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Location of laboratory
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
+44 (0)131 242 6048
Name and postal address of the laboratory
Edinburgh Specialist Virology Centre
Laboratory Medicine
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh
51 Little France Crescent
Edinburgh EH16 4SA
DX address
Telephone number for enquiries & fax number
Enquiries (including results and clinical advice): 0131 242 6048
Fax: 0131 242 6008
What do we do?

Edinburgh Specialist Virology Centre is situated within the Directorate of Laboratory Medicine at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The laboratory complex was completed in 2003 and houses the majority of the clinical laboratory facilities for the Lothian region. Virology benefits from modern laboratories in close proximity to the other disciplines, and in particular from 2 multidisciplinary areas, the molecular diagnostics suite and the automated core laboratory.


Virus Detection

Immunofluorescence is available for urgent detection of PCP, respiratory viruses, HSV and VZV. Rotavirus is detected by dipstick. A limited culture service is offered, including shell-vial culture for CMV and adenoviruses.


Molecular Diagnostics

Real-time PCR is available for respiratory viruses (including M. pneumoniae), HBV, CMV (quantitative), norovirus, HSV, VZV, measles virus (on request) and avian influenza H5. The repertoire is in constant development. Conventional PCR is used for enterovirus RNA and HIV proviral DNA. The latter is part of a NSS-funded specialist service through which HCV genotyping and HIV genotypic resistance testing are also provided.

A commercial platform is used for HIV and HCV quantitative PCR.


Automated Core Laboratory

Virology runs an Abbott Architect for high-throughput testing. This encompasses the majority of blood-borne virus screening for local antenatal, GUM, dialysis and transplant services.


Specialist Serology

A combination of automated, semi-automated and manual platforms provide syphilis and H. pylori antibody screens and a comprehensive range of lower-volume antibody tests. Confirmatory blood-borne virus testing including HIV Western Blot and HCV RIBA is offered to SE Scotland through the NSS-funded specialist service. Syphilis confirmatory testing is also available.


Reference, Research and Development

The specialist blood-borne virus service is mentioned above.

The department has active R&D links with the University of Edinburgh and the UK CVN. Areas of collaboration include respiratory pathogens, EBV and parechoviruses. Professor Cubie heads the Scottish HPV reference laboratory, which provides reference and surveillance services as well as having an active research team.

Out of hours' service

The out-of hours service is provided between 17:00 and 09:00 on weekdays and all day at weekends. BMS staff are in the laboratory until 20:00 Mon-Fri and on Saturday (and Sunday during winter) mornings, but outwith these hours must be called in. A member of medical or clinical scientist staff is available for clinical advice by telephone.

Tests offered are as follows:

Transplant screen (potential donor)

Transplant urgent listing

Acute hepatic failure screen

Pre-dialysis screen

Direct Immunofluorescence (respiratory (PCP – W/E mornings only); vesicular rash)


Other tests should be discussed with the clinical person on-call.

Specimens from possible viral haemorrhagic fever or avian influenza H5 may be sent away out of hours.

The service can be accessed via the Royal Infirmary switchboard: 0131 536 1000


Key links:

Edinburgh Virology Laboratory Handbook: Please click here


Detailed information