Institute of Pathogen Biology

The Institute of Pathogen Biology (IPB) is a national research institute affiliated with the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China. It was funded by the government following the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2006 to respond to the global challenge of major existing and emerging infectious diseases. With 290 staff positions and a more than 40,000 square meter new facility, IPB is the only non-profit research institute in the country’s health system focused on the biology of pathogens. IPB is tasked with leading basic and applied research; playing a key role in scientific consultation for government decision-making, education, and international cooperation at the national level; and providing technical support on disease prevention and control. IPB is also charged with developing innovative policies and mechanisms for exploring new models of scientific research. In its 10-year history, the institute has striven to apply a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the biology of infection, incorporating concepts and methodologies from the frontiers of omics, molecular genetics, immunology, morphology, cell biology, epidemiology, structure biology, biochemistry, and bioinformatics. IPB scientists are conducting cutting-edge studies of major pathogens and are setting up technology platforms to uncover the pathogenic factors in infectious diseases. The ultimate goal is to advance our knowledge and technology for better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the infectious diseases.

Novel and resurgent pathogens present a huge threat to public health meanwhile which is responsible for economic loss and social instability. Hence, a primary function of IPB is to conduct basic and translational research in infectious diseases based on national needs. IPB has been involved in numerous such national research programs in the past 10 years and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers on field studies of diseases including tuberculosis (TB); hepatitis C; AIDS; hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD); and influenza, as well as interdisciplinary field studies in bioinformatics, structural biology, and epidemiology.

With 10-year accumulation, systemic studies of major infectious disease such as tuberculosis and HFMD have laid a solid foundation for diagnosing and treating these diseases. Although China has halved the prevalence of TB in the last 20 years, it is still one of the top infectious disease killers in the country. In an effort to confront problems with the diagnosis and prevention of TB, scientists from IPB are finding novel biomarkers from the pathogen and the host.

Moreover they have also been performing prophylactic treatment studys in a large rural population. Currently, novel antigen biomarker candidates discovered through a genome-wide study, offering the promise of both improving the diagnosis of TB and providing new vaccines against it. An extensive population-based prospective study on latent TB infection (LTBI) in China has been completed. This was the largest LTBI screening study in the world using TB antigen-specific IFN-γ assay, which recommended by the World Health Organization. In addition, a randomized controlled trial has been conducted to explore short-term prophylactic treatment for elderly patients with latent TB infections. Following an outbreak of HFMD caused by Enterovirus in 2008, a systemic study of the disease was conducted by examining 30,000 clinical cases and controls from across the country. It revealed the viral spectrum and its evolution. An in-depth study of the mechanisms underlying the host’s immune response contributed to better understanding the development of the disease.

It is because of those substantial achievements that IPB attaches such importance to national and international cooperation and strives to establish long-term cooperative relationships to respond to emerging diseases. IPB anticipates playing an indispensable role in that effort in the future, attracting talented scientists and producing world-class research on the biology of pathogens.