As a WHO Collaborating Centre for Diagnostics and Laboratory support for HIV/AIDS and other blood borne infections, we develop and deliver an agreed work plan for the WHO each year. The activities relate to our Terms of Reference and include the provision of scientific expertise, policy development, support and advice, reference testing services, sample panels, education and training and quality assurance programs.

​We are proud to be one of only 14 Pre-qualification evaluation laboratories globally recognised by WHO to undertake assessments of In-vitro devices (IVD’s) for emergency listing for use in low and middle-income countries that do not have a regulatory framework of their own. We also offer pre- and post-market evaluations and perform assessments on behalf of non-government organisations (NGOs) and global IVD manufacturers.

We are currently collaborating with The Mérieux Foundation and Integrated Quality Laboratory Services (IQLS) through the South-east Asia Laboratory Strengthening (SEALAB) project to strengthen and support laboratory testing through virtual training and one on one mentoring in Cambodia and Laos. We acknowledge and thank the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their funding and support.

We partner with many international organizations in provision of training and external quality assurance programs (EQA). Click here to see some of the projects and organisations we collaborate with in the region.

Our Response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

The COVID19 pandemic changed the world in 2020 and highlighted that infectious disease, like war, can bring the world to a standstill.

It has exposed how connected and interdependent we all are – across global, as well as local communities. In this modern world, our welfare depends on keeping all of us healthy. The key to controlling the spread of infectious diseases and any future pandemics is establishing state of the art testing in both the developed and developing world.​

At NRL, we have been very pro-active in our scientific response to the global pandemic including:

  • Support for WHO with the development of protocols for the formal evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 serology test kits and subsequently, the formal evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 serology tests on behalf of WHO.
  • Formal evaluations of a series of new Point of Care (POCT) IVD test kits for SARS-CoV-2 serology on behalf of WHO. These rapid tests are an essential tool for urban and especially remote communities to be able to test and diagnose COVID19 quickly and accurately.
  • Support for the Doherty Institute and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) with evaluations of rapid antigen test kits for use in Australia.
  • Development of an innovative quality assurance program for COVID19 Rapid Antigen Tests, specifically suited for use in a community-based setting.
  • Awarded a grant by the Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics (FIND) to design, deliver and manage a QA program.
  • Established a repository of serum, plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from SARS-CoV-2 infected donors, including both cross-reacting and seroconversion samples. Subsequently, a very large COVID19 plasma repository of well-characterised samples was established with the support of our QC manufacturing partners Technopath Clinical Diagnostics and DiaMex GmbH.
  • Our Testing services team enabled a tertiary healthcare service in Melbourne to accelerate and expand their PCR testing capacity and capability through providing staff training and physical access to our testing platform while theirs was being installed and commissioned. This happened at a crucial time early in the pandemic when state testing services were severely pressured.
  • Pivoted our existing HIV collaboration with the National Measurement Institute (NMI), the Australian Government national authority on measurement, to create an Australian standard for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
  • Collaborated with Burnet Institute and Doherty Institute on a Victorian Government initiative to develop novel serology tests for COVID19 to monitor the development and waning of antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2.
  • As part of the reformulation of our EQAS, we established a novel respiratory scheme containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus to assist pathology laboratories in ensuring their molecular testing of suspected COVID patients is accurate and that rates of false positive and false negative test results are minimized.
  • Supported customers by introducing a new range of SARS-CoV-2 quality control molecular and serology products from our QC manufacturing partners, expanding our already comprehensive QC menu.

Testing Times - A documentary highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on our frontline partners globally

Page last updated: 13 December 2022