Core Partner, BSL3+, EU


Aix-Marseille University (AMU) is now the largest French-speaking university, which gathers 72,000 students in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education and 8,000 personnel. Aix-Marseille University brings together 131 research structures, often in partnership with national research organizations.

A) UMR_D 190, Unité des Virus Emergents ("UVE", Aix-Marseille université - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique)
"UVE" gathers medical virologists and basic research scientists, and is organised around 3 research axes centered on arthropod-borne viruses: (1) Emergence and genomics of RNA viruses, (2) Eco-epidemiology of viral infections in southern countries with particular interest in Laos and Medirerranean countries; (3) Antivirals therapy including vaccination. Methodologies available at are: (1) cell culture and virus culture (BSL2 and BSL3); (2) Genomics based on Next-Generation Sequencing platform; (3) Reverse genetics on Flaviviruses and Alphaviruses (4) Screening of antivirals in cell cultures; (5) Molecular and serological diagnosis in medical virology. Facilities include standard molecular biology/immunology/cellular biology facilities, BSL2/BSL3/BSL3+ laboratories, animal facilities (A3). Since 2008, EPV has produced more than 350 articles in peer-reviewed journals. It has discovered/isolated new viruses in the genus Flavivirus, Phlebovirus, Arenavirus. It has set-up the original European Virus Archive (EVA) programme subsequently funded with partners from other EU and non-EU countries by EU Being an AMU/IRD/EHESP JRU, the group has access to over 30 countries and thus to relevant biological material in case of outbreaks due to emerging/re-emerging viral pathogens.
Experience of the team involved in the project:

  • Conceived, launched and managed the first EVA EU programme. Large experience in virus biobanking, full-genome sequencing, long-term preservation technologies, virus distribution to academics.
  • Operation of BSL3 and BSL3+4 laboratories to investigate BSL3 pathogenic viruses (including a number of agents with specifically restricted use, e.g., Rift Valley Fever virus).
  • Routine diagnostic service for 70+ human viral pathogens, including tropical viruses.
  • Performing research programmes on emerging viruses; e.g.,dengue, Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya, influenza, phleboviruses...
  • Establishment of small animal models for encephalitic flaviviral infections
  • Testing antivirals in vitro and in vivo
  • Investigation of evolution of positive-stranded RNA viruses and genomic re-encoding-based attenuation.
  • Previous or ongoing EU projects: coordinator of the EVA European Infrastructure Project (FP7-228292), of the SILVER FP7 project, of the virology section of VIZIER (FP6-511960, IP). It was partner of REO-ID (FP5- QLK2-CT-2001-01722), RIVIGENE (FP6-22639, CA) and ENP4Lab (Sanco/Public Health Programme-2006.208).

B) AFMB/AMU (Architecture et Fonction des Macromolecules Biologiques, Aix Marseille Université).
The AFMB laboratory (UMR 7257, affiliated to the CNRS, and the Aix Marseille Université, France) is a research centre in structural biology, organized in two research Departments supported by a state-of-the- art technical platform and various services which counts approximately 84 persons, out of which 40 hold a permanent position. The AFMB laboratory is a component of the federative structure “Infectiopôle, du Malade à la Molécule” and has made important contributions to the field of structural biology through several French and European programs aimed at implementing a multidisciplinary approach to document the architectures of proteins and their functional implications. The lab is at the forefront of structural proteomics and has developed an operating structural proteomics platform "from gene to structure", which includes domain design, parallel and robotized cloning, expression, purification and crystallization steps of targets of interest. This structure has allowed an efficient involvement in several European projects on viral enzymes and was used during the EVA project (FP7 "European Virus Archive") to produce virus derived products. Main topics of the laboratory: Structural Virology, Antivirals, viral proteins, domain design, parallel and robotized cloning, expression, purification and crystallization, bioinformatics, databases and data Management AFMB/AMU will be mainly involved in Research and accesses related to "Virus Derived Material". Thanks to the large experience in viral protein production and purification, AFMB fulfill the infrastructure requirements for this activity. Moreover, the involvement in several large scale structural and functional virology lead to the development of an existing bank of cDNA and recombinant proteins that will be available to the users at the start of project. Finally, a platform to develop and produce recombinant camelid antibodies has been set up at AFMB (Desmyter et al., PNAS, 2014) and is currently used to select Abs against antigens from 8 viral families.

c) AMU Management team
The coordinator Prof. Romette will be assist of a European Project manager of the Business developer and TA manager, and of the Webmaster and the Quality manager, Mr. Maurice Bardsley. The coordinator will be responsible for taking all actions to enable proper decision ensuring smooth operation of the project and the achievement of project objectives. The Quality Manager in charge will define, agree and implement a set of quality guidelines to be followed by the biological and virological resource centres within EVAg. The Webmaster will implement following the EVA project a secure web facility to centralize all the communication and service tools related to the EVAg consortium activities. The Business Developer and TA manager will organize an appropriate valuation of the resource generated by the consortium amongst industrial private companies, in conjunction with the Partner’s institutions. The European Project manager will be in charge of administrative and financial management and communication inside and outside the Consortium