Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) - EUPHEM

acknowledged by EUPHEM
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Infectious Disease Control (CIb) the Netherlands, Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Diagnostics and Screening, Department Bacteriology and Parasitology
Internal Postbox 22, Postbox 1
3720 BA Bilthoven


Contact person

Titia Kortbeek, medical microbiologist, MD (supervisor EUPHEM)

 Description of the institute

The National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) promotes public health and consumer safety, and helps to protect the quality of the environment. RIVM generates, collects analyses and disseminates knowledge and information from various sources, both national and international. This knowledge supports policy-makers, researchers, regulatory authorities and the general public. Each year, RIVM produces numerous reports and publications on all aspects of public health, nutrition and food, health care, disaster management, nature and the environment. The RIVM has three domains with different focus: infectious diseases, chronic diseases and environmental health.

The mission of the RIVM - Centre for Infectious Disease Control (RIVM-CIb) is to identify, prevent, control and manage infectious diseases and associated risks in order to maintain and promote public health in the Netherlands.

The RIVM CIb focuses on supporting and coordinating infectious disease control efforts at both national and international level. This is possible through ongoing surveillance and research of endemic infections, and alertness towards any potential large-scale outbreak or an outbreak of a disease which is not endemic in the Netherlands. The work complements and supports that of local and regional health authorities. The RIVM-CIb coordinates development of multidisciplinary guidelines on infectious disease control, conducts and participates in research and advises government and professionals. The centre promotes expertise, quality and uniformity within the discipline of infectious disease control. It makes clear and reliable information available to professionals and the general public, and it promotes effective international cooperation.

The Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Diagnostics and Screening (IDS) is one of the laboratory centres of the CIb and is responsible for microbiological research, specific human microbiological diagnostics and spread of infectious diseases, including analyses in the event of an outbreak of a notifiable infectious disease. Research at IDS is mainly focused on developing, optimizing and implementing innovative laboratory tests (diagnostics, and typing) to improve public health. Whole Genome Sequencing, an innovative laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of a micro-organism’s genome is introduced in several microbiological processes.  Other topics cover vaccine effectiveness of the National immunization programme like flu, HPV and involvement in measles, rubella and mumps outbreaks.

EUPHEM fellows are hosted in the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research, Diagnostics and Screening (IDS). The EUPHEM programme is in close collaboration with the other centres that are part of the CIb :  Centre for Epidemiology and Surveillance of Infectious Diseases (EPI), Centre for National Coordination of Infectious Diseases Control (LCI), Centre for Immunology and Vaccinology (IIV), and Centre for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology (Z&O). EPI acts as a training location for the European (EU) and the Member State (MS) track of the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (EPIET).


The main public health topics of CIb are:

  • Healthcare associated infections and antimicrobial resistance
  • Gastrointestinal and foodborne infections
  • Zoonosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections including HPV
  • Respiratory infections including tuberculosis and flu
  • Vaccine preventable diseases (bacterial and viral)
  • Bacterial, viral, and parasitological infections
  • Emerging and high impact pathogen diagnostics
  • Pandemic Preparedness


The core public health functions are:

  • Surveillance of microbiological infections including vaccine preventable diseases
  • Surveillance of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms
  • Investigation and control of communicable disease.
  • Public health microbiological research
  • Teaching and training in public health microbiology


The RIVM hosts several WHO collaborative centres for e.g. antimicrobial resistance epidemiology and surveillance of small pox. IDS works closely together with medical microbiology laboratories in and outside the Netherlands. CIb hosts the NRL for Salmonella and the NRL for parasites and is involved in the work of the reference centres for bacterial meningitis, Legionella, Influenza, Clostridium difficile, leptospirosis, Creutzfeld- Jacobs Disease, polio and measles,mumps and rubella (MMR).


Training Opportunities

EUPHEM fellows will receive their training in the Center of Infectious Disease control, which holds 3 centers for laboratory based research and two centers for control and epidemiology. The center of infectious disease research, diagnostics and screening has several departments and specialized units covering all aspects of bacteriology ( including tuberculosis and biohazard III organisms), virology and parasitology.  The training will be organized in close collaboration with Z&O, IIV, LCI and EPI and in close collaboration with EPIET fellows. Training programs are tailored based on the requirements in the EUPHEM core competencies, previous experience and personal interests and the possibilities within the CIb.



The EUPHEM fellow will be supervised by the main EUPHEM supervisor (Dr Titia Kortbeek) and co-supervisor (Dr Daan Notermans) for the period of his/her training. For specific tasks and assignments, the fellow will be supervised by appropriate senior scientists/consultants.


Language requirements

English is widely spoken and understood by almost everyone in the RIVM. The fellow must thus be fluent in written and spoken English. Some language skills in Dutch is an advantage, as the working language is Dutch. Moreover, in order to be actively involved in field investigations and to communicate with public health services, it is highly recommended to learn to read and speak Dutch. Nearly all fellows manage to do so to a certain degree.


Training History

Number of EUPHEM fellows trained at  RIVM: Three


Number of EUPHEM fellows currently in training at RIVM: zero

The RIVM also hosts EPIET fellows (both MS-track and EU-track).

Current topics for research projects are numerous. A small selection of these projects are listed below.


Respiratory infections

Both virology and bacteriology departments are involved. Projects include diagnostics, molecular typing, epidemiology, antimicrobial resistance.

  • Influenza in collaboration with general practitioners/NIVEL; resistance mechanisms to antiviral drugs;
  • S. pneumonia : invasive infections in hospitals in collaboration with the National Bacterial Meningitis Reference laboratory in Amsterdam; vaccine effectivity or effectiveness in relation to the  vaccination policy  using methods like next gen sequencing and capsule serotyping.


Foodborn infections and gastroenteritis

Virology, parasitology and bacteriology departments are involved.

  • Salmonella and E.coli including surveillance, outbreak investigation, molecular ecology and risk assessment of foodborne zoonoses using different typing methods like MLVA, PFGE and next gen sequencing.
  • Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, norovirus:  surveillance, outbreak investigation and research.
  • Polio reference laboratory work and response to vaccine derived polio strain.
  • Cryptosporidium study: surveillance, risk factor study and long term sequela, international collaboration including typing guidelines.