[993] Emerging viruses

The group „Emerging viruses” is led by Pr Isabella Eckerle, MD, DTMH, and clinical virologists with more than 10 years of experience working on emerging viruses with focus on zoonotic viruses and coronaviruses. She is also the responsible for the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases.

This group is the affiliated research group of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, a joint institution between the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, with the main laboratory of research group being located at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine (MIMOL) at the Centre medical universitaire (CMU).

The focus of our research is the phenotypic characterization of novel and emerging zoonotic viruses by 1) laboratory-based risk assessment using innovative and highly specific cell culture models from humans and animal reservoir hosts and 2) translational studies on clinical viral characteristics in humans, such as viral shedding patterns, antibody responses and intra-host evolution.

Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, our laboratory is strongly involved in both in development and validation of diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2, as well as multiple research projects on SARS-CoV-2, for example on virus isolation studies, creation of a SARS-CoV-2 biobank, molecular as well as phenotypic characterization and coinfection with other respiratory viruses in primary airway epithelial cells and clinical as well as immunological studies.

The research group is closely connected to the diagnostic virology laboratory and the the Swiss National reference laboratory for emerging viral infections of the Federal Office of Public Health Switzerland (Centre référence infections virales émergentes, CRIVE) at the HUG. The Centre hosts P3 and P4D facilities, located at the HUG, where our work with infectious SARS-CoV-2 is performed. 

Link to the Geneva Centre of emerging Viral Diseases https://www.hug.ch/centre-maladies-virales-emergentes and diagnostic laboratories of the HUG incl. the CRIVE https://www.hug.ch/laboratoire-virologie 

The laboratory is member of the international reference laboratories for COVID19 testing, designated by the World Health Organization to us in early 2020, to which our group is contributing in terms of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic validations (WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Network)


The laboratory is also collaborating partner of the Foundation of Innovative Diagnostics (FIND) to provide support for accurate SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics and other emerging viruses (e.g. monkeypox). Updates of current validations for molecular assays and Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests can be found here:


Close collaborations exist also with the Infectious Diseases Service, the Population Epidemiology Unit, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit of the HUG and the Centre of Vaccinology of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Unige.

Within Switzerland, our Centre and research group is furthermore collaborating with a range of other laboratories, among them the EPFL, Vetsuisse Bern and Spiez laboratory. 



Our 3rd symposium of the Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases will be upcoming soon!

December 7-9, 2022 


Please check this link for all details:


Registration now open!


We are co-organizers of the

XVIth International Nidovirus Symposium 14. - 18.05.2023, Montreux, Switzerland

Follow us on Twitter for more information @nidovirus2023

Homepage and more information coming soon!


Our work has been awarded!

1st Prize of the Swiss Society for Infectious Diseases/Swiss Academic Foundation for Education in Infectious Diseases Award in the Category “Clinical research in infectious diseases” (2022) for our publication "Infectious viral load in unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals infected with ancestral, Delta or Omicron SARS-CoV-2" by Olha Puhach et al., published in Nature Medicine in April 2022!


The prize ceremony was held during the annual meeting of the SSI on September 22nd, 2022 in Interlaken.


More news on our work in can be found in the press release form Unige!






Research funding and projects

Carigest Foundation, Project: “Establishment of an in vitro model of polarized primary human airway epithelial cells from children for the study of viral respiratory infections” 

Horizon 2020, European Union, Project: “European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases – ECRAID-Base

Swiss National Foundation (SNF) National Research Program (NRP) 78 "Covid-19" “Large-scale serological profiling of SARS-CoV-2 and related human CoVs with high-throughput microfluidic nano-immunoassays”,

Co-application with Sebastian Maerkl, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Swiss National Foundation (SNF), Special call on coronaviruses, Project: “Phenotypic characterization of a SARS-CoV-2 clinical strain biobank and risk assessment of evolving virus variants,

Swiss National Foundation (SNF), Special call on coronaviruses Project: “Real-time pandemic functional characterization of SARS-CoV-2”

Co-application with Volker Thiel and Ronald Dijkman (Institute of Virology and Immunologie, Bern)

Collaborating laboratory for the Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND): “Support for accurate 2019-nCoV diagnostics”

Foundation privée HUG: Rapid response support for SARS-CoV-2

Fondation Pictet, Project: “COVID-19, le nouveau défi du Centre de maladies virales émergentes - Understanding transmission & risk factors for COVID-19 in primary cell culture models”

Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny, Project: „Assessment of host-switching capacity of newly identified bat filoviruses through single amino acid change in the spike glycoprotein“


Isabella Eckerle is also part of the following initiatives

High-Level European Expert Group for Covid19 and Monkeypox stabilisation, WHO EURO

Expert on the panel on pandemic respiratory diseases at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany

Member of the joint ECDC/WHO Euro SARS-CoV-2 Virus Characterization Working Group 

Scientific advisory board for the WHO BioHub, Spiez Laboratory, Switzerland 

Invited expert at the World Health Organization, Global research and innovation forum: towards a research roadmap for the 2019 novel Coronavirus, R&D Blueprint Initiative (11-12 February 2020)

Part of the expert group on virus’ natural history and transmission

World Health Organization, Target Product Profile Group: COVID-19 Target product profiles for priority diagnostics to support response to the COVID-19 pandemic v.1.0, 29 September 2020, https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/covid-19-target-product-profiles-for-priority-diagnostics-to-support-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic-v.0.1

World Health Organization: Temporary Advisor to the WHO for the Expert Consultation on mother-to-child transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Oktober 2020)


(selection, for full list see Pubmed) 

Keusch GT, Amuasi JH, Anderson DE, Daszak P, Eckerle I, Field H, Koopmans M, Lam SK, Das Neves CG, Peiris M, Perlman S, Wacharapluesadee S, Yadana S, Saif L. Pandemic origins and a One Health approach to preparedness and prevention: Solutions based on SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Oct 18;119(42):e2202871119  

Infectious viral load in unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals infected with ancestral, Delta or Omicron SARS-CoV-2.  Puhach O, Adea K, Hulo N, Sattonnet P, Genecand C, Iten A, Jacquérioz F, Kaiser L, Vetter P, Eckerle I, Meyer B. Nat Med. 2022 Jul;28(7):1491-1500. 

Neutralization capacity of antibodies elicited through homologous or heterologous infection or vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 VOCs. Bekliz M, Adea K, Vetter P, Eberhardt CS, Hosszu-Fellous K, Vu DL, Puhach O, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Waldvogel-Abramowski S, Stephan C, L'Huillier AG, Siegrist CA, Didierlaurent AM, Kaiser L, Meyer B, Eckerle INat Commun. 2022 Jul 4;13(1):3840. 

Different virus, same mistakes: Why (re-) emerging viruses are one step ahead of us. Vetter P, Jacquérioz F, Eckerle I. Innovation (Camb). 2022 Jun 23;3(4):100273. 

A SARS-CoV-2 omicron (B.1.1.529) variant outbreak in a primary school in Geneva, Switzerland. Lorthe E, Bellon M, Berthelot J, Michielin G, L'Huillier AG, Posfay-Barbe KM, Azman AS, Guessous I, Maerkl SJ, Eckerle I, Stringhini S; SEROCoV-Schools Study Group. Lancet Infect Dis. 2022 Jun;22(6):767-768. 

Epidemiological, virological and serological investigation of a SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (Alpha variant) in a primary school: A prospective longitudinal study.  Lorthe E, Bellon M, Michielin G, Berthelot J, Zaballa ME, Pennacchio F, Bekliz M, Laubscher F, Arefi F, Perez-Saez J, Azman AS, L'Huillier AG, Posfay-Barbe KM, Kaiser L, Guessous I, Maerkl SJ, Eckerle I, Stringhini S; SEROCoV-Schools Study Group. PLoS One. 2022 Aug 17;17(8)

Analytical Sensitivity of Eight Different SARS-CoV-2 Antigen-Detecting Rapid Tests for Omicron-BA.1 Variant. Bekliz M, Adea K, Puhach O, Perez-Rodriguez F, Marques Melancia S, Baggio S, Corvaglia AR, Jacquerioz F, Alvarez C, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Escadafal C, Kaiser L, Eckerle IMicrobiol Spectr. 2022 Aug 31;10(4):e0085322. 

Enhanced fitness of SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern Alpha but not Beta. Ulrich L, Halwe NJ, Taddeo A, Ebert N, Schön J, Devisme C, Trüeb BS, Hoffmann B, Wider M, Fan X, Bekliz M, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Schmidt ML, Niemeyer D, Corman VM, Kraft A, Godel A, Laloli L, Kelly JN, Calderon BM, Breithaupt A, Wylezich C, Veiga IB, Gultom M, Osman S, Zhou B, Adea K, Meyer B, Eberhardt C, Thomann L, Gsell M, Labroussaa F, Jores J, Summerfield A, Drosten C, Eckerle I, Wentworth DE, Dijkman R, Hoffmann D, Thiel V, Beer M, Benarafa C. Nature. 2021 Dec 22. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04342-0.

Estimating clinical SARS-CoV-2 infectiousness in Vero E6 and primary airway epithelial cells. Essaidi-Laziosi M, Perez Rodriguez FJ, Hulo N, Jacquerioz F, Kaiser L, Eckerle ILancet Microbe. 2021 Nov;2(11):e571. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00216-0.

SARS-CoV-2 antigen-detecting rapid tests for the delta variant. Bekliz M, Adea K, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Sacks JA, Escadafal C, Kaiser L, Eckerle ILancet Microbe. 2021 Nov 24. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00302-5

Sequential infections with rhinovirus and influenza modulate the replicative capacity of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract. Essaidi-Laziosi M, Alvarez C, Puhach O, Sattonnet-Roche P, Torriani G, Tapparel C, Kaiser L, Eckerle I. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021 Dec 21:1-26. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2021.2021806.

SARS-CoV-2 rapid diagnostic tests for emerging variants. Bekliz M, Adea K, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Sacks JA, Escadafal C, Kaiser L, Eckerle I. Lancet Microbe. 2021 Aug;2(8):e351. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00147-6.

A high-throughput microfluidic nanoimmunoassay for detecting anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in serum or ultralow-volume blood samples. Swank Z, Michielin G, Yip HM, Cohen P, Andrey DO, Vuilleumier N, Kaiser L, Eckerle I, Meyer B, Maerkl SJ. PNAS. 2021 

Daily Viral Kinetics and Innate and Adaptive Immune Response Assessment in COVID-19: a Case Series.Vetter P, Eberhardt CS, Meyer B, Martinez Murillo PA, Torriani G, Pigny F, Lemeille S, Cordey S, Laubscher F, Vu DL, Calame A, Schibler M, Jacquerioz F, Blanchard-Rohner G, Siegrist CA, Kaiser L, Didierlaurent AM, Eckerle ImSphere. 2020 Nov 11;5(6):e00827-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00827-20.

Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now. Alwan NA, Burgess RA, Ashworth S, Beale R, Bhadelia N, Bogaert D, Dowd J, Eckerle I, Goldman LR, Greenhalgh T, Gurdasani D, Hamdy A, Hanage WP, Hodcroft EB, Hyde Z, Kellam P, Kelly-Irving M, Krammer F, Lipsitch M, McNally A, McKee M, Nouri A, Pimenta D, Priesemann V, Rutter H, Silver J, Sridhar D, Swanton C, Walensky RP, Yamey G, Ziauddeen H. Lancet. 2020 Oct 31;396(10260):e71-e72. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32153-X.

SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the upper respiratory tract of children and adults with early acute COVID-19. Baggio S, L'Huillier AG, Yerly S, Bellon M, Wagner N, Rohr M, Huttner A, Blanchard-Rohner G, Loevy N, Kaiser L, Jacquerioz F, Eckerle I. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Aug 6:ciaa1157. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1157.

SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in COVID-19 hotspots. Eckerle I, Meyer B. Lancet. 2020 Aug 22;396(10250):514-515. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31482-3.

Validation of a commercially available SARS-CoV-2 serological immunoassay. Meyer B, Torriani G, Yerly S, Mazza L, Calame A, Arm-Vernez I, Zimmer G, Agoritsas T, Stirnemann J, Spechbach H, Guessous I, Stringhini S, Pugin J, Roux-Lombard P, Fontao L, Siegrist CA, Eckerle I, Vuilleumier N, Kaiser L; Geneva Center for Emerging Viral Diseases. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 Oct;26(10):1386-1394. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2020.06.024.

Culture-Competent SARS-CoV-2 in Nasopharynx of Symptomatic Neonates, Children, and Adolescents. L'Huillier AG, Torriani G, Pigny F, Kaiser L, Eckerle I. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Oct;26(10):2494-2497. doi: 10.3201/eid2610.202403.

Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study. Stringhini S, Wisniak A, Piumatti G, Azman AS, Lauer SA, Baysson H, De Ridder D, Petrovic D, Schrempft S, Marcus K, Yerly S, Arm Vernez I, Keiser O, Hurst S, Posfay-Barbe KM, Trono D, Pittet D, Gétaz L, Chappuis F, Eckerle I, Vuilleumier N, Meyer B, Flahault A, Kaiser L, Guessous I. Lancet. 2020 Aug 1;396(10247):313-319. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31304-0.