Access to diagnostics
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory was built by the Mérieux Foundation, in 2011, at Saint Joseph University of Beirut. It aims to fight infectious diseases and epidemics for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations.
It is part of Saint Joseph University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, located on the Innovation and Sports Campus. The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory is 400 m2 and equipped with an infrastructure that meets international biosafety and biosecurity level 3 standards. It has two biosafety level 3 (BSL3) laboratories and offers comprehensive expertise for the detection of mycobacteria and other pathogens.
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory team is comprised of its director, Prof. Marianne Abi Fadel, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy of Saint Joseph University, Prof. Hermine Aydénian, laboratory advisor, Dr. Marianne Antar, biologist in charge of the laboratory and Dr. Josette Najjar from the Mérieux Foundation.
To develop the expertise of the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory’s staff and support the National Tuberculosis Program, the Mérieux Foundation organized several training courses in 2018, in collaboration with Saint Joseph University’s Faculty of Pharmacy. The courses focused on diagnostic testing for tuberculosis:
- diagnostic testing methods for tuberculosis in confined environments such as BSL3
- diagnostic tools for pulmonary and extra pulmonary tuberculosis
- standard laboratory procedures (SOPs) including packaging, labelling and transport of samples and on slide staining and standardized data entry method – with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory is now the national reference laboratory for the fight against tuberculosis. (Ministry of Health – Circular issued June 11, 2019)
Enhancing research capabilities
The Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory is open to scientists from several institutes in Lebanon and the region. We support applied research conducted in close collaboration with a number of partners
HINTT – Improving tuberculosis treatment follow up
The objective of the HINTT study, “HBHA-IGRA as a New Tool for TB diagnosis”, is to evaluate a new approach to monitoring tuberculosis treatment to improve tuberculosis patient care and limit the spread of the bacteria in the community.
The main activities carried out so far are:
- implementing the multicenter research project to validate biomarkers for monitoring the effectiveness of tuberculosis treatment
- identifying the centers participating in the study
- training the local team in protocol techniques
This study is being carried out in partnership with Lebanese University and the National Tuberculosis Program. To date, about ten cases have been included in the study.
Optimizing the screening strategy for latent TB infection
To contribute to the development of national recommendations for targeted screening and management of latent tuberculosis infection, a first study will be carried out in a partnership between Saint Joseph University of Beirut, the National Tuberculosis Program of Lebanon, the Mérieux Foundation, and several partners. The study will analyze different groups using the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold Plus diagnostic test. It will make it possible to estimate the prevalence of latent tuberculosis infection in Lebanon.
PEARL – Understanding the causes of community pneumonia
The PEARL (Pneumonias’ Etiology Among Refugees and Lebanese population) study was launched in Lebanon in 2016 to assess the proportions and distribution of community pneumonia attributable to different viral and bacterial pathogens among refugee and Lebanese populations in order to establish an evidence base for epidemiological risk assessment, design public health interventions and develop effective treatment protocols.
Co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the PEARL study is the first to systematically establish the prevalence and role of pathogenic microorganisms in the respiratory tract during a humanitarian crisis. The study was conducted from 2016 to 2019 with the aim of providing recommendations for prevention and treatment interventions to protect this vulnerable population.
Find out more about PEARL
The Mérieux Foundation encourages knowledge sharing by organizing meetings and conferences:
- In 2017, MENA IDPH: Regional conference on Infectious Diseases and Public Health in the Middle East and North Africa Region in Beirut, co-organized by the Mérieux Foundation, ESCMID, Lancet Infectious Diseases and ESA, in partnership with the Lebanese Society of Infectious Diseases (LSID)
- In 2018, the 7th International Congress of Saint-Joseph University of Beirut’s Faculty of Pharmacy, addressing the theme, “The pharmacist at the heart of therapeutic and humanitarian challenges”. It took place in April 2018, under the patronage of the Ministry of Health.
- In 2019, the 10th international meeting of the GABRIEL research network was held in Lebanon and organized jointly with our two partners, Saint Joseph University and Lebanese University. A symposium day dedicated to Hot Topics in Infectious Diseases offered a forum for a wide audience of local and regional scientists and healthcare professionals, with more than 100 participants, including 70 members of the GABRIEL network
Support for mothers and children
Construction of a health center in Duris
As a country, Lebanon hosts one of the largest populations of Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war in their home country. The Mérieux Foundation has built a health center for mothers and children in the vulnerable host population and refugees in the Bekaa plain. The center was made possible by funding from the Department of International Cooperation of the Prince’s Government of Monaco and Fondation Christophe et Rodolphe Mérieux.
The center, managed by the Lebanese NGO Amel Association, will provide medical care for women and children and include pediatric, gynecology and obstetrics units. It will also offer health education and information on social issues for families. The project is supported by the Lebanese Ministry of Health, the Baalbeck-Hermel Governorate and the municipality of Douris, which provided the land for the center.
The center was inaugurated in June, 2019, and will open its doors in the fall of 2019.
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