Faculty of Medicine – WHO Collaboration Center: A reference laboratory on Cholera outbreak in Lebanon

Responding to the emergency of the Cholera outbreak in Lebanon at the American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine is the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Bacterial Pathogens (WHO-CC) at the Department of Experimental Pathology, Immunology, and Microbiology (EPIM) and the Center for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR). Upon the request of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), the WHO-CC is exclusively engaged in laboratory testing of Vibrio cholerae, at the phenotypic as well as the genotypic levels, for the purpose of a nationwide genomic surveillance of the etiology of Cholera outbreak in Lebanon.

“The nationwide surveillance of Cholera is essential for a timely public health response and the implementation of control measures by the official authorities to halt the spread of the etiological agent of Cholera,” said Dr. Ghassan Matar. “It will be done through the deciphering of the identity and source of the circulating strain using state of the art technology such as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).”

Professor Ghassan Matar, who is leading this effort, is chairperson of the Department of EPIM, associate director and laboratory director of the university’s CIDR, and director of the WHO Collaborating Center. Technical lead in this endeavor is Dr. Antoine Abou Fayad, assistant professor in the Department of EPIM. The American University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine WHO-CC is leading regionally and globally in the surveillance on Cholera and other communicable diseases as Dr. Matar serves as a member of the Global Task Force of Cholera Control.

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