Wellcome Sanger Institute

Strategic Partnership: Genomic Surveillance Unit (GSU) and Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI)

The Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Genomic Surveillance Unit (GSU) and Stellenbosch University’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) have partnered to coordinate and strengthen the genomic surveillance of infectious diseases globally.

Research focus

The partnership will initially focus on many of the highest-risk pathogens, the threats from which are likely to increase with climate change and other human factors. These include:

Insect-borne diseases, such as

  • malaria
  • dengue
  • zika
  • chikungunya
  • yellow fever

Water-borne diseases, such as

  • cholera

Respiratory viruses, such as

  • influenza
  • coronaviruses
  • any new ‘Disease X’ with pandemic potential

Geographic focus

The control of infectious diseases is a global effort. As well as monitoring infectious diseases in their own countries, CERI and the GSU work with genomics partners worldwide.

In Africa, strong partnerships exist with scientists in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania and The Gambia.

Further work is ongoing with partners in the Americas, in particular Brazil, as well as South and Southeast Asia, and with the WHO at the international level.


The Wellcome Sanger Institute has played a central role in the Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN) since 2005, using genetics to study changes in the malaria parasite and its mosquito vectors. MalariaGEN partners built the world’s largest public malaria genomic data resources.

For over 20 years, CERI director Professor Tulio de Oliveira has worked on virus outbreaks including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and several insect-borne diseases. Since the pandemic, CERI has turned its attention to mosquito-borne diseases, with success tracking outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya viruses in Senegal and Kenya.

Sanger people

Photo of John Sillitoe

John Sillitoe

Director of Genomic Surveillance Unit

Photo of Prof Tulio de Oliveira

Prof Tulio de Oliveira

Deputy Director, Genomic Surveillance Unit

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