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Virus Reference Department (VRD)

Virus Reference Department

Microbiology Services

PHE Colindale

61 Colindale Avenue

London NW9 5HT


Tel: 020 8327 6017
Fax: 020 8205 8195


VRD Director: Professor David Brown 


WHO Collaborating Centre for Laboratory and Diagnostic Support
WHO Designated International Laboratory for SARS

WHO Global Specialised HIV Drug Resistance Laboratory
WHO Global Specialised Laboratory for Measles and Rubella
WHO National Laboratory for Polio and Influenza
WHO National Laboratory for Influenza

Director's foreword

The Virus Reference Department was formed by the merging of the Enteric, Respiratory and Neurological Virus Laboratory and Sexually Transmitted & Blood Borne Virus Laboratory in 2005. VRD provides clinical advice and investigations for a wide range of human and non human primate virus infections. It contains WHO accredited national laboratories for influenza and poliovirus and in addition, is a WHO Global Measles laboratory. Its work embraces both reference functions supporting NHS and public health activity and has particular expertise in detection of sexually transmitted and blood borne viral pathogens and the molecular detection and characterisation of enteric, and respiratory viruses. The department offers a wide range of immunoassays for the assessment of human immune responses to viruses and applied research in those fields and in the spongiform encephalopathies.

The laboratory is fully CPA accredited (CPA 2904) and has a staff of approximately 120. It currently holds over £5 million in externally awarded grants from sources such as MRC, Leukaemia Research Foundation, Meningitis Research Trust, Wellcome Trust, WHO, FSA and several other agencies. VRD has active collaborations with industry in assessment of immune responses to vaccines and natural infection, and a wide range of academic collaborators in Universities nationally and internationally. Each year several staff successfully present PhD theses to university authorities and currently 9 staff are registered for PhDs.

Members of VRD staff sit on a number of national and international panels and provide advice to WHO, FSA, Dept. of Health, European Union as well as to HPA and provide assistance and advice in national and international outbreak investigation.

A complete list of contacts is available in the VRD user manual:

 VRD User Manual (PDF, 489 KB)