Worldwide Influenza Centre

Director: John McCauley

The Worldwide Influenza Centre at the Francis Crick Institute works with World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centres for Reference and Research on Influenza which, together with some 143 National Influenza Centres in 113 countries, comprise the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System.

The WHO Influenza Centre, now based at the Francis Crick Institute, was established in 1948 at the behest of the newly formed WHO. This reflected, on the one hand, the initial identification of the human influenza virus at the National Institute for Medical Research in 1933 and the subsequent prominent interest in influenza, and, on the other hand, the introduction of influenza vaccine in 1945 and the appreciation that antigenic drift required regular revision of the vaccine composition.

Influenza virus particle

Schematic representation of the influenza virus particle. (Click to view larger image)


The prime objectives of the WHO network include:

  • Early detection of the emergence in the human population of novel influenza subtypes with the potential to cause a pandemic. Examples include the avian H9N2 viruses which caused human infections in Hong Kong in 1999 and 2003, the highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses which have caused a panzootic in birds and been responsible for over 780 laboratory confirmed sporadic human infections in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe from 1997 to date, and the H7N9 virus that emerged in China in 2013 and has resulted in over 600 human infections, with over 200 deaths, in 24 months.
  • Monitoring antigenic and genetic changes occurring in recently circulating influenza A and B viruses, to identify new antigenic (drift) variants and assist the WHO in formulating (twice yearly) recommendations on the most appropriate compositions of influenza vaccines.



Tel: +44 (0)203 796 0563

Dr John McCauley
(Director of WIC)
Tel: +44 (0)203 796 1520

Dr Rod Daniels
(Deputy Director)
Tel: +44 (0)203 796 2444

Dr Yi Pu Lin
(Assistant Director)
Tel: +44 (0)203 796 1508