The national reference centers (NRC) play in important rôle in he public health missions of the Institut Pasteur, as defined in its statutes. The centers are designated for a period of three years through a decision made by the French Department of Health. They participate in the program of surveillance of communicable diseases in France.
Most of these Centers are also designated as Collaborating Centers of the World Health Organization (CCWHO).
Their activities are coordinated by the Department for Coordination of reference Centers.