Emerging infectious diseases

Ever since its very early days, the Institut Pasteur has been committed to tackling emerging infections, and its work has left an extraordinary legacy. Many emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, in which an animal pathogen has crossed the species barrier to cause disease in humans.


AIDS, Ebola, SARS, avian flu, chikungunya, Zika, the past fifty years have witnessed an alarming increase in the emergence of new infectious agents into human populations.  Known parasites, bacterial and fungal pathogens are re-emerging due to ecosystem modifications, leading to the development of synergistic epidemics. Most of these emerging infectious diseases are related to pathogens from the animal world which crossed the species barrier and adapted to humans.  In other instances, gene reassortment or mutations in the microbial genome lead to novel agents able to spread among humans. Vectors, such as the mosquitoes Aedes, are now firmly established in tropical and temperate zones to facilitate the dissemination of the so-called arboviruses. The Institut Pasteur, with more than one hundred research units, 14 national reference centers, 6 WHO collaborating centers and connections with an international network of 32 institutes worldwide, is uniquely positioned to respond to these threats. 


  1. To analyze the biological and epidemiological determinants of infectious disease emergence into human populations
  2. To develop new tools for pathogen identification and characterization in the context of epidemics or diseases of unknown origin
  3. To study the factors associated with individual susceptibility to infections, including the role of genes, immunity, and the microbiota.
  4. To understand host-microbe interactions, and identify novel targets for diagnosis, vaccination and treatment.
  5. To study the biology of vectors and vector-pathogen interactions, for the development of environmentally friendly and safe control strategies.


  1. Recruit at least two five-year research groups (G5s or Units) before 2023
  2. Build a state-of-the-art insectarium for vector research.
  3. Create a community with the Institut Pasteur International Network for generating, sharing, and analyzing sequencing data from emerging or re-emerging pathogens.
  4. Strengthen our impact in vaccinology by pooling the wide-ranging expertise at the Institut Pasteur.
  5. Set up an infrastructure for the identification and development of human monoclonal antibodies for research and therapeutic purposes.
  6. Devise a genomic taxonomy of microbial strains.


Caroline Demangel, Head of the Immunobiology of Infection Unit

Arnaud Fontanet, Head of the Epidemiology of Emerging Diseases Unit and Director of the Department of Global Health

Three associated programmes


Six thematic areas (Total of 88 entities including research units, G5, WHO and national reference centres, collections and platforms).


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