The Virology Department of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has been designated as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Dengue and other arboviruses, and has been contributing to the surveillance, outbreak response and research efforts for these infectious agents, since 1985. Currently, the NRL is working on 4 arboviruses of public health importance: Dengue (DEN), Japanese Encephalitis (JE), Chikungunya (CHIKV), and Zika virus (ZKV).

The Dengue NRL’s capacity continuously upgrades to respond to the needs of the Department of Health’s dengue program. It has established a functional network of sub-national laboratories (SNL) in other regions which decentralizes testing to enable a rapid confirmation of cases and minimize the need to transport the samples to RITM.

The NRL also continues to support several research studies on Dengue. One of the notable researches participated by the NRL was the testing of the chimeric Dengue vaccine among hospitalised cases, completing all the phases from Phases I to III. It also played a role in the conduct of two baseline studies for vaccine introduction–one is a study done in three regional hospitals, and the other is a multi-country study that tested for common etiologic agents of febrile illness. The NRL also supported a ten-year immune correlates study among infants and their mothers in San Pablo City, funded by US NIH with collaborators from the University of Massachusetts, and a multi-country study on a new approach in Dengue control with ecology and social factors as determinants funded by IDRC Canada.