P4 Jean Mérieux-Inserm Laboratory

In this BSL4 laboratory the Ebola virus responsible for the epidemic was first confirmed and characterized in March, 2014.


Created by the Mérieux Foundation in 1999, and placed under Inserm’s responsibility in 2005, the P4 Jean Mérieux-Inserm Laboratory in Lyon is a high-security unit exclusively focused on class 4 pathogen research. There are only about 40 such laboratories operating in the world, mostly in the United States. It is the only BSL4 laboratory in operation in France today.

Detecting the most dangerous pathogens

The P4 Jean Mérieux-Inserm Laboratory is an essential component in the fight against the most virulent infectious diseases.

It was in this laboratory that the strain of the Ebola virus responsible for the outbreak in West Africa was first identified and characterized by the Pasteur Institute of Lyon in March 2014.

The Mérieux Foundation set up a procedure for the urgent transport of samples taken in Africa to the BSL4 laboratory in Lyon. This enabled local authorities without the resources to perform screening to pinpoint infectious hotspots, a key step in preventing the spread of highly contagious pathogens.

The procedure for safe sample transport was established with RESAOLAB, the Pasteur Institute, Inserm and Bioport.