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FP6

FLU-LAB-NET Report Summary

Project ID: 44453
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - FLU-LAB-NET (Development and enhancement of laboratory networks for avian influenza)

The ultimate aim of the FLU-LAB-NET project was to deliver new opportunities for the enhancement and reinforcement of the Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) and National Reference Laboratory network for Avian influenza (AI) within the European Union (EU). The key aims and objectives of FLU-LAB-NET were to share and exchange methodological, virological, genetic, epidemiological and clinical information on influenza A viruses in animals and at the human-animal interface. The network presented up-to-date, quality information on influenza activities for scientists, policy makers, professionals and the public. It also encouraged the coordination of research and surveillance and research projects at a European level.

The four specific aims of FLU-LAB-NET were the following:
- development and implementation of appropriate Information technology (IT) infrastructure to support communication networks (WP2);
- engagement and interaction of the CRL and the NRL partner institutes that form the FLU-LAB-NET 'internal' network (WP3);
- engagement and interaction of the non-EU partner and member institutes and organisations that form the 'external' network (WP4);
- provision and use of the central IT platform to enable rapid web-based communication and networking, data and knowledge sharing, staff exchange and training, coordination of research efforts and laboratory-based activities to support harmonisation efforts between the partner and member institutes and organisations of the internal and external networks.

FLU-LAB-NET succeeded in developing implemented opportunities for the ongoing enhancement and reinforcement of both CRL and NRL internal network within the EU. Most importantly, the project built upon and strengthened a well-established laboratory network in Europe and facilitated much closer interaction and harmonised working.

Furthermore, the project enabled the development and provision of an outreach facility to strategically important and relevant non-EU Member State laboratories, including partner and member laboratories in third countries and International Cooperation (INCO) countries comprising the external network and institute-to-institute discussion forums. It also enabled rapid, formal interactive communications and relevant to laboratories and institutes that were directly engaged with influenza work. In turn, the network continued to extend to participating laboratories involved in influenza research in domestic mammals and at the human-animal interface and provided a hub to allow fostering formal links and coordination with corresponding human, swine and equine influenza networks.

Moreover, the project enabled and allowed the coordination of research and surveillance efforts, data exchange, as well as development and sharing of expertise. Rapid responses to national and global emergencies, with data sharing, continue to be key areas of exploitation, contributing to a European laboratory task force capability for AI and other influenza A viruses of public and animal health significance. Opportunities for the identification and development of the complementarities of both EU and global, multidisciplinary influenza research programmes were also provided. This promoted greater trust, understanding and early access to information that may be of importance to both veterinary and public health in the EU.

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