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From academic research to essential provision for public health - History of our WHO CC


Paper published in Science describing use of ‘Antigenic Cartography’ to map antigenic variation in strains of influenza A(H3N2)1. The approach proved extremely valuable for surveillance of circulating influenza strains, and for vaccine strain selection.

We were also invited to participate in WHO influenza vaccine strain selection meetings.


First report submitted to WHO influenza vaccine strain selection committee. The WHO CC now works with data on thousands of strains provided by six Collaborating Centres worldwide to produce 6 reports annually for the WHO strain selection committee.


Release of open source antigenic cartography software


Identification of the global circulation pattern of influenza A(H3N2)viruses2. We showed that these viruses continuously circulate among a network of countries in East and South East Asia, and each year this region seeds A(H3N2) epidemics in Oceania, North America, and Europe, then subsequently South America. This work was published in Science and done in close collaboration with the WHO CCs on influenza.

seeding influenza


Rapid Response – the 2009  influenza A(H1N1) outbreak

Group fully dedicated to pandemic investigations, with increasing numbers of strains analysed. Publication of first virological characterisation of A(H1N1) pandemic virus in collaboration with US CDC and other US and Mexican colleagues3. Additional analyses assessed whether the pandemic was more likely to be natural evolution or a laboratory release.


Publication in Science of: The potential for respiratory droplet transmissible A/H5N1  influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host4, and Airborne transmission of  influenza A/H5N1 virus between ferrets5.

Proposal of improved efficacy of trivalent flu vaccine by an optimised B lineage selection strategy.

Designated WHO Collaborating Centre

1. Mapping the Antigenic and Genetic Evolution of Influenza Virus

Derek J. Smith, Alan S. Lapedes, Jan C. de Jong, Theo M. Bestebroer, Guus F. Rimmelzwaan, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, and Ron A. M. Fouchier Science 16 July 2004: 305 (5682), 371-376

2. The Global Circulation of Seasonal Influenza A (H3N2) Viruses

Colin A. Russell, Terry C. Jones, Ian G. Barr, Nancy J. Cox, Rebecca J. Garten, Vicky Gregory, Ian D. Gust, Alan W. Hampson, Alan J. Hay, Aeron C. Hurt, Jan C. de Jong, Anne Kelso, Alexander I. Klimov, Tsutomu Kageyama, Naomi Komadina, Alan S. Lapedes, Yi P. Lin, Ana Mosterin, Masatsugu Obuchi, Takato Odagiri, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, Guus F. Rimmelzwaan, Michael W. Shaw, Eugene Skepner, Klaus Stohr, Masato Tashiro, Ron A. M. Fouchier, and Derek J. Smith Science 18 April 2008: 320 (5874), 340-346.

3. Antigenic and Genetic Characteristics of Swine-Origin 2009 A(H1N1) Influenza Viruses Circulating in Humans

Rebecca J. Garten, C. Todd Davis, Colin A. Russell, Bo Shu, Stephen Lindstrom, Amanda Balish, Wendy M. Sessions, Xiyan Xu, Eugene Skepner, Varough Deyde, Margaret Okomo-Adhiambo, Larisa Gubareva, John Barnes, Catherine B. Smith, Shannon L. Emery, Michael J. Hillman, Pierre Rivailler, James Smagala, Miranda de Graaf, David F. Burke, Ron A. M. Fouchier, Claudia Pappas, Celia M. Alpuche-Aranda, Hugo López-Gatell, Hiram Olivera, Irma López, Christopher A. Myers, Dennis Faix, Patrick J. Blair, Cindy Yu, Kimberly M. Keene, P. David Dotson, Jr., David Boxrud, Anthony R. Sambol, Syed H. Abid, Kirsten St. George, Tammy Bannerman, Amanda L. Moore, David J. Stringer, Patricia Blevins, Gail J. Demmler-Harrison, Michele Ginsberg, Paula Kriner, Steve Waterman, Sandra Smole, Hugo F. Guevara, Edward A. Belongia, Patricia A. Clark, Sara T. Beatrice, Ruben Donis, Jacqueline Katz, Lyn Finelli, Carolyn B. Bridges, Michael Shaw, Daniel B. Jernigan, Timothy M. Uyeki, Derek J. Smith, Alexander I. Klimov, and Nancy J. Cox Science 10 July 2009: 325 (5937), 197-201.Published online 22 May 2009

4. The Potential for Respiratory Droplet–Transmissible A/H5N1 Influenza Virus to Evolve in a Mammalian Host

Colin A. Russell, Judith M. Fonville, André E. X. Brown, David F. Burke, David L. Smith, Sarah L. James, Sander Herfst, Sander van Boheemen, Martin Linster, Eefje J. Schrauwen, Leah Katzelnick, Ana Mosterín, Thijs Kuiken, Eileen Maher, Gabriele Neumann, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ron A. M. Fouchier, and Derek J. Smith Science 22 June 2012: 336 (6088), 1541-1547

5. Airborne Transmission of Influenza A/H5N1 Virus Between Ferrets

Sander Herfst, Eefje J. A. Schrauwen, Martin Linster, Salin Chutinimitkul, Emmie de Wit, Vincent J. Munster, Erin M. Sorrell, Theo M. Bestebroer, David F. Burke, Derek J. Smith, Guus F. Rimmelzwaan, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, and Ron A. M. Fouchier Science 22 June 2012: 336 (6088), 1534-1541.