Introduction of the Hungarian National Center of Epidemiology

   The Hungarian Royal National Institute of Public Health (IPH) was founded in 1925.

   The building site had been offered free of charge by the Capital Budapest. The Rockefeller Foundation as a sponsor covered the costs of construction and basic equipments.

University Reader Béla Johan, Pathologist was elected to compile the contemporary responsibilities of a National Institute of Public Health supported by a long-term fellowship also offered by the Rockefeller Foundation. He was appointed to Director General of the Institution when IPH was inaugurated on the 1st of July 1927.

    The staff of 28 co-workers possessed the following responsibilities:

  • Introduction and development of the practical application of contemporary achievements of public health science with special attention to the prevention and control of infectious diseases;
  • Providing support and laboratory backup to the public health authorities,
  • Training of the health officers and post-graduate training for Medical Officers.

    Béla Johan was born in 1889. In the year of his 100th birthday the Institution was named after him. The denomination 'B. Johan' remained even after the modification of the legal status of the Institution (National Center of Epidemiology).

    The 'B.Johan' National Centerfor Epidemiology (NCE) has about 400 co-workers including nearly 200 graduates. Divisions and departments of the Center are headquaters in the field of epidemiology of infectious and non-infectious diseases. Epidemiological and microbiological research, development and quality control of the methodological, organisational and laboratory duties of the relevant networks of NPH-MOS and post-graduate training of the personnel belong to the responsibilities of the Center.

  • The Center possesses advisory role concerning the Hungarian vaccination strategy, and in connection with the quality control of the immunbiological and diagnostic products,
  • in the codification processes involving epidemiological or infectological aspects and harmonisation of them with the EU regulations.
  • in the organisation of nation-wide collection of epidemiological data, and laboratory samples with the permission of the Chief Medical Officer and the relevant Ethical Committees;
  • in the organisation of preventive epidemiological campaigns (pregnant women, health personnel, sexually transmitted infections, seroepidemiological surveys, etc.)
  • in the organisation of epidemiological and laboratory surveillance programmes;
  • professional training and post-graduate training of technical and graduate staffs in the form of training courses or fellowships;
  • participation in the international networks of reference laboratories and surveillance activities;
  • recognition and identification of epidemics, microorganisms imported in connection with the international tourism, emerging infections or bioterrorism..
  • continuous development of the above activities, in connection with national and international quality control measures, proficiency tests and accreditation procedures.

 Historical achievements of the predecessor institution

   Under the leadership of the NIPH 50 years elapsed, and the epidemiological and public health status of Hungaryapproached the level of the leading European countries.

   The difference between rural and municipal hygenic conditions decreased significantly.

   Typhus, typhoid fever, tuberculosis and bacterial enteritis was eliminated several decades before. The role of effective co-operation with the veterinary health authorities has to be emphasised, since the Hungarian public health situation could be improved significantly as the result of the veterinary eradication programmes (bovine tuberculosis, salmonelloses and rabies).

   The prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases was reduced below the European level.

   The constant co-operation and support of WHO has to be stressed in field of surveillance of polioviruses, influenza like illnesses and vaccine preventable diseases.

   The regular fruitful co-operation with infectologists and haematologists was also essential to achieve the improved epidemiological results and research.

Main tasks and present activities 


  • Introduction of the nation-wide computer network for the notification of infectious and non-infectious diseases;
  • Participation in the WHO surveillance programmes (influenza like illnesses and acute flaccid paralysis, AIDS/HIV etc.)
  • Joining to the European surveillance projects of different infectious and non-infectious diseases;
  • The improvement of the information flow from the international and national sources for the network in Hungarian by the weekly EPINFO edited by the NCE since 1993;
  • Monitoring of the nosocomial infections and the development of programmes for their prevention


   The Institution had a major contribution in the field of applied microbiological science to the international knowledge in the50s, when   Gyula Takatsy, MD developed the microtiter system under the leadership of Elek Farkas, MD. This technique accelerated the development of the serological diagnostics significantly in the world.

The Division of Microbiology is composed of the

  • Departments of Bacteriology I and II,
  • Department of Molecular Diagnostic and Bacteriophages,
  • Department of Mycology,
  • Department of Parasitology

   Laboratory surveillance projects (antibiotic surveillance and methicillin resistant Staphylococci), and reference laboratories are both of national and international importance.

 The Hungarian Type Culture Collections are deposited in the Division.
 (Enteral, Aerobe, Gram negative, Gram positive, Anaerobe bacteria)

   The quality control of the laboratory network is annually performed by the proficiency testing organised by the Department of bacteriology, for AIDS/HIV organised by the Blood Transfusion Service, and for polio/AFP surveillance organised by the WHO.
The national reference laboratories are the following:

Production of broad-spectrum b-lactamase in Gram-negative bacteria

Methicillin resistant Stahylococcus aureus bacteria

Aerobe bacteria responsible for enteral diseases

Reference laboratory for Leptospirae

Reference laboratory for bacteriophage typing and molecular diagnostic of prokaryotes

Laboratory for Diagnostic of non-conventional mycoses

Reference Laboratory for verotoxin producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) strains

 Department of Parasitology

Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)

Trichomonosis (Trichomonas vaginalis)

Diseases caused by enteral protozoa (Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica/dispar, Criptosporidium parvum)

Reference Laboratory for "free-living" human pathogenic amoebae (Acanthamoeba sp., Naegleria fowleri, Balamuthia mandrillaris)

Enteral helminthes (Enterobius vermicularis, Trichuris trichiura, Ascaris lumbricoides, Ancylostoma
duodenale, Strongyloides strcoralis, Taenia sp., Hymenolepis sp., Fasciola hepatica, Dicrocoelium dentriticum

Reference Laboratory for helminthes causing zoonoses (Toxocara sp., Trichinella sp.,
Echinococcus  sp., Cysticercus cellulosae, Dirofilaria sp.)

Reference Laboratory for parasites causing exotic diseases (Plasmodium sp., Trypanosoma sp.,
Leishmania sp., Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa, Wuchereria bancrofti, Schistosoma sp.,
Fasciolopsis buski, Paragonimus westermani, Opistorchis felineus, Colonorchis sinesis,
Heterophyes heterophyes, Metagonimus yokogawai

Division of Virology

 Type culture collection of enteroviruses and of Hungarian isolates of respiratory viruses. 

Reference Laboratory of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Reference Laboratory of influenza and influenza like illnesses

National Enterovirus Reference Laboratory

Reference Laboratory for Hepatitis Viruses

Reference Laboratory for viruses causing exantematous illnesses

Reference Laboratory for Viral Zoonoses

 The Microbiological Laboratory Network of the NPH-MOS has to be reorganised in with the association of the European Union. Significant investments will be done for the national top laboratories (NCE) and for the development of 5 regional laboratories supported by 6 backup laboratories. The main aim of this reorganisation will be the acceleration of the laboratory response to new epidemiological threats, emerging infections or terrorist attacks.

 Quality control and accreditation

 Division of Control of Immunological Products and Department of Quality Assurance

   Béla Johan created the first Department for the control of biological products. Between 1932 and 2000 the Departments of the Institution introduced the production and manufacturing of many human vaccines.

   Production of vaccine to diphtheria (anatoxin) was started in 1932.
   Vaccines to typhus and typhoid fever were produced and developed up to the seventieth.
   Many millions of doses of live and killed poliovaccine were produced between 1957 and 1959.
   About 23 million doses of killed influenza vaccine were produced between 1941 and 1996.
   The production of mumps, rabies and BCG vaccines was introduced, developed, and manufactured in the predecessor of the Institution.  

  The role of the control of biological products has become an advisory function due to legal changes. The quality control of the diagnostic laboratories and epidemiological organisation, however, has gained growing importance.

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