Global Approach to Biological Research, Infectious diseases and Epidemics in Low-income countries

Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (RML) of the GHESKIO Centres, Port au Prince (Haiti)


Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory (RML) of the GHESKIO Centres, Port au Prince (Haiti)

The GHESKIO centre (Haitian Study Group on Kaposi' Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections) is dedicated to operational research, training and services for diseases that have a major public health impact in the country, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), sexually transmitted infections (STI) and diarrheal diseases. It is the oldest centre in the world focused on the fight against AIDS.

Both diagnostic and research work are performed in the GHESKIO laboratories located in two sites: one, GHESKIO-Institut National de Laboratoire et de Recherches (GHESKIO-INLR) at the southern tip of Port-au-Prince located on 33 boulevard Harry Truman and another site located north of the city close to the international airport, l'Institut des Maladies Infectieuses et de Santé de la Reproduction (GHESKIO-IMIS).

GHESKIO-IMIS is building a larger clinical centre containing a research laboratory, the Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory, with BSL2+ and BSL3 facilities that should be operational in February 2009.

The GHESKIO laboratories function under the direction of GHESKIO Centres Executive Director and managed by a staff formed by a laboratory manager, a QA manager, an assistant laboratory manager, clinical and vaccine research laboratory assistants. The technical staff is constituted by 20 laboratory technologists I, 18 laboratory technologists II, 6 phlebotomists and 1 biomedical engineer. The laboratory is also assisted by 1 administrative assistant, 1 stock manager.

The laboratory is staffed by a total of 63 technologists/technicians; all laboratory personnel have completed the curriculum for Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT/MT) and received additional training and continuing education through on the bench training, conferences, seminars, workshops and distance learning.

The GHESKIO Laboratory serves as Haiti's national referral laboratory for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, diarrheal diseases, mycobacterial diseases.

The laboratory plays a major role in research and training in collaboration with local and international institution and universities.

The laboratory is capable of performing routine diagnostic assays such as basic chemistries, liver function tests, complete blood counts, serologic testing for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis, smear and culture for Mycobacteria, blood culture for bacteria and yeasts, stool microscopy for coccidia, routine parasitology examinations, bacterial cultures.

The laboratory is also capable of performing research level assays including CD4/CD8 counts viral load assays, isolation and freezing of PBMCs, DNA/RNA amplification assays and storage of serum and plasma samples and mycobacterial strains for future testing and shipping to collaborative centers.

Due to the high volume of samples to process and the testing complexity level, we upgraded our laboratory testing capacity from manual methods to automated or semi automated methods wherever possible.

The quest for an AIDS vaccine has led to the introduction of new technologies, to the upgrading of the laboratory facility and acquisition of new equipments. The subsequent laboratory research platform allowed the establishment of the first molecular diagnostics and flow cytometry laboratory in Haiti in support to vaccine and clinical trials for the initiation and follow up of ART and the early prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

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