About Wageningen Bioveterinary Research

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) is an internationally renowned independent knowledge organisation within the domain of human and animal health. Our core activities are scientific applied research and diagnostics.

WBVR is a part of Wageningen University & Research. Our mission is to contribute to a society where humans and animals can healthily coexist by preventing (spreading) diseases and promoting health. Hence, our institute focuses on One Health, sustainable animal husbandry and diagnostics. We collaborate with governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations and other supporting funds. Furthermore, we offer consultancies in the domain of animal health.

We are the Netherlands’ national reference laboratory (NRL) for various animal diseases, which means we advise the government on different aspects related to preventing and combatting animal diseases.

Our Diagnostics and Crisis Organisation department conducts some 250,000 analyses annually to confirm or exclude the presence of pathogens in horses, farm animals, pets, wild fauna, fish and crustaceans. Thus, we contribute to research on the control of animal diseases and to a society in which humans and animals coexist without health risks.

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research highlights

  • Independent scientific research with a focus on practical application
  • Diagnostics (and crisis organisation) of animal diseases and zoonoses
  • Statutory research tasks
  • National Reference Laboratory for animal disease (NRL)
  • Research in the domains of One Health, sustainable livestock farming and animal modelling
  • Human and animal health
  • Clinical studies

120 years of applied veterinary research in the Netherlands

We will celebrate 120 years of applied scientific veterinary research in the Netherlands in 2024!

WBVR’s first predecessor started in 1904 as the National Serum Institute (RSI) in Rotterdam. The RSI merged with the Staatsveeartsenijkundig Onderzoeksinstituut (SVOI) in Amsterdam in 1959, forming the Centraal Diergeneeskundig Instituut (CDI). At the end of 1994, four DLO (Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek) research
institutes merged into ID-DLO (Instituut voor Dierhouderij en Diergezondheid). The four institutes involved in the merger were Centraal Diergeneeskundig Instituut (CDI), Instituut voor Veeteeltkundig Onderzoek (IVO), Instituut voor Veevoeding onderzoek (IVVO) and Centrum voor Onderzoek en Voorlichting in de Pluimveehouderij (COVP). Via ID-DLO, ID-Lelystad, CIDC-Lelystad, the Divisie Infectieziekten of Animal Sciences Group and the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI), we are now known as Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR).

Highlights of our existence are the development of the DIVA principle to differentiate infected animals from vaccinated animals and the development of many vaccines and new methods. The institute was the first in the Netherlands to isolate and discover several viruses and bacteria, among which the PRRSV Lelystad Virus. WBVR has contributed to the eradication of various infectious animal diseases and zoonoses in the Netherlands and Europe. Countless scientific publications are evidence of WBVR and its predecessors’ contributions to science and society over the past 120 years.

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National Reference Laboratory (NRL)

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research is the national reference laboratory for many notifiable animal diseases by commission of the national government. Our institute is responsible for diagnosing these diseases, which means that we:

  • Conducts statutory research tasks related to notifiable animal diseases
  • Is the only reference laboratory in the Netherlands for notifiable diseases under (international) regulations
  • Provides diagnostics and advice in cases where an infectious animal disease is suspected
  • Monitors antibiotic resistance in farm animals
  • Is the international World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) reference laboratory for Campylobacter together with the Veterinary Faculty in Utrecht.
  • Has been appointed a reference centre for foot and mouth disease and veterinary epidemiology by the UN’s FAO

Priorities in our research

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research’s diagnostics and research focus is on a society where humans and animals can coexist without health risks. Our research aligns with and is conducted within the expertise, knowledge and facilities WBVR has at its disposal and includes diagnostics and crisis organisation for animal disease and zoonoses.

We have extensive knowledge of a wide range of animal diseases and zoonoses. In the past, this expertise has led to the development of (global) strategies to combat pathogens. Our expertise is sought after both at a national and international level in relation to zoonoses research. Recently, WBVR contributed significantly to the study and diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in the Netherlands. To this end, we deployed not only our laboratory facilities but also the knowledge of our experts in zoonoses.

Our research has three priorities:

  1. Human and animal health (One Health)
  2. Resilient livestock farming
  3. Animal models

The main goal of our research is to further health and prevent disease. Knowledge of disease and pathogens is essential in achieving this. We contribute to a healthy society through our research, in which we collaborate intensively with different national and international stakeholders.

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Research facilities

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research has laboratories and animal facilities where humans can safely work with infectious pathogens. Our facilities are unique within the Netherlands and are used for diagnostics and scientific and applied research to further human and animal health.

A significant part of our work takes place in the so-called High Containment Unit. The HCU is a secure, fully isolated laboratory complex. Our buildings include human biosafety level 3 (hBSL3) facilities and veterinary biosafety level (vBSL4) facilities. These security levels apply to the laboratories and the adjacent animal facility.

Biosafety levels research facilities WBVR
Biosafety levels research facilities WBVR

Our facilities are suited for animals of all sizes, from mice to cows. The technical installations guarantee optimal climate management and safety when working with infectious pathogens.

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Contract Research

We deploy our expertise in animal disease to find effective solutions for governments and businesses. To this end, we perform pre-clinical and clinical studies at the behest of our clients. We also act as a partner in innovative research and development projects, such as developing an adequate prevention and combatting strategy through vaccines, for example.

Our institute has excellent options for clinical, pre-clinical and pre-competitive (laboratory) studies to investigate animal diseases, treatment options and the efficacy of medicines such as vaccines on the target animal. We have bio-safe facilities where we can study (very) infectious pathogens. For the purpose of pre-clinical studies, we have knowledge of:

  • Animal diseases
  • Animal models (in vivo and in vitro)
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Bioinformatics
  • Test development (e.g. disinfectants and antibodies)
  • Vaccine development (e.g. Rift Valley fever research)

We also have fully equipped operation rooms. With its biotechnical expertise, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research offers a wide range of techniques in the field of surgery, automatic administering, sampling and data collection.

Quality certificates

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research is certified in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 standard. Furthermore, proficiency tests are ISO 17043:2010 (scope R021) accredited, laboratory analyses are ISO 17025:2017 (scope L389) accredited, and there is full AAALAC accreditation for high-quality animal care and- welfare for animals and employees.


We partner with governments and businesses in the domain of biotechnology, meat and fish processing and (veterinary) pharmacy. Our expertise is extensive in every way: from applied to scientific, from specialist to multidisciplinary and from animal feed to livestock farming systems.

Our clients include:

  • Local, national and international administrations
  • Interest groups
  • (Inter)national businesses and industry