oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - A brief history of the Special Pathogens Unit at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service : Festschrift



The Poliomyelitis Research Foundation (PRF) laboratories were opened in 1953 on the Rietfontein Campus of the South African Institute for Medical Research (SAIMR), specifically to conduct research on virus diseases and produce vaccine. In 1976, the PRF laboratories were sold to the government to become the National Institute for Virology (NIV) under the Department of Health, with Prof OW Prozesky as the first Director. In 2001, the SAIMR was reconstituted as a statutory body, the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), with its peripheral laboratories being administered on a regional basis, and the central microbiological laboratories in Johannesburg being amalgamated with the NIV to form a new National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). Prof BD Schoub, who had succeeded Prof Prozesky as Director of NIV in 1982, became the first Director of the NICD.


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