Sustainable food security - DISARM

Jeroen Dewulf

Prof Jeroen Dewulf,
Ghent University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary epidemiology unit.             





Description of the PI

Jeroen Dewulf graduated in 1998 as a veterinarian from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Ghent University, Belgium. He immediately started working as researcher at the Herd health department of the faculty. In 2002 he finished his PhD on the epidemiology and control of classical swine fever. In that same year he received  a master of science degree in veterinary epidemiology from the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands (Cum Laude). He became diplomat in the European College of Veterinary Public Health in 2005.

Since 2006 he is associated professor in Veterinary Epidemiology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Ghent University. In 2014 he was appointed as full professor in Veterinary Epidemiology. His main research interests are quantitative epidemiology and control of zoonoses with a specific emphasis on antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in animal production as well as the prevention of epidemic and endemic diseases with a focus on the application of biosecurity measures.

His research focus on prevention of endemic and epidemic diseases through biosecurity biosecurity measures and animal health aspects that may influence public health such as antimicrobial use and resistance in animals as well as zoonotic infections. He is the head of the Veterinary Epidemiology Unit and is supervising over 10 PhD students who are doing research in the field of veterinary epidemiology. He is (co-)author of over 270 A1 publications in the field of veterinary epidemiology with a H-index of 42.

He is the principal author of the annual Belgian report on antimicrobial consumption in animals (BelVetSac) and is member of the European Surveillance on Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) network and chair of the JPI-AMR network on quantification of antimicrobial consumption in animals at herd level. Since 2009 he is member of the scientific committee of the Belgian federal food Agency and is the founder and chair of board of the center of expertise on antimicrobial use and resistance in animals (AMCRA) in Belgium. He is also the author of the book “biosecurity in animal production and veterinary medicine” as well as the book “8 myths on antimicrobial resistance disproved, practical guide for reducing antibiotic use in animal husbandry”

Description of the project

The DISARM thematic network is focused on developing a network to link together farmers, veterinarians (vets), advisors, industry members and researchers to codify and promote best practice strategies to reduce antibiotic resistance in intensive and grazing livestock farming.

The network will focus on pigs, poultry for meat production, intensive dairy production and the grazing (dairy, beef and sheep).  As a generalisation, the pig and meat poultry sectors have been extremely proactive on biosecurity, but many farms in these sectors still use relatively large quantities of antibiotics, often on a routine basis.  In contrast the grazing sector has lower usage rates for antibiotics, but poorer adoption of biosecurity measures.

There is real benefit in the exchange of innovative approaches between these sectors and countries, with the different sectors able to learn from the approaches to livestock health adopted by innovative farmers in other sectors or countries.  The overall aim is to reduce the use of antimicrobials through disseminating best practices which reduce the build-up of antibiotic resistance in livestock.

The objectives of the DISARM thematic network are to:

  • Develop a Community of Practice (CoP) for those involved in the development of innovative ways to reduce antibiotic resistance in livestock production.  
  • To produce 10 best practice guides on how to adopt management strategies and new technologies which target the reduction of antibiotic resistance in a range of species and farming systems.
  • Develop a library of open access information sources, which can be used by farmers and their advisors to access information on strategies to reduce antibiotic resistance
  • Work with 40 farms to develop, trial and codify ways in which multi-actor groups (based on the tripartite of core interested parties: farmer, feed/other advisors, vets) can work together to develop multi-actor farm health plans.
  • Develop a new model of participatory innovation service in which innovative farmers are both co-creators and recipients of advice through multi-actor farm health plan groups, helping to formulate plans which draw on best practice and which can be disseminated
  • Run 80 events and workshops by month 36 to connect livestock farmers, their farm advisors and veterinarians with farmers who have already adopted innovative approaches to reducing antibiotic resistance.  
  • Deliver 3 annual research and policy prioritisation reports on farm research and innovation needs to guide further work on reducing antibiotic resistance at farm level without compromising animal welfare.  
  • Develop the conditions (network, finance and activities) to sustain the CoP and DISARM network after the 3 year initial project ends by sustaining the online forum, linking to EIP Operational Groups and other projects focused on tackling antibiotic resistance