National Reference Center

National Reference Centers (NRC) associated with CIRI teams

The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (Institut de veille sanitaire, InVS), a governmental institution reporting to the Ministry of Health, is responsible for surveillance and alert in all domains of public health. The InVS is responsible for: i) continuous monitoring of the population’s health status, ii) health surveillance, iii) health alert, and iv) help in management of health crises. It relies on different national and international networks that participate in the surveillance of population health status, among which its 47 National Reference Centers (NRC) play a key role (

Four NRCs are directly connected to or even hosted at the CIRI through their association with specific teams. These NRCs make very important links between fundamental research and field/clinical investigations by providing new/emerging strains or agents to CIRI teams as well as clinical specimens, and by the input to clinical questions of a larger number of teams carrying a wide diversity of expertise. In addition, with regards to their involvement in numerous international networks, the NRCs will facilitate the establishment of collaborations between CIRI teams and external experts, which will not only be beneficial to the quality of the scientific projects but also help to obtain financial support.
These NRCs are briefly described below.

NRC for viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF)
The NRC for VHF is directed by S. Baize (UBIVE team) jointly with the Jean Mérieux BSL4 laboratory (D Pannetier, as the Deputy Director). This NRC is in charge of the surveillance, expertise, and diagnosis of VHF caused by risk-group (RG) 4-classified viruses such as Filoviruses, Arenaviruses, and Bunyaviruses, as well as of encephalitis due to Henipavirus infections.
This NRC is an important asset for the CIRI because of its complementarity to the research led by several CIRI teams (i.e. those of B Horvat, S Baize and V Volchkov) on highly pathogenic (RG4-classified) agents. The NRC will bring an important field and clinical angle to the CIRI and will, in particular, substantially reinforce Objective #4 “Emerging and highly pathogenic infections”.
Of note, the LPE team (G Vernet) is part of the network of the NRC for Arboviruses – certain genus are also VHF agents – that is hosted by the Virology Department of the Institute for Biomedical Research of Army (IRBA) in Marseille.

NRC for Hantavirus
The UBIVE team also hosts the NRC for Hantaviruses (Dir. JM Reynes). This NRC is in charge of hemorrhagic fevers with renal syndrome (HFRS) and of cardio-pulmonary syndrome (HPS) caused by Hantaviruses. HPS and severe HFRS are induced by Hantaviruses that do not circulate in continental France. HPS is frequently encountered in North and South America, including French Guyana, while severe HFRS is widely distributed, particularly in Central Europa and Asia. Furthermore, the Puumala virus (PUUV), another Hantavirus that induces a less severe form of HFRS, is endemic in the North-East of France where it causes a few hundred cases each year. Thus, this NRC is dealing with pathogens that represent not only a problem for public health in France, but also constitute an emerging threat worldwide, with regard to the recent discovery of new highly pathogenic Hantaviruses such as Sin nombre or Maripa viruses. This reference laboratory will greatly improve the research led by CIRI teams regarding the circulation of Hantaviruses in rodents as well as the phenotypic and genotypic characterization of Hantaviruses.

NRC for Staphylococci and NRC for Legionella

CNR staphylocoques
CNR legionelle

The NRC for Staphylococci (Dir. F Vandenesch, deputy Directors A. Tristan & F.Laurent) and the NRC for Legionella (Dir. S Jarraud, deputy Director G. Lina) hosted at the Hospices Civils de Lyon (HCL), are strongly associated with CIRI teams (beyond the teams Staphylococcal Pathogenesis and Legionella Pathogenesis). Both NRC have developed a strong network of microbiologists and clinicians at the local and nationwide levels; since 30 years, they have implemented very valuable biobanks containing thousand of carefully selected and clinically documented bacteria from various geographic locations. This situation provides a favorable environment for translational research with a strong link between clinicians, clinical and research laboratories.
This organization has proven successful in identifying emerging phenomena such as the rise of community- acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus or the identification of new clinical entities such as staphylococcal necrotizing pneumonia caused by Panton-Valentin Leucocidin-producing S. aureus. These clinical questions have been explored at mechanistic levels by some CIRI teams (F Vandenesch), leading to a pathophysiological understanding of the problem and eventually to clinically relevant therapeutic or prophylactic interventions.