South Africa

University of Stellenbosch

Lead scientists: Tulio de Oliveira, Eduan Wilkinson

The Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation’s (CERI) is the first Centre of Excellence on pandemic preparedness in South Africa. CERI’s primary goal is to strengthen Africa’s capacity to quickly identify and control its own epidemics and pandemics before they become a global problem. The vision is to respond effectively to epidemics through pathogen genomic surveillance, enhance biomedical discovery, and improve the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of human diseases in Africa.

The CERI headquarters are located in the School for Data Science & Computational Thinking in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University, while the laboratories are situated at state-of-the art facilities at the Tygerberg Medical Campus. CERI has access to the largest and most advanced laboratories and computer facilities in South Africa, which are used to produce epidemic data for over 20 countries in Africa. CERI maintains close collaborations with the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform (KRISP) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.

CERI is led by Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a specialist virologist and bioinformatics expert who is the also the Director of KRISP. Professor de Oliveira has worked for over 20 years with viral outbreaks, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika, Yellow Fever and, most recently, with SARS-CoV-2. The CERI team also includes a multidisciplinary group of bioinformaticians, computer scientists, laboratory technicians, medical scientists and an infectious disease specialist.

Roles in the COVICS project:
  • Contribution to the General Population Study (WP2)
  • Co-lead of WP5 Genomic and Virological Surveillance (WP5)
  • Full variant virus characterization

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