The title of this talk must seem forbidding to many of you. A reference center is a service organization which on the surface, and especially to the uninitiated younger scientists, connotes a museum with doddering curators. I hope today to counter that image and to impart a philosophy which has been successful in the hands of those with whom I have been fortunate enough to collaborate over the past 15 years, and which will be essential in the future if reference centers are to continue to be effective.
As you may guess, I shall draw heavily from my own experience with the World Reference Center for Arboviruses at the Yale School of Medicine. The same philosophy with principles and corollaries extends to a wide variety of similar programs which most of you either operate or interact with.