Pan-African Network For Rapid Research, Response, Relief and Preparedness for Infectious Disease Epidemics


Professor Francine Ntoumi, Fondation Congolaise pour la Recherche Médicale, Congo
Professor Alimuddin Zumla, University College London, UK and UNZA-UCLMSZambia
Professor Giuseppe Ippolito, National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, Italy


14 African institution from all geographical regions in Africa (West, Central, East and Southern Regions)

West Africa

  • Mercy Hospital Research Laboratory – Sierra Leone
  • University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
  • Noguchi Memorial institute, Accra, Ghana
  • Irrua Specialist teaching Hospital, Nigeria
  • Center for Diseases Control, Nigeria

East Africa

  • Institute of Endemic Diseases,
  • University of Khartoum, Sudan
  • Uganda National Health Research Organisation(UNHRO), Uganda
  • Ifakara Health Institute Trust (IHI), Tanzania
  • National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) Tanzania

Central Africa

  • Centre de Researches Medicales de Lambarene, Gabon
  • Foundation Congolese pour la Recherche Médicale, Congo

Southern Africa


New and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks, continue to cause much human suffering and loss of life worldwide. Many new and re-emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, (diseases transmitted from animals to humans). The Central and East African region is particularly vulnerable to spill over of pathogens from wild animals since it harbours two rich ecological systems with high animal and human interactions, the Rift Valley and Congo Basin. Since Africa has experienced repeated outbreaks of zoonotic infections, an important need exists to improve capacities to identify and respond to zoonotic outbreaks. A more inclusive and strategic partnership across the human and animal health sectors is required if we are to be able to address emergent zoonotic threats effectively. Many infections with epidemic potential require completely different approaches to bringing the epidemic under control. Our PANDORA-ID-NET consortium partners’ ongoing work is focussed on pathogens with pandemic potential such as, Ebola virus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERSCoV), influenza viruses], Rift Valley fever virus, Arboviral infections, Lujo virus, multi-drug-resistant TB, and pan-antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, among others. In light of the Ebola epidemic in west Africa and concerns over MERS-CoV spreading to sub-Saharan African countries, we have emphasized the urgent need for building sustainable rapid diagnostics laboratory capacities, and establishment of an multidisciplinary consortium which is able to provide accelerated research evidence for the optimal clinical management of patients, and for guiding an effective public health response to any severe infectious outbreak. Our ‘human-animal’ ONE HEALTH consortium are using our ethos and track record of building equitable Africa-Europe R&D partnerships, to build effective epidemic outbreak response capacities, aligned closely to research and training, across all geographical regions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Overall Aims

Our overall objective is to strengthen, regional and pan-African capacities and systems for enabling rapid and effective response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases threats arising from within Africa, or those imported from overseasWe aim to build laboratory, public health and clinical trials capacity for the rapid investigation of outbreaks at source. Laboratory systems will be made capable of safely and accurately detecting all pathogens with minimal biohazard risk. Capacities will also be built to perform multi-site clinical trials (evaluating rapid diagnostics, biomarkers, a range of treatments, vaccines and operational research studies) in response to emerging infectious diseases threats. This will include obtaining accelerated evidence for optimal clinical management of patients, infection control measures, surveillance, public health response and vector control programs, during outbreaks caused by pathogens (including antimicrobial-resistant pathogens) with epidemic potential. 

Selected Publications

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  1. Zumla A, Dar O, Kock R, Muturi M, Ntoumi F, Kaleebu P, Eusebio M, Mfinanga S, Bates M, Mwaba P, Ansumana R, Khan M, Alagaili AN, Cotten M, Azhar EI, Maeurer M, Ippolito G, Petersen E. Taking forward a ‘ONE HEALTH’ approach for turning the tide against The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and other zoonotic pathogens with epidemic potential. International Journal of infectious diseases. 2016 Jun 47:5-9.
  2. Zumla A, Rustomjee R, Ntoumi F, Mwaba P, Bates M, Maeurer M, Hui DS, Petersen E. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – need for increased vigilance and watchful surveillance for MERS-CoV in sub-Saharan Africa. International journal of infectious diseases 2015;37:77-9.43.
  3. Zumla A, Mwaba P, Bates M, Al-Tawfiq JA, Maeurer M, Memish ZA. The Hajj pilgrimage and surveillance for Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus in pilgrims from African countries. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 2014. 19(7):838-40.
  4. Zumla A, Hui DS, Perlman S. State of the ART Seminar: Middle East respiratory syndrome. The Lancet.2015. Sep 5;386(9997):995-1007.
  5. Zumla A, Chan JF, Azhar EI, Hui D, Yuen KY. Coronavirus-drug discovery and therapeutic options –state of the art reviewNature Reviews Drugs Discovery. 2016 May;15(5):327-47.
  6. Zumla A, Alagaili AN, Cotten M, Azhar EI. Infectious diseases epidemic threats and mass gatherings: refocusing global attention on the continuing spread of the Middle East Respiratory syndrome coronavirus(MERS-CoV). BMC Medicine. 2016 Sep 7;14(1):132. doi: 10.1186/s12916-016-0686-3.
  7. Zumla A, Perlman S, McNabb SJ, Shaikh A, Heymann DL, McCloskey B, Hui DS. Middle East respiratory syndrome in the shadow of Ebola. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 2015;3(2):100-2.
  8. Hui DS, Perlman S, Zumla A. Spread of MERS to South Korea and China. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.2015;3(7):509-10.
  9. Drosten C, Muth D, Corman VM, Hussain R, Al Masri M, HajOmar W, Landt O, Assiri A, Eckerle I, AlShangiti A, Al-Tawfiq JA, Albarrak A, Zumla A, Rambaut A, Memish ZA. An observational, laboratory-based study of outbreaks of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in Jeddah and Riyadh, kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Clinical infectious diseases. 2015;60(3):369-77.
  10. Petersen E, Hui DS, Perlman S, Zumla A. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome- advancing the public healthand research agenda on MERS- lessons from the South Korea outbreak. International Journal of Infectious diseases. 2015;36:54-5.
  11. Drosten C, Meyer B, Muller MA, Corman VM, Al-Masri M, Hossain R, Madani H, Sieberg A, Bosch BJ,Lattwein E, Alhakeem RF, Assiri AM, Hajomar W, Albarrak AM, Al-Tawfiq JA, Zumla AI, Memish ZA. Transmission of MERS-coronavirus in household contacts. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371(9):828-35
  12. Zumla A, Hui DS. Infection control and MERS-CoV in health-care workers.The Lancet. 2014;383(9932):1869-71.
  13. Assiri A, McGeer A, Perl TM, Price CS, Al Rabeeah AA, Cummings DA, Alabdullatif ZN, Assad M, AlmulhimMakhdoom H, Madani H, Alhakeem R, Al-Tawfiq JA, Cotten M, Watson SJ, Kellam P, Zumla A, Memish ZA. Hospital outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirusNew England Journal of Medicine.2013;369(5):407-16.
  14. Annan A, Owusu M, Marfo KS, Larbi R, Sarpong FN, Adu-Sarkodie Y, Amankwa J, Fiafemetsi S, Drosten C,Owusu-Dabo E, Eckerle I. High prevalence of common respiratory viruses and no evidence of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in Hajj pilgrims returning to Ghana, 2013. Trop Med Int Health. 2015Jun;20(6):807-12. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12482. Epub 2015 Mar 3.
Ebola virus (EBOV)
  1. Biava M, Caglioti C, Bordi L, Castilletti C, Colavita F, Quartu S, Nicastri E, Lauria FN, Petrosillo N, Lanini S, Hoenen T, Kobinger G, Zumla A, Di Caro A, Ippolito G, Capobianchi MR, Lalle E. Detection of Viral RNA in Tissues following Plasma Clearance from an Ebola Virus Infected Patient. PLoS Pathog. 2017 Jan 5;13(1):
  2. Ippolito G, Lanini S, Brouqui P, Di Caro A, Vairo F, Fusco FM, Krishna S, Capobianchi MR, Kyobe-Bosa H, Puro V, Wölfel R, Avsic-Zupanc T, Ioannidis JP, Portella G, Kremsner P, Dar O, Bates M, Zumla A. Non-randomised Ebola trials –lessons for optimal outbreak research. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2016. 16:4:407-408.
  3. Ippolito G, Lanini S, Brouqui P, Di Caro A, Vairo F, Abdulla S, Fusco FM, Krishna S, Capobianchi MR, Kyobe-Bosa H, Lewis DJ, Puro V, Wolfel R, Avsic-Zupanc T, Dar O, Mwaba P, Bates M, Heymann D, Zumla A. Ebola: missed opportunities for Europe-Africa research. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2015 Nov;15(11):1254-5.
  4. Zumla A, Heymann D, Ippolito G. Be prepared: Europe needs Ebola outbreak consortium. Nature. 2015 Jul 2;523(7558):35
  5. Agrati C, Castilletti C, Casetti R, Sacchi A, Falasca L, Turchi F, Tumino N, Bordoni V, Cimini E, Viola D, LalleE, Bordi L, Lanini S, Martini F, Nicastri E, Petrosillo N, Puro V, Piacentini M, Di Caro A, Kobinger GP, Zumla A, Ippolito G, Capobianchi MR. Longitudinal characterization of dysfunctional T cell-activation during human acute Ebola infectionNatureCell Death & Disease 2016- Mar 31;7:e2164. Carroll MW, Matthews DA,…Asogun D, Atkinson B, Badusche M, Bah A, Bate S, Baumann J, Becker D, Becker-Ziaja B, Bocquin A, Borremans B,.. Magassouba N, Avši?-Županc T, Nitsche A, Strasser M, Ippolito G, Becker S, Stoecker K, Gabriel M, Raoul H, Di Caro A, Wölfel R, Formenty P, Günther STemporal and spatial analysis of the 2014-2015 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Nature. 2015 Aug 6;524(7563):97-101. 
  6. Lanini S, Portella G, Vairo F, Kobinger GP, Pesenti A, Langer M, Kabia S, Brogiato G, Amone J, Castilletti C, Miccio R, Zumla A, Capobianchi MR, Di Caro A, Strada G, Ippolito G; INMI-EMERGENCY EBOV Sierra Leone Study Group. Blood kinetics of Ebola virus in survivors and non-survivors. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2015  Dec;125(12):4692-8.
  7. Lanini S, Zumla A, Ioannidis JP, Di Caro A, Krishna S, Gostin L, Girardi E, Pletschette M, Strada G, Baritussio A, Portella G, Apolone G, Cavuto S, Satolli R, Kremsner P, Vairo F, Ippolito G. Are adaptive randomised trials or non-randomised studies the best way to address the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? The Lancet Infectious diseases. 2015;15(6):738-45
Zika virus (ZIKV)
  1. Petersen E, Wilson ME, Touch S, McCloskey B, Mwaba P, Bates M, Dar O, Mattes F, Kidd M, Ippolito G, Azhar EI, Zumla A. Rapid Spread of Zika Virus in The Americas – Implications for Public Health Preparedness for Mass Gatherings at the 2016 Brazil Olympic Games. International Journal of infectious diseases. 2016Mar;44:11-5
  2. Zumla A, Goodfellow I, Kasolo F, Ntoumi F, Buchy P, Bates M, Azhar EI, Cotten M, Petersen E. Zika virus outbreak and the case for building effective and sustainable rapid diagnostics laboratory capacity globally. International Journal of infectious diseases 2016 Mar 4;45:92-9
  3. Zumla A, Heymann D, McCloskey B, Bin Saeed AA, Dar O, Al Otabi B, Perlmann S, Gautret P, Roy N, Blumberg L, Barbeschi M, Memish Z, Petersen E. What is the experience from previous Mass Gathering Events? Lessons for Zika virus and the Olympics 2016. International Journal of infectious diseases 2016. 47:1-4.
Other Emerging or Neglected Infectious Diseases
  1. Simulundu E, Mweene AS, Changula K, Monze M, Chizema E, Mwaba P, Takada A, Ippolito G, Kasolo F,Zumla A, Bates M. Lujo viral hemorrhagic fever: considering diagnostic capacity and preparedness in the wakeof recent Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks. Rev Med Virol. 2016 Sep 5. doi: 10.1002/rmv.1903.
  2. Sindato C, Pfeiffer DU, Karimuribo ED, Mboera LE, Rweyemamu MM, Paweska JT. A Spatial Analysis of Rift Valley Fever Virus Seropositivity in Domestic Ruminants in TanzaniaPLoS One. 2015 Jul 10;10(7):e0131873. 
  3. Asogun DA, Adomeh DI, Ehimuan J, Odia I, Hass M, Gabriel M, Olschläger S, Becker-Ziaja B, Folarin O, Phelan E, Ehiane PE, Ifeh VE, Uyigue EA, Oladapo YT, Muoebonam EB, Osunde O, Dongo A, Okokhere PO, Okogbenin SA, Momoh M, Alikah SO, Akhuemokhan OC, Imomeh P, Odike MA, Gire S, Andersen K, Sabeti PC, Happi CT, Akpede GO, Günther SMolecular diagnostics for lassa fever at Irrua specialist teaching hospital, Nigeria: lessons learnt from two years of laboratory operation. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(9):e1839.
  4. Freidl GS, Binger T, Müller MA, de Bruin E, van Beek J, Corman VM, Rasche A, Drexler JF, Sylverken A, Oppong SK, Adu-Sarkodie Y, Tschapka M, Cottontail VM, Drosten C, Koopmans M. Serological evidence of influenza A viruses in frugivorous bats from Africa. PLoS One. 2015 May 12;10(5):e0127035. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127035.
  5. Zumla A, Yew WW, and Hui D (Editors). Book Title: Emerging Respiratory Infections in The 21st Century(2011). Infectious Diseases Clinics of North America. Publishers: Elsevier Saunders publishers, New York. 16 chapters, 39 authors 303 pages.(ISBN 143772604)
  6. McCloskey B, Dar O, Zumla A, Heymann DL. Emerging infectious diseases and pandemic potential: status quo and reducing risk of global spread. The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2014. 14(10):1001-10
  7. Gautret P, Gray GC, Charrel RN, Odezulu NG, Al-Tawfiq JA, Zumla A, Memish ZA. Emerging viral respiratory tract infections-environmental risk factors and transmission. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2014.14(11):1113-22
  8. Al-Tawfiq JA, Zumla A, Gautret P, Gray GC, Hui DS, Al-Rabeeah AA, Memish ZA. Surveillance for emerging respiratory viruses. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2014.14(10):992-1000.World Health Organisation.
  9. Hui DS, Zumla A. Emerging respiratory tract viral infections. Current opinion in pulmonary medicine.2015;21(3):284-92
Antimicrobial Resistance & Drug Resistant Tuberculosis
  1. Zumla A, Memish ZA, Maeurer M, Bates M, Mwaba P, Al-Tawfiq JA, Denning DW, Hayden FG, Hui DS. Emerging novel and antimicrobial-resistant respiratory tract infections: new drug development and therapeutic options. Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2014. 14(11):1136-49.
  2. Zumla A, Chakaya J, Hoelscher M, Ntoumi F, Rustomjee R, Vilaplana C, Yeboah-Manu D, Rasolof V, Munderi P, Singh N, Aklillu E, Padayatchi N, Macete E, Kapata N, Mulenga M, Kibiki G, Mfinanga S, Nyirenda T,Maboko L, Garcia-Basteiro A, Rakotosamimanana N, Bates M, Mwaba P, Reither K, Gagneux S, Edwards S,Mfinanga E, Abdulla S, Cardona PJ, Russell JB, Gant V, Noursadeghi M, Elkington P, Bonnet M, Menendez C,Dieye TN, Diarra B, Maiga A, Aseffa A, Parida S, Wejse C, Petersen E, Kaleebu P, Oliver M, Craig G, Corrah T, Tientcheu L, Antonio M, Rao M, McHugh TD, Sheikh A, Ippolito G, Ramjee G, Kaufmann SH, Churchyard G,Steyn A, Grobusch M, Sanne I, Martinson N, Madansein R, Wilkinson RJ, Mayosi B, Schito M, Wallis RS ,Maeurer M. Towards host-directed therapies for tuberculosis. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.2015;14(8):511-2.
  3. Kabwe M, Tembo J, Chilukutu L, Chilufya M, Ngulube F, Lukwesa C, Kapasa M, Enne V, Wexner H, Mwananyanda L, Hamer DH, Sinyangwe S, Ahmed Y, Klein N, Maeurer M, Zumla A, Bates M. Etiology, Antibiotic Resistance and Risk Factors for Neonatal Sepsis in a Large Referral Center in Zambia. Pediatr InfectDis J. 2016 Jul;35(7):e191-8.
  4. De Nardo P, Gentilotti E, Nguhuni B, Vairo F, Chaula Z, Nicastri E, Nassoro MM, Bevilacqua N, Ismail A,Savoldi A, Zumla A, Ippolito G. Post-caesarean section surgical site infections at a Tanzanian tertiary hospital: a prospective observational study. J Hosp Infect. 2016 Aug;93(4):355-9