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Laboratory of Aetiology and Control of Viral Infections

Maina Bitchurina - Head of the laboratory, MD, PhD, DSc

phone: (812) 233-21-56

email: poliospb@nr3854.spb.edu


The Laboratory of Respiratory Virus Infections (now called the Laboratory of Etiology and Control of Viral Infections) was created by N. Romanenko in 1945 for the purpose to continue the study of influenza begun in the 1930s by А. Smorodintsev. From 1956 to 1989 the Laboratory was led by Professor E. Fridman who did much to develop Russian influenza vaccines. Since 1989 the Laboratory is directed by М. Bitchurina.

Laboratory specialists have done extensive research on the problem of influenza and other acute viral respiratory infections (N. Romanenko, E. Fridman, М. Bitchourina, L. Nikitina, L. Maslennikova, Е. Briantseva, N. Rosaeva etc.). Etiological and epidemiological surveillance of influenza was carried out, several features of the epidemic process for influenza and its cycles were revealed. The work for the creation of the first inactivated Russian chromatographic influenza vaccine was carried out. The vaccine has been widely used for vaccination in children and adults. The antiviral product Viramid was developed by the Laboratory basing on products of marine origin (mussels) having preventive and therapeutic action against the current influenza A and B virus and the Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2. Clinical studies of chemical medications (Virazole, Ribavirin) against certain viral and bacterial infections have been performed.

In 1998, on the basis of the Laboratory the WHO Accredited Sub-National Laboratory for the Diagnosis of Poliomyelitis and Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) was founded. The purpose of the Sub-National Laboratory is the improvement of Eepidemiological and virological surveillance of poliomyelitis and AFP, enterovirus diseases in 14 administrative districts of the Russian Federation with a population of approximately 25 million. The Laboratory procedures are in full compliance with WHO guidelines. The Laboratory is accredited by WHO as meeting the requirements of the Global Polio Laboratory Network (GPLN). The post of the Head of the WHO Accredited Sub-national Laboratory for Polio Control is occupied by М. Bitchourina, she is assisted by N. Romanenkova, leading researcher, N. Rozaeva, senior research associate, and О. Kanaeva, research associate.

Research tasks include:

- monitoring of poliovirus circulation among the population and in the environment using virological research methods and genetic and biomolecular testing of samples derived from persons with acute flaccid paralysis and in exposed persons, as well as in children from vulnerable groups (from migrant families, nomadic groups, children from closed social groups) and wastewater sampling;

- monitoring of the circulation of non-polio enteroviruses among the population and in the environment and the assessment of prevailing enterovirus serotypes, including molecular analysis of non-polio enteroviruses isolated from various sources.

- decoding of the etiology of group and outbreak incidence of enterovirus infection.

Since 2002, the Laboratory has participated in the implementation of the WHO Global Measles and Rubella Elimination Strategic Plan as a Sub-National Laboratory for Measles and Rubella. The objective of the Laboratory is to improve the epidemiological and virological surveillance of measles and rubella in 11 regions of the North-West District of the Russian Federation with a population of 13.5 million. The WHO Sub-national Laboratory for Measles and Rubella is headed by Doctor of Medicine  M. Bitchourina, her colleagues are N. Zheleznova leading researcher, and А. Antipova, senior research scientist.

The purposes of the research include active screening and laboratory confirmation of all cases of measles and rubella in the territories of the Northwest Federal District at the infection elimination stage, and the decoding of the etiology of group and outbreak incidence of measles and rubella.

In order to carry out quality control of the local virological laboratories for poliomyelitis, measles and rubella, the Laboratory employees regularly travel within the assigned territories.


The Laboratory is awarded WHO grants and participates in projects within the framework of the Institut Pasteur International Network. At the base of the Laboratory scientific and practical workshops are held to improve the skills of virological practitioners in the Russian Federation and the Institut Pasteur International Network. The Laboratory is now conducting joint research on "Improvement of Epidemiological surveillance of measles in the Republic of Guinea".

The researchers of the Laboratory are authors and co-authors of three monographs, nine certificate of authorship and patents, six analytical reviews on poliomyelitis, enterovirus infection, measles and rubella, publications in the differents scientific journals and editions.