Biological analysis and references


In the Laboratory for Biological Analysis and References, we use microbiological and metrologically traceable molecular biological detection methods for the quantification of nucleic acids. We thus support the areas of laboratory medicine and food safety.

We are the point of contact and service provider for questions regarding the metrological traceability of nucleic acid tests. Our laboratory operates the two national reference laboratories for genetically modified organisms in food (NRL-GMOs) and for food-borne viruses (NRL-Viruses) and carries out molecular and microbiological analyses on an agency basis. Our work is part of intensive European and worldwide efforts to improve the comparability, measurement accuracy and traceability of biological and laboratory medicine measurements.

With our activities in the field of metrologically traceable nucleic acid tests, we are neither a controller nor a primary diagnostic provider. In the interests of the health of the Swiss population, we make our knowledge and experience available to the actors working in the laboratory sector.

We are committed to the continuous development of new analysis methods – and the improvement of existing ones – to ensure that we provide high-quality and efficient analytics. Our Laboratory for Biological Analysis and References and Chemical Tests and Consultancy department are both accredited to the SN EN ISO/IEC 17025:2018 standard (accreditation number STS 0119).

In order to keep up with the latest technology and to further develop our measurement options, we continuously carry out research and development projects.


We detect nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) quantitatively and qualitatively. We use microbiological and molecular biological detection methods and develop reference materials for this purpose.

To that end, we carry out the following work, among other things:

  • As a national reference laboratory: detection of viral impurities in food Reference laboratory for food-borne viruses (
  • As a national reference laboratory: detection of genetically modified organisms Reference laboratory for genetically modified organisms in food (
  • Nucleic acid detection and quantification
  • Method development: using quantitative and digital PCR (q/dPCR; PCR= polymerase chain reaction), for Sanger and high-throughput sequencing, for microbial and viral detection of organisms in laboratory medicine and food safety, for the analysis of cancer genomes and biomarkers.
  • Development of reference materials/standards for biological analysis (e.g. Vibrio-Sequins)
  • Scientific communication (workshops, conferences, etc.)
  • Biological species determination in any matrix
  • Creation of reference materials, e.g. sequins for NGS detection of vibrions
  • Advice on laboratory planning and quality assurance, e.g. in the context of capacity building

Although we primarily work for administrative bodies within the Swiss federal government, anyone who is interested in our expertise on traceable analytics may request our services. We are a reliable partner and service provider, and are passionate about promoting the value of metrology.

Research and development

METAS focuses its research and development on the field of health and life sciences. We keep our measurement facilities and capacities in line with the latest advances in technology by means of our research and development projects. This also applies, in particular, to the two national reference laboratories that we operate. This enables us to continue offering the top-quality services you need and foster innovation over the long term. However, we also collaborate on these projects with other metrology institutes in Europe (EURAMET) and around the world (BIPM: CCQM-NAWG). We are happy to offer assistance with placements, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses.

Based on international cooperation, reference materials are produced and the necessary measurement methods for the metrological traceability of the values are developed.

Research projects
The Laboratory for Biological Analysis and References participates in major European projects such as GenomeMET, in which metrological infrastructure and applications for the genomic typing of cancer are to be developed.

We are involved in European collaborative projects such as the European Metrology Network for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine TraceLabMed. The task is to jointly provide coordinated and service-oriented European metrology infrastructure. This European network is integrated into a global collaboration in the context of the Joint Committee for Traceability in Laboratory Medicine (JCTLM) and the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC).

Last modification 08.04.2024

Top of page


Federal Institute of Metrology
Campus Liebefeld
Schwarzenburgstrasse 165
CH-3003 Berne-Köniz
T +41 58 387 01 11

Print contact