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Meningococcal Reference Unit

Public Health England's (PHE) Meningococcal Reference Unit (MRU) for England and Wales has been based in Manchester since 1978.

Originally established to provide phenotypic characterisation of meningococci isolated in laboratories throughout the England and Wales, the nature and scope of the unit's activity has widened recently along with the range of tests available.

The MRU is part of PHE's Microbiology Services Division, providing specialist reference testing, working within the Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership (MMMP), at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The MRU works closely with PHE colleagues in Colindale, London, within the Respiratory and Systemic Infections Laboratory (RSIL), as well as health care professionals around the country.

The unit is in daily contact with local microbiology laboratories, PHE Health Protection Units (HPUs) and epidemiologists to support all aspects of meningococcal testing and surveillance.

In addition to providing laboratory specialist reference services, staff from the MRU advise on investigation and management of individual cases and outbreaks.


The MRU also collaborates with a number of research groups both nationally and internationally on a variety of projects including major support for multi-centre carriage studies, vaccine development, improved meningococcal case confirmation and organism characterisation.

The MRU works closely with similar European reference laboratories through the EMGM (European Monitoring Group on Meningococci and the European Meningococcal Disease Society) and since 2008, the European Communicable Disease Centre's Invasive Bacterial Diseases Laboratory Network (ECDC IBDLabnet). The PHE MRU has been responsible for the meningococcal EQA component of IBD labnet.

The MRU has recently agreed to support the WHO Invasive Bacterial Diseases laboratory network as a Global/Regional Reference Laboratory in association with the PHE's Haemophilus Reference laboratory which has WHO global reference laboratory status.

Laboratory opening hours:

Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm
Saturday Contact MMMP enquiries 0161 276 8788 or 0161 276 8854

Contact us:

Laboratory phone 0161 276 6757
Laboratory fax 0161 276 5744

Clinical advice

A full clinical advice service is maintained.

For advice during normal working hours call 0161 276 5746.

For advice out of hours call 0161 276 1234 and ask for the duty medical microbiologist.


All urgent results will be delivered by phone (or faxed by arrangement, in accordance with MMMP policy).
For general MRU results/enquiries call 0161 276 6757.

User manual

For tests available, specimen requirements and turnaround times, please see the Meningococcal Reference Unit User Manual.


Postal address

Meningococcal Reference Unit
Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership
PO Box 209
Clinical Sciences Centre
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9WL

Delivery address Meningococcal Reference Unit
Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership
Clinical Sciences Centre
Manchester Royal Infirmary
Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9WL
Hays DX address Meningococcal Reference Laboratory
PHE North West, Manchester Lab
DX 6962410
Manchester 90 M

(Last reviewed March 21st 2018)