Access to biological diagnosis

Access to diagnosis for vulnerable populations is the Mérieux Foundation’s main area of intervention. This strategy is based on the reinforcement of clinical biology laboratories in regions that are particularly at risk. As one of the cornerstones of a robust health system, diagnosis lies at the heart of public health and biomedical analysis laboratories play a crucial role in disease detection, patient monitoring, and health surveillance.

A laboratory technician in a blue coat, mask and cap uses a diagnostic machine with blood samples.
Diagnosis of a sample in Madagascar

For more than 20 years now, the Mérieux Foundation has been supporting the reinforcement of biomedical analysis laboratories through collaborations with national and international organizations. In our complex and changing world in which conflicts, epidemics, and population displacement are becoming more commonplace, the Foundation has established a reputation over the years for its expertise in biology and infectious diseases. It makes an active contribution to reinforcing biomedical analysis laboratories as a means of tackling infectious diseases and, more specifically, antimicrobial resistance.

In addition to improving infrastructure and equipment and developing skills, the Foundation also supports health authorities with setting up or improving efficient laboratory systems, helping them to reinforce and optimize the diagnostic services they provide for the population and thus have a direct impact on public health.

This support is provided in four key areas:

  • Infrastructure and equipment
  • Strengthening the skills and expertise of laboratory staff
  • Sustainability of structures
  • Establishment of networks and laboratory systems

In 2023, the political and security situation in several of the areas in which the Mérieux Foundation operates became even more complicated, with some countries becoming difficult to access and requiring a review of operations. To ensure the continuity of its activities, the Foundation relies on a solid network of institutional partners and on the ability of its teams to adapt and fulfill their missions while respecting the security conditions in place.

In 2023, the Mérieux Foundation’s expertise in reinforcing clinical biology laboratories was deployed in more than 40 projects in 22 countries:

  • Infrastructure expertise
  • Virology expertise
  • Bacteriology expertise
  • Educational engineering expertise
  • Quality management system expertise
  • Biosafety and biosecurity expertise
  • Laboratory IT systems expertise
  • Expertise in health surveillance based on laboratories
  • Expertise in laboratory development policies


Improving the availability of healthcare and epidemiological surveillance



Reinforcing the surveillance capacities of the laboratory system

Burkina Faso | Gambia | Mali | Senegal


Regional approach to assessing the risks of hemorrhagic fever



Optimization of the network of diagnostic laboratories



Facilitating patient access to hiv viral load testing

SDG 3 et 4

Fleming Fund Laos

Tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Chad | Guinea | Mali

Global Laboratory Leadership Program (GLLP)

Global program for leadership training in laboratories


LabMyNet II

Diversifying biological diagnosis services

Burkina Faso | Togo


Antimicrobial resistance monitoring

West Africa


Establishment of 40 new epidemiological surveillance centers

West Africa


Supporting a regional network governing biomedical services

Cambodia | Laos | Myanmar


Établir un réseau de laboratoires en Asie du Sud-Est

Applied research

By strengthening research capacities, the Mérieux Foundation supports the development of projects addressing the basic needs of local populations in the countries in which it operates. With this in mind, the Foundation prioritizes operational research relying on the implementation of community programs to benefit the most fragile groups of people.

A laboratory technician wearing a white coat, cap and blue gloves works under a safety hood, handling samples with a pipette.
Handling of a sample at the Charles Mérieux Infectiology Center in Laos

The Mérieux Foundation’s activities for reinforcing research focus on three main public health issues: antimicrobial resistance (AMR), tuberculosis and respiratory infections, as well as emerging pathogens. This work relies in particular on an outstanding network of units located in the heart of the most exposed regions. The GABRIEL network, coordinated by the Mérieux Foundation, plays an increasingly important role in the control and surveillance of epidemics and several of its members have officially been designated “national reference laboratories” in their countries.

The reinforcement of local applied research capacities relies on three pillars of intervention:

  • Strengthening the capacities of the laboratories in the GABRIEL network, in compliance with the most exacting international standards.
  • Training researchers through the organization of courses and conferences focusing on major public health issues.
  • Developing collaborative projects encouraging South-South collaboration.

A collaborative approach

Convinced of the need to act in synergy with the scientific ecosystem engaged in tackling infectious diseases, the Mérieux Foundation is a partner of three research organizations operating in countries with limited resources:

  • The French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) for the introduction of support measures for young researchers and collaborative programs.
  • The Pasteur Network (Réseau International des Instituts Pasteur), including the participation of the Pasteur Center in Cameroon in the implementation of the APRECIT project involving the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar, the Pasteur Center in Cameroon, and the Mérieux Foundation.
  • The SHARENET network for multicentric research projects to identify the main determinants for the emergence and propagation of antimicrobial resistance. This is a network of scientific experts from Cambodia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Laos, Senegal, and Mauritania.

Created in 2008 by the Mérieux Foundation, the GABRIEL network (Global Approach to Biology Research, Infectious diseases, and Epidemics in Low-income countries) is an international scientific network working in synergy to develop research capacities and improve the surveillance of infectious diseases that have a significant impact on public health.

A speaker presents slides at the 12th international meeting of the GABRIEL network, with participants sitting and listening.
Participants at the 12th GABRIEL network international meeting in Yaoundé

The GABRIEL network covers 22 institutions in 16 countries in Africa, South-East Asia, the Middle East, South America, and the Caribbean: nine Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories (whose construction is financed and managed by the Mérieux Foundation before being transferred to local healthcare providers) and academic, university, and hospital research institutes. The Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease in Rio Branco, Brazil, which has its own Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory, joined the network in November 2023. Having played a major role in the diagnosis of Covid-19, teams working at the Center are now developing their work in TB, respiratory infections and hepatitis, in collaboration with the three other Brazilian members of the GABRIEL network.

EVAg consortium

The GABRIEL network is a member of the EVAg (European Virus Archive global) consortium, which collects, characterizes, produces, and distributes viruses and derived products. This platform provides essential resources for the response to epidemics.

GABRIEL network’s key figures

  • 20 20 research projects in progress (7 TB, 4 AMR, 6 ARI, 3 COVID)
  • 77 77 collaborative publications (2012–2022)
  • 1002 1002 scientists trained (57 training sessions through mentoring schemes and 55 training workshops)
  • 10 10 online training modules on epidemiology, clinical research, molecular biology, the diagnosis of arboviruses, and biobanks

New developments in the GABRIEL network in 2023 include:

  • The 12th international meeting of the network organized in Cameroon from May 31 to June 2 (80 participants) on preparing for epidemics: vector-borne diseases, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases, etc.
  • Publication of the results of the collaborative South-South study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the propagation of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Provision of scientific and technical assistance in the field of sequencing, bioinformatics, analysis, and the evaluation of results.
  • The organization of a training week on bioinformatics in Madagascar with Quality Assurance modules delivered to 11 members of the GABRIEL network, within the framework of the ISO 15189 accreditation of medical analysis laboratories.
  • Two new members joined the network: the CICM Brazil in Rio Branco and the INRB in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Funding of PhD research grants

To support young researchers, the Mérieux Foundation encourages the establishment of post-graduate programs within the GABRIEL network by funding PhD research grants (€15,000/year for three years). Four PhD programs are currently underway in Lebanon (Covid-19), Madagascar (HIV/AIDS), Brazil (emerging viruses); and Burkina Faso (TB).

Mérieux Foundation/IRD grants

In 2022, a new grant program was launched between the Foundation and the IRD. The grants support theses carried out in association with an IRD team and for which half of the time was spent in a GABRIEL network laboratory. In 2023, the second call for funding applications resulted in the selection of a new fellow in Burkina Faso (tackling AMR).

Structure and autonomy of the network

Since 2020, attention has increasingly been focused on strengthening local facilities and boosting the autonomy and initiatives of the laboratories. Within this framework, the Foundation helps to structure the GABRIEL network and improve its visibility with partners and funders thanks to:

  • The mapping of expertise associated with priority research topics. In 2023, this expertise was used to create a database (technological platforms, clinical connections, current and past achievements, collaborations, etc.).
  • Support for the submission of projects to help laboratories respond to calls for projects as coordinators or partners in international consortia. In 2023, nine projects were submitted to funders, including the JPI-AMR, the European Union, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CDCs (Centers for Disease Control), etc.
  • The development of collaborative projects in the field of respiratory infections and emerging pathogens. In 2023, two projects (Bangladesh and Brazil) in collaboration with the Christophe Mérieux Laboratory were selected. The first of these projects is a study of the diversity of the respiratory microbiome in acute upper respiratory infections after the Covid-19 pandemic and the epidemic characteristics of respiratory pathogens after the Covid-19 pandemic. The second project is on the identification and evaluation of human biomarkers associated with the clinical severity or the diagnosis of infection with the respiratory syncytial virus.

Collaboration with WANIDA, the West African Network of Infectious Diseases centers of excellence

In 2023, the GABRIEL and WANIDA networks identified their first two areas of collaboration: the organization of shared training and the search for funding for projects involving members of both networks. The GABRIEL network presented its activities at the WANIDA symposium in March 2023 and the WANIDA network participated in the 12th international meeting of the GABRIEL network.

GABRIEL Young Researchers Prize

Created to support the careers of promising young scientists in the network, the Young Researchers Prize was awarded in 2023 to:

  • Clausjeans Chastel Mfoutou Mapanguy from the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research, for his study on “The Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens in the Republic of the Congo”
  • Nono Vanessa Ninkeh from the Pasteur Center in Cameroon for her work on “The prevalence of isoniazide-resistant TB strains”


In partnership with National TB Control Programs, civil society organizations, and research institutes, the Foundation develops studies to improve screening and care for TB patients.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

An increasing threat to public health, putting the prevention and treatment of bacterial diseases at risk, the WHO has a global action plan for tackling antimicrobial resistance, for which the Foundation offers its support in terms of research and surveillance, in accordance with the global One Health strategy.

Acute respiratory infections

Pneumonia (acute lower respiratory) infections are a major public health issue in low-income countries and are the leading cause of infant mortality worldwide. Several research programs are underway within the GABRIEL network: on viral and bacterial co-infection and on the incidence and etiology of pneumonia infections.

SDG 1, 3 & 7AMR
Burkina Faso | Madagascar

AMR data center

Defining strategic monnitoring indicators

SDG 3Tuberculosis
Cameroon | Madagascar


Improving screening for tuberculosis infection

SDG 3Tuberculosis


Diagnosis of pediatric and extra-pulmonary tuberculosis

SDG 3Tuberculosis


Améliorer la prise en charge des patients tuberculeux

SDG 3Tuberculosis


Evaluating a diagnostic test using breath samples

SDG 3Acute respiratory infections


Prevention of sars-cov-2 in a huminatarian crisis

SDG 3, 4 & 17AMR
Bangladesh, Brazil & Paraguay

Multidrug-resistant enterobacteriaceae

Study of pet-to-human transmission

7 countries


Reducing the nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2



One Health AMR surveillance

Knowledge sharing

Transferring expertise across national borders and disciplines is one of the Mérieux Foundation’s key missions. This commitment acknowledges the absolute necessity of sharing knowledge so that together we can take effective action adapted to the needs of countries with limited resources.

A man sitting at a table, speaking into a microphone during a class, with a whiteboard in the background and participants.
Participants during the Advanced Course on Diagnostics in Africa (Afro-ACDx) in Senegal

Knowledge sharing has long been a cornerstone of the Mérieux Foundation’s commitment. It means promoting exchanges, training, and collaboration in order to make progress in tackling infectious diseases. This activity involves all the departments and areas of intervention of the Mérieux Foundation and is based on international, interdisciplinary cooperation prioritizing six main themes: vaccinology, diagnostics, infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, cholera, and rabies.

The resumption of activities following the pandemic continued in 2023, with face-to-face knowledge sharing reaching the same levels as before the health crisis. The portfolio of training courses was expanded with the launch of Epi-course, an advanced course on epidemiology to help experts deal with complex emergency situations in the field. The Mérieux Foundation now offers five intensive training programs for health professionals and representatives of public authorities in charge of developing and implementing public health policies.

Knowledge sharing activities rely on the Les Pensières Center for Global Health, owned by the Foundation, which continues to build on its international reputation in global health. In 2023, 200 events were hosted at the Les Pensières Center, bringing together a total of more than 8,000 people. These included the Foundation’s advanced courses, McMaster University’s course on antimicrobial resistance, the EUROPIT course on the pituitary gland, and the Merck course on vaccinology. The Center also hosted several international conferences, including GTFCC meetings on cholera, a conference on the Global Leadership Laboratory Program (GLLP), the Aspen Europe-Africa conference, and seminars on HIV/Aids.

Participants applaud during a conference in a room at the Center des Pensières, with a large portrait on the wall and laptops on the tables.

Les Pensières Center for Global Health

Les Pensières is an international public health center situated beside Lake Annecy in France, with expertise based on over 40 years’ experience in dialog and a commitment to tackling infectious diseases at a global level. Designed as a space for sharing and reviewing knowledge, it provides the ideal working environment for health organizations, associations, and institutions sharing the same values as the Mérieux Foundation (with conference rooms, catering facilities, and accommodation). On a local level, it also plays an important role in raising awareness of key social and environmental issues.

Advanced training courses

In 2023, the Mérieux Foundation launched its fifth intensive training course. This course on epidemiology is in addition to the existing courses on vaccination (ADVAC), diagnostics (ACDx), and antimicrobial resistance (AMR), each of which is organized every year at the Les Pensières Center for Global Health. The Afro-ACDx course, which is a French-speaking version of ACDx and also includes some GLLP modules, is aimed at French-speaking African professionals and is held in Senegal. This local involvement reflects the Foundation’s desire to adapt to different contexts and its ability to relocate a training activity to meet learners’ needs in the best possible way.

As well as formal learning, these training courses also offer a platform for making contacts and creating networks of alumni, so that participants can establish valuable and long-lasting professional relations.

Public health initiatives

The Mérieux Foundation contributes to several global public health initiatives. By combining complementary areas of expertise, optimizing resources, and creating synergies, these partnerships play an essential role in the fight against infectious diseases. They also make it possible to include issues affecting countries with limited resources in major international initiatives.

SDG 17
Advanced course

12th edition of the ACDx course

Advanced course on diagnostics

SDG 17
Advanced course

23rd edition of the ADVAC course

Advanced course on vaccinology

SDG 17
Advanced course

3rd edition of the Afro-ACDx course

Advanced course on diagnostics in French-speaking Africa

SDG 17
Advanced course

4th edition of the AMR course  

Course on antimicrobial resistance – a One Health challenge

SDG 3 & 17
Public health initiative

Controlling rabies

MERACON regional network for rabies control

SDG 17
Public health initiative

Global partnership to fight cholera 

Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC)

SDG 17
Advanced course

Launch of the Epi-course 

Advanced course on epidemiology in complex emergency situations

SDG 17
Public health initiative

Prevention and control of dengue

Asia Dengue Voice & Action (ADVA)

SDG 17
Public health initiative

Reinforcing trust in vaccines 

The Vaccine Acceptance Initiative

SDG 3 & 17
Public health initiative

Supporting vaccine policies

SDG 17
Public health initiative

Tackling pneumonia  

Campaign with the Every Breath Counts coalition

Mothers & children

The Mérieux Foundation supports projects to help the most disadvantaged populations, especially women and children, who are the primary victims in crisis situations. This commitment covers their basic human needs as part of a global health approach.

Two women sitting side by side in a waiting room, each holding a sleeping child in their arms, with other people in the background.
In the waiting room of Kindia Hospital, Guinea

In situations of insecurity or severe poverty, the Mérieux Foundation is committed to supporting local partners as they improve the living conditions of fragile populations. These projects cover access to healthcare, education, and basic needs such as hygiene, food, and housing.

The Foundation’s commitment covers two types of intervention:

  • Support for associations working in the field with long-running partnerships such as with Akamasoa in Madagascar and Enfants du Mékong in Cambodia.
  • The development of new projects, with operations run by the Mérieux Foundation and its teams, resulting primarily in the establishment of primary health centers and maternity units, such as in Lebanon where a second health center is currently under construction. The Mérieux Foundation also responds to emergency situations in the event of conflicts or natural disasters.

Improving access to healthcare for vulnerable people

The Mérieux Foundation provides its expertise directly in the field to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable communities, as part of a global healthcare approach covering physical, mental, and social health. Several community health centers have thus been built or renovated thanks to the support and expertise of the Foundation working alongside local health authorities.

Distributive projects in favor of partners in the field

Within the framework of historic partnerships or one-off actions in response to emergency situations, the Mérieux Foundation finances projects run by local associations to improve living conditions in the poorest communities.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Construction of a maternity unit in Brazzaville


Construction of a primary health center in Baalbek

SDG 2, 3 & 4
Burkina Faso | Mali | Senegal

Contributing to the development of Samusocial

SDG 3 & 5

Development of a mother & child center in Thiadiaye


Increased capacity of the Duris health center

SDG 1, 2, 3 & 4

Small Grants 2023

SDG 3, 4 & 8
Burkina Faso

Support for orphans with the Go Paga association


Support for the actions Santé Femmes Association

SDG 1, 3 & 4

Support for the enfants du Mékong association

SDG 1, 3 & 4

Support for the microcredit activities of GHESKIO centers


Support for the saint Gabriel de Conakry clinic


Tackling poverty with Akamasoa