National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD)

Address 26 Yanko Sakazov Blvd.
1504 Sofia,
Platforms Biomarkers, Vaccines

The National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) is the oldest Bulgarian healthcare institution for applied research founded in 1881.

Nowadays NCIPD is a public research institution at the Ministry of Health, comprising five departments: Microbiology, Virology, Parasitology, Epidemiology and Immunology.  NCIPD develops the strategy and policies for management, prevention and elimination of infectious diseases in Bulgaria. This mission translates into intensive research on the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, and immune response to bacterial and viral infections, and to parasitic invasions.

NCIPD comprises the national reference laboratories (NRLs) for diagnosis of infectious and parasitic diseases, certified since 2003 according to ISO/IEC EN 17025. NCIPD labs are under constant international laboratory external control provided by international EQA bodies (INSTAND, CDC, WHO).

Since 2003, NCIPD has been conducting  the national external quality control  for  microbiology, virology,  parasitology, and immunology labs. Presently NCIPD provides a web-Based EQA  system based on 74 validated methods for identification of microorganisms;   detection of pathogen-specific immune response, characterization of cellular and humoral immunity parameters, along with a “library” of own viral, bacterial, and parasitic reference strains, and a bio-bank of human blood  samples.

In 2007 NCIPD was nominated as a National competent body in the field of infectious and parasitic diseases, reporting to ECDC and WHO, and involved in international scientific networks and collaborations. NCIPD is the only non-university institution in Bulgaria certified for PhD and  postgraduate training in the fields of epidemiology, microbiology, virology, parasitology, immunology and allergy.

NCIPD has nearly 140 years’ experience in the development and production of vaccines, serums and bio-products with therapeutic and diagnostic application. Since 2001 these activities have been alleged to the public commercial company BulBio-NCIPD LTD – our partner in translating fundamental research into applied  products.

The Center of Competence  “Fundamental, translational and clinical investigations on infections and immunity” is a 5-year project funded by  the Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth and lead  by NCIPD  providing unique equipment and technologies  in the field of infectious diseases  and immunity. The research complex comprises  BSL3 labs for handling of extremely dangerous viruses and bacteria; an expert virology lab for NGS and molecular epidemiology analyses; an expert morphology lab for electron, fluorescent and confocal microscopy; an expert microbiology lab for molecular genetics, spectrometry and proteomics (NGS, МАLDI-TOF-MS, automated antimicrobial susceptibility testing); an expert immunology lab equipped for multiparameter flow cytometry, cell sorting, and multiplex  immunoassay platforms; a biological bank.

A well-timed initiative in the context of the ongoing pandemics, the Center of Competence develops several research projects related to COVID-19: NGS analysis of the isolated strains, studies on the long-term memory to SARS-CoV-2, serological and virologic biomarkers related to the clinical outcome, development of rapid and cost-effective diagnostic assays based on Loop-mediated isothermal amplification.

Based on a long-term research experience and  developing infrastructure, NCIPD has joined EATRIS  with particular interests in the following areas: antigen characterization, pre-clinical validation, and clinical development of vaccine preparations provision of  biobank samples (e.g. tissues, cells, DNA, serum, and plasma) for validation of drug targets and biomarkers; identification and validation of biomarkers for drug response; testing and comparison of biomarker assays; specialized trainings in the field of infections and immunity.