Fields of activity

Access to biological diagnosis

For almost 20 years now, the Mérieux Foundation has been supporting clinical biology laboratories, helping them to reinforce their capacities for biological diagnosis and surveillance in countries with limited resources, which are particularly exposed to infectious diseases and threats of epidemics.

Access to biological diagnosis for vulnerable groups of people is the main focus of the Mérieux Foundation’s work and involves setting up high-quality laboratories, which are involved in monitoring infectious diseases and in tackling antimicrobial resistance. Since 2020, the laboratories supported by the Mérieux Foundation have been actively supporting the efforts required for the diagnosis, monitoring, and control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

From the design of structures to the introduction of laboratory systems

Known for its expertise in the field of biological diagnosis, the Mérieux Foundation works with national and international organizations, both in the private and public sector, to design high-level laboratories that fulfil international biosecurity standards. As well as setting up infrastructure and developing skills, the Foundation also provides management consultancy with the aim of improving the laboratories’ financial autonomy. It also works alongside national health authorities to contribute towards the construction of laboratory systems to maximize the impact of laboratory activities on public health.

Since 2020, significant emergency funds for dealing with Covid-19 allocated by many of the Foundation’s partners have led to the general reinforcement of diagnosis capacities.

2021 was a year marked by health restrictions and the deteriorating political situation in many of the countries in which the Foundation operates, including Myanmar, Lebanon, Guinea, and Haiti. Teams working for the Foundation demonstrated a high level of responsiveness, allowing them to adapt their actions in the field and continue to support local players in contexts that had deteriorated considerably.

Quality Initiative, 9 laboratory members in 2021

Launched in 2014, the Mérieux Foundation’s Quality Initiative is a program providing support for Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories that are members of the GABRIEL network to adopt a quality management system (international ISO 15189:2012 standard). In 2021, the third quality management MOOC edition – Massive Open Online Course – organized by the Mérieux Foundation in partnership with AFNOR and the Institut Pasteur brought together more than 4,000 participants from 97 countries.

The actions of the Mérieux Foundation over the past 20 years

  • 86 laboratories, 4 health centers and 23 training centers built or renovated
  • 4 mobile laboratories made available
  • 40 consultancy assignments for partners including the WHO, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and malaria

© Martin Grosjean

Access to biological diagnosis

Main biological diagnosis projects 2021

Laos and Cambodia


Monitoring antimicrobial resistance


Fleming Fund Laos

Fighting antimicrobial resistance



Improving HIV diagnosis



Improving the resilience of laboratories involved in diagnosing COVID-19



Creating a network of rural laboratories



Defining a national medical biology policy

West Africa


Creating a network for epidemiological surveillance

West Africa

LabBook 3.0

Laboratory data management software



Developing the national network of laboratories



Improving health services

Fields of activity

Applied research

The Mérieux Foundation supports the upgrading of applied research laboratories, which is essential for implementing public health initiatives to comply with national priorities.

The Mérieux Foundation supports and encourages applied research programs in developing countries through collaborations with public and private research institutes on an international or local scale. The Medical and Scientific Department of the Foundation runs the GABRIEL network of outstanding laboratories located in infectious disease hotspots, with many members having been named as reference laboratories in their countries. They have been playing a key role in the control and surveillance of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.

With the health crisis still causing significant disruption, the research projects carried out in 2021 address remaining needs and focus on the major public health issues affecting members of the GABRIEL network (antimicrobial resistance, tuberculosis, respiratory infections, and emerging pathogens).

Research to benefit the most vulnerable people

The Mérieux Foundation’s scientific strategy prioritizes research work in line with continuing its work on improving access to diagnosis and which directly benefits vulnerable populations in developing countries.

These activities are based on two main cornerstones:

  • Strengthening research capacities by developing collaborative studies and training programs, supporting young researchers and South/South projects.
  • Organizing courses and conferences and encouraging major international players to get involved in public health issues.

The Foundation encourages the development of integrated programs drawing on a wide range of expertise in the field of diagnosis, research, knowledge sharing and community support. In 2021, efforts were focused on the reinforcement of epidemiological surveillance. A project for monitoring variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus enabled five structures in the GABRIEL network to identify variants circulating in their countries and to provide guidance for decision-makers.

Enhanced medical and scientific management

In 2021, the Foundation brought in new internal expertise with the appointment of a medical and healthcare adviser, a clinical research officer, and a partnerships and advocacy manager. The collaboration with three outstanding academic laboratories that had begun in 2020 was further expanded. Several scientists working for these structures were involved in the GABRIEL network in 2021, participating in leadership, training, and planning initiatives to strengthen the expertise and international visibility of the network. Several collaborative projects in the field were also launched with these teams in the areas of tuberculosis and antimicrobial resistance.

At the same time, the Foundation also renewed several partnerships with international research institutions active in French-speaking countries with limited resources:

  • Signature of a framework agreement with the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in July 2021 for the introduction of support measures for young researchers and collaborative programs.
  • Continuation of the collaboration with the Pasteur Network (Réseau International des Instituts Pasteur), including participation by the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun in two GABRIEL network projects and the implementation of the APRECIT project involving the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar, the Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, and the Mérieux Foundation.
  • Participation in the AVIESAN network (French National Alliance for Life Sciences and Health) with a research project into antimicrobial resistance in partnership with scientists in Cambodia, Ivory coast, Madagascar, and Burkina Faso.

Academic collaborations

The Mérieux Foundation has been a partner of three academic research teams since 2020. These collaborations aim to capitalize on synergies in terms of expertise, in order to optimize the relevance of programs and their impact on the health of populations.

  • Antimicrobial resistance: team led by Jean-Yves Madec at ANSES (French national agency for food, the environment and work), a reference laboratory for the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) and the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health).
  • Tuberculosis: team led by Oana Dumitrescu and Florence Ader from the Hospices Civils de Lyon, with expertise in basic, translational and clinical research recognized by the international scientific community.
  • Respiratory infections: team led by Manuel Rosa-Calatrava and Bruno Lina from the VirPath laboratory (Université Claude Bernard, Lyon), a team linked to the main national center for respiratory viruses with a reputation for its pathophysiological and clinical research into respiratory infections and the analysis of new antivirals research.

New international Scientific Advisory Board

The Mérieux Foundation reappointed its Scientific Advisory Board in 2021: twelve people were appointed for a three-year term, under the presidency of Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a virologist specializing in public health and director of research director at INSERM. The International Scientific Committee supports the Mérieux Foundation’s strategy in the pursuit of its public health initiatives. In keeping with its values, the Foundation has appointed an international committee based on equal representation and rich in expertise thanks to its members, who come from various countries and sectors of activity.

© Martin Grosjean

Applied research

GABRIEL network

The Foundation’s scientific and medical activities rely on the international GABRIEL network (Global Approach to Biology Research, Infectious diseases, and Epidemics in Low-income countries), composed of outstanding laboratories in developing countries.

Boosting local facilities and the autonomy of network members

The GABRIEL network helps to improve research into infectious diseases by setting up collaborative studies, introducing training programs and sharing experience and technologies. Since 2020, attention has increasingly been focused on strengthening local facilities and boosting the autonomy and initiatives of member laboratories of the network.

The GABRIEL network has 20 members in 15 countries across four continents: eight Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratories (set up by the Mérieux Foundation with support from the Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux and handed over to local entities), plus public and private academic research institutes at universities and hospitals. In 2021, the National Biomedical Research Institute in Goma (Democratic Republic of the Congo) joined the network, bringing in the expertise of its teams in Kinshasa and those of the Rodolphe Mérieux laboratory in Goma, which opened in July 2020. These structures are heavily involved in the diagnosis and surveillance of emerging pathogens.

In 2021, the international meeting of the GABRIEL network was organized at the Les Pensières conference center. More than 50 scientists attended in person and 30 joined the event online. After the first day, which was devoted entirely to the Covid-19 pandemic, the participants presented their research results. The Foundation awarded two “GABRIEL prizes for young researchers”, which were introduced in 2017 to help promising young scientists in the network. In 2021, the prizes were awarded to Rim Bayaa (Lebanon) and Tiavina Rasolofoarison (Madagascar).

Encouraging collaboration within laboratory networks

A call for collaborative projects was launched in 2020 to support the structuring of the GABRIEL network around three priority areas of research (respiratory infections, antimicrobial resistance, and tuberculosis) and to capitalize on the Foundation’s research and diagnosis skills. The selection criteria included the involvement of at least three members of the GABRIEL network and of RESAOLAB, the West African network of biomedical analysis laboratories also led by the Mérieux Foundation. The selected projects are awarded seed funding of €60,000.

Five applications were submitted and assessed by a jury of experts. Two projects were approved and launched in 2021:

  • The COV-AMR project, a multicentric study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the spread of antimicrobial resistance through wastewater in Cameroon, Brazil and Madagascar.
  • The Phegenhore-BLC project on the characterization of resistant strains of tuberculosis in clinical isolates in Bangladesh, Cameroon and Lebanon.

The GABRIEL network in figures

  • 15 research projects in progress (4 TB, 3 AMR, 2 ARI, 6 COVID-19)
  • 59 collaborative publications (2012 – 2021)
  • 960 scientists trained (57 training sessions through mentoring schemes and 52 training workshops)
  • 10 online training modules on epidemiology, clinical research, molecular biology, the diagnosis of arboviruses, and biobanks

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.

Funding of PhD research grants

For the third year in succession, the Mérieux Foundation launched a call for funding applications for PhD research grants within the GABRIEL network (€15,000/year for three years). In 2021, the grant was awarded to Fetra Angelot Rakotomalala from the Charles Mérieux Center for Infectious Disease in Antananarivo. His PhD thesis is on HIV/AIDS infection in Madagascar.

© Martin Grosjean

Applied research

Main applied research projects 2021


APRECIT – Cameroon & Madagascar

Screening of latent tuberculosis


HINTT - Multiple countries

Evaluation of diagnosis and monitoring tools

Acute respiratory infections

NOSO-COR project – Multiple countries

Prevention of nosocomial transmission of COVID-19

Acute respiratory infections

FDP-COVID19 – Bangladesh

Study of sars-cov-2 transmission

Antimicrobial resistance

Fleming Fund Fellowship – Senegal

Training and study of antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance

TRIuMPH – Madagascar

Monitoring antimicrobial resistance

Fields of activity

Knowledge sharing

Sharing knowledge across national borders and disciplines has always been a cornerstone of the Foundation’s commitment to developing countries, allowing scientific progress and advancements in public health to benefit as many people as possible.

Knowledge sharing is part of the Mérieux Foundation’s DNA and is a principle that governs all its activities. The Foundation is committed to developing skills and collaboration between countries and disciplines through advanced training courses, themed training sessions, international conferences, and public health initiatives. These cover several strategic priorities, including vaccinology, diagnosis, infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance, cholera, and rabies.

Since 2020, the health crisis has led to the emergence of new forms of remote communication, which have allowed the Foundation to maintain high-quality relations using digital solutions. This dialog is more essential than ever in a period of epidemic alert, with an increased requirement for coordination between the parties involved in healthcare.

In 2021, in-person events at the Les Pensières Conference Center were hampered by the health crisis and activities only started up again in May, with the organization of hybrid events combining on-site presence with the possibility of joining meetings online. Throughout the second half of the year, the Center recovered its international influence, with a total of more than 4,000 people attending 130 events at Les Pensières. These included advanced ADVAC and AMR courses, the ICARe course on resistance to antibiotics organized by McMaster University in Canada, the course on infectious diseases organized by the Société de Pathologie Infectieuse de Langue Française (French Infectious Diseases Society), a meeting of the young Inserm prize winners, and the 17th Aspen Institute Europe-Africa summit.

Knowledge sharing has therefore undergone a profound change, reflecting the advantages of digital events, as well as the need to maintain meetings held in person.

Advanced training courses

The three advanced training courses offered by the Mérieux Foundation, on vaccinologys (ADVAC), diagnostics (ACDx), and resistance to antibiotics (AMR), were cancelled in 2020 and postponed to 2021. In the end, it was not possible to reorganize all of them in 2021. However, in each case, events were organized to maintain the connection and support networks of international experts. The Foundation and its partners capitalized even more this year on the opportunities provided by technology to make up for the lack of in-person meetings due to the health crisis.

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.

Other scientific conferences

In partnership with a network of international experts, the Mérieux Foundation organizes scientific conferences attended by various health stakeholders to explore major topics of scientific and medical interest. Since 2020, these conferences have been held in the form of online webinars or hybrid events.

Les Pensières Center for Global Health

Les Pensières is an international public health center situated beside Lake Annecy, with expertise based on over 40 years’ experience in dialog and a commitment to tackle infectious diseases, and in global health and public interest more broadly. 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 and seminar rooms, catering facilities, and accommodation). Since the COVID-19 crisis, the Center has been equipped with the latest technology and a high-performance video conferencing system so that conferences can be held in-person or in a hybrid or digital format.
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Courses, conferences and initiatives

Advanced training course

ACDx course

Advanced course on diagnostics

Advanced training course


Advanced course on diagnostics for french-speaking african countries

Advanced training course

ADVAC course

Advanced course on vaccinology

Advanced training course

AMR course

Course on antimicrobial resistance

Public health initiatives

Global partnership to fight cholera

Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC)

Public health initiatives

Acceptance of vaccination

Vaccine acceptance initiative

Public health initiatives

Controlling rabies

Public health initiatives

Combating the Zika virus

ZikaPLAN : Zika Preparedness Latin American Network

Public health initiatives

Coordination of research on infectious diseases

GloPID-R: Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness

Other scientific conferences

Mekong Hepatitis Symposium

Conference on viral hepatitis in south-east Asia

Other scientific conferences

Asia Dengue Voice and Action task force (ADVA)

Fields of activity

Mother & child programs

The Mérieux Foundation is committed to supporting the health and well-being of particularly vulnerable groups, especially women and children, who are the primary victims of crises and insecurity. This commitment covers their basic human needs as part of a global health approach.

Since progress in healthcare is closely linked with living conditions, the Mérieux Foundation supports local humanitarian projects helping poor communities. These projects help to restore the dignity of marginalized groups of people through access to healthcare, education, and basic living requirements such as food and hygiene.

In 2021, this intervention strategy benefited 23 local associations, 11 of which are in geographical areas defined as priority zones by the WHO, such as Haiti, Madagascar, and Cambodia. These associations in the field, most of which are historic partners of the Foundation, rely on their local facilities and knowledge to develop programs to fulfil the requirements of these territories. Many campaigns are aimed at children and young people, who make a major contribution within their communities to the understanding and spread of a culture of infectious disease prevention.

Two Mother & Child community health centers have been built with the support of the Mérieux Foundation since 2020. These centers are the perfect representation of the global health approach, offering physical, mental, and social health services, which could be replicated in other countries with similar needs.

These activities are mainly funded by the Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux as part of the close partnership between the two foundations.


Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux

The Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux is an independent family foundation created in 2001 under the aegis of the Institut de France. It devotes most of its resources to funding projects in the field. It draws on the expertise and human resources of the Mérieux Foundation for the operational implementation of its projects.

Mother & child programs

Main mother & child projects 2021


Development of health and hygiene education kits

Health education


Opening of a nutritional supplements production unit

Fighting malnutrition


Construction of a university campus with the Akamasoa association

Access to education


Inauguration of a new maternity unit and renovation of a health center

Access to healthcare

Mali - Senegal - Burkina Faso

Reinforced partnership with Samusocial

Access to healthcare


Increased capacity of the Duris health center

Access to healthcare


Support for the enfants du Mékong association

Access to education and healthcare


Support for vulnerable women and victims of gender-based violence

Social and professional inclusion


Small Grants 2021

Small Grants Program