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European Public Health Microbiology Training Path (EUPHEM)

Scene in a microbiological laboratory. Source: RKI

Background

The Robert Koch-Institute has been a training site of the European Public Health Microbiology Training path (EUPHEM) since September 2009. EUPHEM is a two-year postgraduate qualification programme that aims to provide training for scientists with experience in microbiology and a keen interest in public health in the core areas of public health microbiology (PHM):

  • Public Health Microbiology Management and Communication
  • Applied microbiology and laboratory investigations
  • Epidemiological investigations (Surveillance and Outbreak investigation)
  • Biorisk Management
  • Quality Management
  • Applied PHM research
  • Teaching and pedagogical skills

This public health microbiology training path is coordinated and funded by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and is closely linked to its sister programme EPIET for epidemiology training. The EUPHEM training consists mainly of learning by doing (projects) aimed at finding and implementing appropriate action as a public health microbiologist when working in a public health institution, e.g. reference diagnostics, surveillance, preparedness, response activities. The EUPHEM fellows work under the supervision of experienced laboratory specialists and epidemiologists of our institution, and will collaborate with fellows from the EPIET path and the Postgraduate Training for Applied Epidemiology (PAE) course at RKI.

PHM is a cross-cutting area that spans the fields of human, animal, food, water, and environmental microbiology, with a focus on human health and disease. Public health microbiology laboratories play a central role in detection, monitoring, outbreak response, and are providing scientific evidence to prevent and control infectious diseases. European preparedness for responding to threats by new and known infectious diseases requires a sustainable infrastructure capable of detecting, diagnosing, and controlling infectious disease problems, including design of prevention, treatment and infection control strategies. A range of expertise is necessary to fulfil these requirements including epidemiology and public health microbiology. Public health microbiology is required to provide access to scientists with expertise/experience of the important communicable diseases at the regional, national and international level for mounting a rapid response to emerging health threats, planning appropriate strategies for prevention, assess existing prevention disciplines in place/use, develop or assist in development of microbiological guidelines, evaluate/develop new diagnostic tools, assess risks of microbes or their products, provide necessary information to policy makers related to above issues from a microbiology perspective.

Schedule

EUPHEM fellows will receive a monthly grant from the ECDC. In addition to the practice-oriented training, theoretical knowledge is communicated through different training modules and courses, of which some are compulsory, and others optional. Each fellow is obliged to participate in ten module weeks. Most of these modules are offered in cooperation with the EPIET programme and take place in different member states of the European Union. Further laboratory-oriented training courses will be chosen depending on the skills assessment of the fellows.

RKI-compulsory modules together with epidemiology fellows of the PAE and EPIET programmes:

  • Introduction week (1 week)
  • Laboratory module (1 week)

Current EUPHEM modules are:

  • EPIET/EUPHEM Introductory course (three weeks)
  • Outbreak investigation methods and management module (five days)
  • Biorisk and quality management (blended, five days face to face)
  • Initial PHM management and leadership/teamwork (blended, five days face to face)
  • Project review (two times five days)
  • Epidemiological and laboratory investigation methods (five days)
  • Rapid assessment in complex emergency situations and mass gathering (six days)
  • Surveillance of major disease groups (blended, five days face to face)
  • Vaccinology (blended e-learning)

Additional training courses based on individual skills assessment of fellows:

  • Virus discovery in the clinical setting
  • Phylogeny and bio-informatics
  • In depth training in microbial and viral typing techniques and their applications and interpretation

The list of modules can be modified from time to time in order to adapt the training needs to the EUPHEM path. The results of the projects will be presented at the annual European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (ESCAIDE).

Selection criteria

The training is aimed at EU citizens with:

  • post-secondary education (diploma) in microbiology or a related subject (medicine, biology, veterinary, pharmacology, biomedicine etc.), with at least three years of experience in microbiology (any microbiology disciplines) or
  • post-secondary education (diploma) and a PhD degree in microbiology or equivalent (clinical microbiology specialist),
  • advantage if previous experience in public health and epidemiology.

Fellows are selected from nationals of member states of the European Union and the EEA-countries. Selection is based on the mentioned above criteria considering professional and personal characteristics/interpersonal skills. The criteria are defined by the ECDC with advice from the EUPHEM Training Forum and included in the call for application. Candidates are invited through a yearly call for application advertised on the ECDC website. An EUPHEM Selection Panel is appointed by the director of the ECDC and includes the EUPHEM and EPIET Chief Coordinators, and representatives of the current European training sites.

Applicants are expected to work for the public health service nationwide in their home country or abroad after completing the qualification.

Date: 13.01.2017

Publications

  • Layer F, Sanchini A, Strommenger B, Cuny C, Breier AC, Proquitté H, Bührer C, Schenkel K, Bätzing-Feigenbaum J, Greutelaers B, Nübel U, Gastmeier P, Eckmanns T, Werner G (2015): Molecular typing of toxic shock syndrome toxin-1- and Enterotoxin A-producing methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus isolates from an outbreak in a neonatal intensive care unit.
    Int. J. Med. Microbiol. 305 (7): 790-798. Epub Aug 22. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2015.08.033. more

  • Nikisins S, Rieger T, Patel P, Müller R, Günther S, Niedrig M (2015): International external quality assessment study for molecular detection of Lassa virus.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 9 (5): e0003793. Epub May 21. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003793. more

  • Stock NK, Escadafal C, Achazi K, Cissé M, Niedrig M (2015): Development and characterization of polyclonal peptide antibodies for the detection of Yellow fever virus proteins.
    J. Virol. Methods 222: 110-116. Epub Jun 16. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2015.06.006. more

  • Escadafal C, Faye O, Sall AA, Faye O, Weidmann M, Strohmeier O, von Stetten F, Drexler J, Eberhard M, Niedrig M, Patel P (2014): Rapid molecular assays for the detection of yellow fever virus in low-resource settings.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 8 (3): e2730. Epub Mar 6. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002730. more

  • Sanchini A, Fiebig L, Drobniewski F, Haas W, Richter E, Katalinic-Jankovic V, Pimkina E, Skenders G, Cirillo DM, European Reference Laboratory Network for TB (ERLN-TB) members, Balabanova Y (2014): Laboratory diagnosis of paediatric tuberculosis in the European Union/European Economic Area: analysis of routine laboratory data, 2007 to 2011.
    Euro Surveill. 19 (11): pii=20744. more

  • Sanchini A, McCormick Smith I, Sedlacek L, Schwarz R, Tintelnot K, Rickerts V (2014): Molecular typing of clinical Cryptococcus neoformans isolates collected in Germany from 2004 to 2010.
    Med. Microbiol. Immunol. 203 (5): 333-340. Epub May 17. doi: 10.1007/s00430-014-0341-6. more

  • Escadafal C, Paweska JT, Grobbelaar A, le Roux C, Bouloy M, Patel P, Teichmann A, Donoso Mantke O, Niedrig M (2013): International external quality assessment of molecular detection of Rift Valley fever virus.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 7 (5): e2244. Epub May 23. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002244. more

  • Sambri V, Capobianchi MR, Cavrini F, Charrel R, Donoso Mantke O, Escadafal C, Franco L, Gaibani P, Gould EA, Niedrig M, Papa A, Pierro A, Rossini G, Sanchini A et al. (2013): Diagnosis of West Nile virus human infections: overview and proposal of diagnostic protocols considering the results of external quality assessment studies.
    Viruses 5 (10): 2329–2348. Epub Sep 25. doi: 10.3390/v5102329. more

  • Sanchini A, Donoso Mantke O, Papa A, Sambri V, Teichmann A, Niedrig M (2013): Second international diagnostic accuracy study for the serological detection of West Nile virus infection.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 7 (4): e2184. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002184. more

  • Domingo C, Escadafal C, Rumer L, Méndez JA, García P, Sall AA, Teichmann A, Donoso Mantke O, Niedrig M (2012): First International External Quality Assessment Study on molecular and serological methods for Yellow Fever diagnosis.
    PLoS One 7 (5): e36291. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036291. more

  • Escadafal C, Avšič-Županc T, Vapalahti O, Niklasson B, Teichmann A, Niedrig M, Donoso Mantke O (2012): Second external quality assurance study for the serological diagnosis of hantaviruses in Europe.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 6 (4): e1607. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001607. more

  • Escadafal C, Ölschläger S, Avšič-Županc T, Papa A, Vanhomwegen J, Wölfel R, Mirazimi A, Teichmann A, Donoso Mantke O, Niedrig M (2012): First international external quality assessment of molecular detection of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus.
    PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis. 6 (6): e1706. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001706. more

  • Donoso Mantke O, Escadafal C, Niedrig M, Pfeffer M on behalf of the Working group for Tick-borne encephalitis virus (2011): Tick-borne encephalitis in Europe, 2007 to 2009.
    Euro Surveill. 16 (39). more