Emergencies preparedness, response

WHO collaborative multi-centre research project on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) diagnosis

Identification of the SARS causative agent and the development of a diagnostic test are of paramount importance. Detection of disease in its early stage, understanding its pathways of transmission and implementing disease specific prevention measures are dependent upon swift progress and results in aetiological and diagnostic research.

On 17 March 2003, WHO called upon 11 laboratories in 9 countries to join a collaborative multi-center research project on SARS diagnosis. This network takes advantage of modern communication technologies (e-mail; secure web site) to share outcomes of investigation of clinical samples from SARS cases in real time. Daily assessment of research results supports immediate refinement of investigative strategies and permits instant validation of laboratory findings. Network members share on the secure WHO web site electron microscopic pictures of viruses, sequences of genetic material for virus identification and characterization, virus isolates, various samples from patients and post-mortem tissues. Samples from one and the same patient can be analysed in parallel in several laboratories and results shared in real time. This network joins the intellectual resources of leading laboratories worldwide for a common goal: the detection of the SARS agent and the development of a diagnostic test.

WHO initiated the establishment of this network. It functions because of the extraordinary willingness for collaboration of its members who should be given full credit for the achievement of this network.

Network members:

  • Bernhard Nocht Institut for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg
    Bernhard-Nocht-Str. 74
    Hamburg, D-20359
    (in collaboration with the Institutes for Virology, University Frankfurt and University Marburg)

  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
    National Centers for Infectious Diseases
    1600 Clifton Road, Mailstop G16
    Bldg 7, Room 111
    Atlanta, Georgia 30333
    United States

  • Erasmus Universiteit, National Influenza Centre
    Dr Molewaterplein 50, P. O. Box 1738
    3000 DR Rotterdam
    The Netherlands
    for more information

  • Government Virus Unit
    9/F Public Health Laboratory Centre
    382 Nam Cheong Street
    Shek Kip Mei
    Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

  • Guangdong Center for Disease Control & Prevention
    176 West Xingang Road
    Guangzhou 510300

  • Institut Pasteur
    Head of Unit, Unité de Génétique Moléculaire des Virus Respiratoires
    National Influenza Center (Northern-France),
    25 rue du Docteur Roux
    Cedex 15 F-75724 Paris

  • National Institute of Infectious Diseases
    Department of Viral Diseases and Vaccine Control
    Gakuen 4-7-1
    JP-208 0011
    for more information

  • National Microbiology Laboratory
    Population Pubic Health Branch
    Health Canada
    1015 Arlington Street
    Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3R2

  • Public Health Laboratory Service
    Central Public Health Laboratory
    61 Colindale Avenue
    London NW9 5HT
    United Kingdom

  • University of Hong Kong Faculty of Medicine
    University Pathology Building
    Queen Mary Hospital
    Hong Kong SAR

  • Virological Institute
    Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention
    Yinxin Road 100
    Beijing 100052

  • Virology Laboratory
    Department of Microbiology
    Faculty of Medicine
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Prince of Wales Hospital
    Shatin, Hong Kong SAR

  • Virology Unit
    Singapore General Hospital
    Outram Road
    169 608