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Message from the Director General

30 years of research

In 1974, President Omar Bongo Ondimba had the excellent idea of creating an international medical research centre for Africa, bringing together researchers, engineers, professors, doctors and technicians from various countries.

Thanks to the determination of President Omar Bongo and the commitment of Elf-Gabon (now Total-Gabon), the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville (CIRMF) was founded in December 1979.

By placing the CIRMF at the forefront of the great social achievements of Gabon, President Omar Bongo hoped that this work would contribute to scientific and medical knowledge as well as human progress. For thirty-one years of existence (1979-2010) the CIRMF has continued to produce knowledge, and we can thank its founder, who liked to say that “A population without health guarantees is a population without a future and without hope. “

President Bongo’s first research objective was to find answers to human fertility disorders, which had long had hampered socio-economic development in Gabon. Once this first phase was in place, other health priorities quickly emerged, for which the CIRMF used all its resources, especially in combating emerging diseases, such as Ebola and AIDS, identifying and preventing drug resistance, controlling the emergence of Dengue fever and Chikungunya, participating actively in supporting public health systems for the early diagnosis of sickle cell disease, etc.

Major discoveries have been made in all these areas and have contributed to the well-being of many populations.

The CIRMF now has one of the largest primate centres in the world, and the only centre to house mandrill monkey colonies in semi-liberty and a colony of sun-tailed monkeys, ambassadors of biodiversity for Gabon. It also has a high security unit with a BSL-4 laboratory, unique in francophone Africa, for diagnosis and research on highly pathogenic microbes, such as Ebola and other deadly emerging viral diseases. The Centre has cutting edge equipment, allowing it to develop diagnostic tools and strategies to actively fight against AIDS, malaria, influenza including influenza A (H1N1), sickle cell anaemia, Chikungunya, hemorrhagic fever and infantile diarrhoea.

The Centre has been conducting exemplary research for thirty years, and the researchers and their teams have received several national and international awards. The work made it possible to provide the Gabonese healthcare system with disease-fighting instruments and methods. The Centre also hosts many students and young researchers, and trains PhD students each year, with some fifty PhD students trained so far.

All of this is what we want to explain in a simple and instructive manner on this website, in order to underscore the value of this type of research centre in a country that is developing with an emphasis on sustainability, and that has considerable economic wealth compared to many other countries in Africa and elsewhere. The Gabonese Republic should be proud of supporting such an achievement. The CIRMF is not a “luxury showcase,” but a research centre dedicated to promoting better health for all Gabonese, and it must be said, of all mankind. Disease agents do not respect borders, even more so today than in the past. They are aided by the growing exchanges between nations and our natural and human environments in constant flux.

This comprehensive website, thanks to the  “magic” of digital technology, is a living thing. Therefore our hope is that it will educate people about what research work is like on a daily basis, through the voices of our researchers, without concealing the technical and sometimes even intellectual difficulties encountered.


Welcome to the CIRMF and enjoy your visit!


Jean Paul Gonzalez

Director General of the CIRMF