Science - September 30, 2004

Chinese student gets NWO grant

A rigid approach to destroying cattle and pigs, as implemented during the last outbreak of foot and mouth disease, may soon become a thing of the past. Lan Ge, a researcher at the Farm Management group, has received a Mosaic subsidy worth 180,000 euros for PhD research on ways to make interim policy adjustments to help fight the infectious animal disease more effectively.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awards the grant to young talented graduates of foreign origin. The Chinese researcher will spend the next four years examining the values assigned in model calculations to data such as the number of infection foci during an outbreak or the number of new cases in a certain time period.

Incorporating this information into a model could mean that the radius within which farms are cleared or animals are vaccinated would not have to be fixed, but could be adjusted depending on various factors. The model should make it possible to determine whether to wait longer before introducing irreversible measures such as clearing, therefore also avoiding unnecessary socio-economic costs. Ge will be awarded the grant on 5 October by the minister of education Maria Van der Hoeven. / YdH

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