Université de Genève

Lead scientists: Laurent Kaiser, Isabella Eckerle, Samuel Cordey, Pauline Vetter, Manuel Schibler

The Université de Genève (UniGe), in Switzerland is a public non-profit research institution with links to the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), which has teaching and research as its primary objectives. Together with the HUG, it runs the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, with several reference laboratories attached (National reference laboratories for Influenza, emerging viruses, measles, mumps, rubella and a WHO reference laboratory for COVID19 testing) under the direction of Prof. Laurent Kaiser, MD.

The Centre is highly involved since the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in research on development and validation of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics; immunological/viral shedding/virus isolation studies, epidemiological serological studies as well as studies on neutralizing antibodies, creation of a SARS-CoV-2 biobank, and molecular as well as phenotypic characterization of variants of concern. Research of the Centre is funded, among others, by Swiss National Foundation and the European Union. The Centre is also partner in the H2020 project ECRAID Base.

Most importantly, the National reference laboratory for emerging viruses (CRIVE, funded by HUG and FOPH) together with the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases, coordinates the Swiss national genomic surveillance program. This program continuously collects representative subsets of SARS-CoV-2 samples for weekly sequence analysis and isolation, with proper coverage of regions and demography (age categories, socio-economic environment), as well as infection seriousness (from asymptomatic to hospitalized individuals), and/or immune status (vaccinated, unvaccinated, immunosuppressed) with intensified focal coverage in cases of suspicious clusters, evidence of local emergence of new strains, etc.

Altogether, this program has produced 70,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences for Switzerland since the beginning of 2021.

Roles in the COVICS project:
  • Co-lead of WP2 General Population Studies with specific contribution as the coordinator of the Swiss national surveillance program
  • Contribution to genomic and virological surveillance (WP5)

CoVICIS is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme under grant nr 101046041