The Global Polio Laboratory Network as a Platform for the Viral Vaccine-Preventable and Emerging Diseases Laboratory Networks

J Infect Dis. 2017 Jul 1;216(suppl_1):S299-S307. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix092.


The Global Polio Laboratory Network (GPLN) began building in the late 1980s on a 3-tiered structure of 146 laboratories with different and complementary technical and support capacities (poliovirus isolation, molecular strain characterization including sequencing, quality assurance, and research). The purpose of this network is to provide timely and accurate laboratory results to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Deeply integrated with field case-based surveillance, it ultimately provides molecular epidemiological data from polioviruses used to inform programmatic and immunization activities. This network of global coverage requires substantial investments in laboratory infrastructure, equipment, supplies, reagents, quality assurance, staffing and training, often in resource-limited settings. The GPLN has not only developed country capacities, but it also serves as a model to other global laboratory networks for vaccine-preventable diseases that will endure after the polio eradication goal is achieved. Leveraging lessons learned during past 27 years, the authors discuss options for transitioning GPLN assets to support control of other viral vaccine-preventable, emerging, and reemerging diseases.

Keywords: Eradication; Laboratory; Legacy; Networking; Poliomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Capacity Building
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Laboratories / organization & administration*
  • Poliomyelitis / prevention & control*
  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Viral Vaccines*
  • Virus Diseases / prevention & control


  • Poliovirus Vaccine, Oral
  • Viral Vaccines