect., 2014 Sep 12:1-25.
  3. Vergne T, Guinat C, Petkova P, Gogin A, Kolbasov D, Blome S, Molia S, Pinto Ferreira J, Wieland B, Nathues H, Pfeiffer DU.  Attitudes and Beliefs of Pig Farmers and Wild Boar Hunters Towards Reporting of African Swine Fever in Bulgaria, Germany and the Western Part of the Russian Federation. Transbound Emerg Dis., 2014.
  4. Vergne T, Paul MC, Chaengprachak W,  Durand B, Gilbert M, Dufour B, Roger F, Kasemsuwan S, Grosbois V.  Zero-inflated models for identifying disease risk factors when case detection is imperfect: application to highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 in Thailand. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2014 114: 28-36
  5. Hoinville LJ, Alban L, Drewe JA, Gibbens JC, Gustafson L, Häsler B, Saegerman C, Salman M, Stärk KDC. Proposed terms and concepts for describing and evaluating animal-health surveillance systems.  Preventive Veterinary Medicine 112, 2013 1–12.
  6. Drewe JA, Häsler B, Rushton J, Stärk KDC. Assessing the expenditure distribution of animal health surveillance: the case of Great Britain. Veterinary Record, 2013.  doi: 10.1136/vr.101846
  7. Gilbert W, Häsler B, Rushton J. Influences of farmer and veterinarian behaviour on emerging disease surveillance in England and Wales. Epidemiol. Infect, 2013.  doi:10.1017/S0950268813000484.
  8. Rushton J,  Häsler, B,  de Haan N, Rushton, R.  Economic benefits or drivers of a ‘One Health’ approach: Why should anyone invest? Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research, 2012 -79(2), Art. #461. Open access:
  9. Häsler, B, Howe, KS, Presi, P, Stärk, KD.  An economic model to evaluate the mitigation programme for bovine viral diarrhoea in Switzerland. Prev. Vet. Med., March 6 2012 (Epub ahead of print). PubMed ID 22402180
  10. Häsler, B, Howe, KS, Di Labio, E, Schwermer, H, Stärk, KD.  Economic evaluation of the surveillance and intervention programme for bluetongue virus serotype 8 in Switzerland. Prev. Vet. Med., 2012-Feb 1, 103(2-3): 93-111. PubMed ID 22018548
  11. Häsler, B, Howe, KS, Hauser, R, Stärk, KD. A qualitative approach to measure the effectiveness of active avian influenza virus surveillance with respect to its cost: A case study from Switzerland. Prev. Vet. Med., Jan 30.  2012. PubMed ID 22296733
  12. Häsler, B, Howe, KS, Stärk, KD. Conceptualising the technical relationship of animal disease surveillance to intervention and mitigation as a basis for economic analysis. BMC Health Services Research, Sep 19 2011; 11:225. Open access: