A Rich History

Hannah Dairy Research Foundation History
  • Significant Contributions to Biomedical Research

    While the Institute’s core-funded programme had always been tied to agriculture and food production, the very nature of scientific research necessarily meant that studies of fundamental biology of direct relevance to agricultural animal science led to increased activity in the field of human biological research and, by 2002, Institute scientists were involved in, and making, significant contributions to biomedical research. At the time this appeared to be more in line with the direction in which government-funded research was heading given a lack of political support for funding agricultural research.

    The Institute’s scientific focus, therefore, shifted to seeking to improve Scotland’s and world health by exploring and explaining the emerging links between lifestyle and lifelong health and well-being. At the same time food research and support for the food industry was dealt with separately as part of the CHARIS Initiative, developed as part of the Food Clusters Strategy by Scottish Enterprise and food industry leaders in Scotland.

  • The Birth of Dolly the Sheep

    Scientific debate over the potential for cloning mammals, including humans, intensified following the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1996. While the cell culture and micromanipulations involved were undertaken by PPL Therapeutics and scientists from the Roslin Institute, they used cryopreserved mammary cells that had been prepared at the Hannah from tissue of a late-pregnant Finn-Dorset ewe.

  • Publications and Collaborations

    By 1990 Institute scientists were producing over 140 publications per year – an average of nearly 5 per project leader; collaboration with 30 departments in 19 UK universities was ongoing; collaborative research was also being undertaken with scientists in 11 countries outwith the UK.

  • What’s Your Problem TV Programme

    In 1985 D.J. Flint appeared on the Scottish Television programme What’s Your Problem in a feature concerning his studies relating to the reduction of body fat. This gave rise to considerable coverage in the media worldwide.

    Experiments were now being carried out into manipulating milk fat composition not by oil addition but by modifying the cereal component of cows’ diets enabling the saturated fatty acid content of milk fat to be reduced by up to 17%.

  • Renamed The Hannah Research Institute

    In 1983 the Institute was renamed The Hannah Research Institute.

  • Reorganisation of Departments

    In 1981, Malcolm Peaker succeeded John Rook as director of the Institute and there followed a reorganisation of departments:

    Animal Nutrition and Production

    • To establish a basis for the development of integrated crop production and animal production systems offering optional farming strategies to meet market requirements for milk

    Chemistry and Physics of Milk

    • The partitioning of milk protein between soluble and colloidal phases under different conditions and the implications of this for processing
    • The chemical nature of milk proteins and the types of reaction caused by processing (eg heating)
    • The physical chemistry of milk constituents and the interactions between them.

    Lipid Biochemistry and Enzymology

    • Biochemical factors governing the supply of nutrients, especially lipids, to the mammary gland and thence into milk.

    Milk Untilisation

    • Applied research related to the manufacture of milk products

    Director’s Group

    • The study of mammary physiology: the control of the number and activity of mammary cells in relation to the factors determining milk yield and the cellular mechanisms of milk secretion.

  • Cream-based Whisky Liqueur

    In November 1979 the Institute was approached by a distilling company which wished to introduce a cream-based whisky liqueur onto the market but lacked the necessary scientific and technical knowledge for the formulation of the cream base. Experiments confirmed that the temperature instability of cream liqueur was related to the presence of milk serum components and, by the addition of a stabiliser, a formulation was obtained that met the criteria for stability required by the distillers and allowed commercial production to begin.

  • Understanding Dietary Manipulation

    Integrating the research of the Chemistry department with the work of the Applied Studies department established a better understanding of the relationship between the diet of the cow, milk composition and the manufacturing properties of the milk. Dietary manipulation produced a butter having good spreadability characteristics at refrigeration temperature.

  • BBC Film on Silage Making

    In 1977 the BBC transmitted a film on silage making at the Institute with contributions from Hannah staff.

  • Three Main Areas of Research

    The three main areas of research at this time were thus:

    • the efficient production of nutrients and their utilization by dairy cattle
    • the chemistry and physical chemistry of milk constituents, especially protein, in relation to the nutritive role and processing characteristics of milk the effect of environment on the physiology of cattle.
    • the research expanded into the area of climate-related aspects of animal productivity and included studies in thermoregulation; metabolic response to cold; biology of the skin of cattle.

  • Studies Relating to the Production and Utilization of Milk

    Professor John A.F. Rook instigated a reorganisation of the Institute following the retiral of Dr Smith in 1970. This reflected a need for research to be directed more towards the solution of industrial problems. Three specialist departments (Biochemistry, Chemistry and Physiology) were given responsibility for research into scientific problems of importance to either milk production or milk utilization. A fourth, Applied Studies Department, was given the wider role of conducting research with well defined practical objectives while at the same time assisting the three specialist departments with the practical exploitation of their research findings. The name of the Institute was changed to The Hannah Research Institute for Studies Relating to the Production and Utilization of Milk – no short, punchy acronyms in those days!

  • Dr Wright Knighted

    In 1950 Dr Wright, who had been seconded several times for special service overseas, was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Food, later becoming Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation. He was knighted in 1963.

  • Dr J.D. Findlay invited by UN Special Fund

    Dr J.D. Findlay, who had played a major role in developing the Institute’s physiology department, was a recognized authority on the environmental physiology of cattle and was appointed a member of the MRC Committee on Climatic Physiology. In 1961 he was invited by the UN Special Fund (New York) to evaluate a request from Peru for assistance in establishing a tropical and high-altitude veterinary institute.

  • Dr K. L. Blaxter awarded Thomas Baxter Prize

    Dr K. L. Blaxter established an international reputation as a leading authority on the energy metabolism of farm animals and in 1960 was awarded the Thomas Baxter Prize for his research on the nutrition of dairy cattle. This was followed by the Research Medal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England in recognition of his contribution to knowledge of the metabolism and nutrition of farm animals.

  • Dr Waite Invited by FAO

    The Institute’s Dr Waite had become an established authority on dried milk and, in 1955, on the invitation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, he spent two months in India advising on a programme of research on the manufacture of invalid and infant foods. In 1960 he was invited to spend six weeks in Australia to advise the NSW Milk Board on problems associated with the SNF (solids-not-fat) content of milk during which time he undertook an extensive programme of lecturing and broadcasting which was much appreciated by members of the dairy industry in that country.

  • Dr James A.B. Smith

    Dr James A.B. Smith succeeded Dr Wright as Director of the Institute in 1950 and there followed a most rewarding period for the Institute, during which its considerable reputation was enhanced and international recognition obtained for the work of many of its scientists.

  • Modern Methods of Dehydration

    During the war dehydration of foods, including vegetables, fish and milk, became increasingly important and in 1943 the Institute was chosen to stage a demonstration to illustrate the value of modern methods of dehydration and their possible applications in the food industry.

  • Farm Self-sufficiency

    The war years saw the Institute’s effort being channeled towards investigations into farm self-sufficiency, protein substitutes for dairy cows, bovine mastitis and the preparation and storage of dried milk. Research was also undertaken on the bacteriology of evaporated and sweetened condensed milks and on problems related to canned cream.

  • Increase in Grassland Productivity

    Institute studies in the production and utilisation of grass contributed to an 80% increase in productivity of British grassland from the 1930s.

  • Area Eradication Plan

    In the mid 1930s, the County of Ayr was declared the first bovine tuberculosis-free area in the country following collaboration between Institute scientists and the local authority veterinary staff. It was another twenty years before the whole country would be rid of the disease following the introduction of the Area Eradication Plan based on the principles established by the Institute twenty years before.

  • Dr Norman Wright Appointed First Director

    Dr Norman Wright was appointed the first permanent director of the Institute in 1930 and saw three projects as top priority:

    • an investigation into the incidence of tuberculosis in dairy herds and the percentage of reacting cows giving tuberculosis milk
    • a joint investigation with the Edinburgh Royal Veterinary College on milk fever and allied diseases
    • studies on the physiology of milk secretion

    Scientists at the Hannah were soon at the forefront of convincing a dubious British public of the merits of milk pasteurisation.

Founded in 1928