World Metrology Day - 20 May 2021

This year marks the 146th anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875.

Every year on this date, the measurement community celebrates World Metrology Day. A couple of years ago, 20 May 2019 was a particularly momentous celebration, as some of the 7 base units that form the international system of units (SI) – governing measurements around the world - were linked to fundamental universal constants for the first time. 

This year, the focus of World Metrology Day is measurements for health – a message that continues to be pertinent across the globe as we continue to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

In a general sense, measurement science plays an integral role in scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing, international trade and in protecting the global environment. Reliable and accurate measurements are also essential for the provision of high-quality health services. From the quantification of infectious agents for the improved diagnosis of tuberculosis, to radiation dose measurements for the safe delivery of ultrasound cancer treatments; metrology underpins the diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of illnesses and diseases.

At EURAMET, past and present research programmes have supported various health projects to deliver positive impact to medical clinicians, researchers and instrument manufacturers alike. Currently, the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR**) is the driving force behind innovative measurement solutions for healthcare, with projects addressing pressing healthcare challenges such as the rise of anti-microbial resistance, the increase in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, and last but not least, the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Special messages related to this year’s theme have been posted by presidents of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM) and the International Committee of Legal Metrology (CIML) - along with a joint message from the directors of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the International Bureau of Legal Metrology (BIML). To find out more, please visit the World Metrology Day website >>

EURAMET activities


At EURAMET, our European Metrology Research Programmes (EMRP and EMPIR) have supported hundreds of measurement science research projects, as well as over 145 case studies that detail the positive impact that metrology research has had on all aspects of European life; from industry, energy and the environment, to the development of new standards or new technologies. Europe's measurement science community maintains its efforts to pool together expertise from metrology institutes, academia and industry to develop accurate and reliable measurement standards and methods that can meet societal and healthcare needs

In addition to the themes listed above, several EURAMET projects are also focused specifically on health metrology research. Under EURAMET’s collective umbrella, measurement science institutes are helping to develop new metrology technologies and concepts that support healthcare infrastructures and workforces across Europe, taking us closer to achieving the UN’s primary goal of high-quality, universal healthcare for all. The impact-oriented work of EURAMET additionally plays an important role in supporting policymakers with implementing critical regulations, like the Medical Device and In-Vitro Diagnostic Directives - set out to ensure the safety of everyday medical procedures taking place around the region. 

Today, EURAMET continues to inspire measurement scientists across Europe to tackle global healthcare challenges. To learn more about how EURAMET EMRP and EMPIR projects are helping Europe in the healthcare field, please see the list below of some of our recent news stories.




EMPIR project gives first access to algorithms used for MR-based EPT


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a widely adopted medical scanning technique, with more than 30 million scans performed per year in Europe.  However, as MRI scans are typically qualitative, where clinicians rely on visual inspections of diseased tissue and the like, there is scope for diagnostic accuracy to be improved using quantitative analysis methods.

EMPIR project ‘QUIERO’ has been working to evaluate complementary tomography and fingerprinting techniques in support of quantitative MRI analysis techniques, helping to improve the accuracy of disease diagnostics.




New software for the detection of cardiovascular disease


Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death across the globe. A key tool used to identify this disease is cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) – where the correct interpretation of CMR image maps in fact requires a high level of operator experience and technical knowledge.

To improve the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease using CMR images, an EMPIR project has developed a new analysis software tool that will enable the use of this quantitative imaging method outside of just academic centres.



EMPIR project responds to COVID-19 diagnostic needs


As a life-threatening reaction to infectious diseases, sepsis is responsible for around 700,000 deaths per year in Europe alone.

At EURAMET, the EMPIR project ‘SEPTIMET’ has been developing procedures for new and currently-used biomarkers to improve the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. Recently, outcomes of this project have been utilised to manage the diagnosis of coronavirus patients as well. 



EMPIR project on biological research helps support COVID-19 response


Towards the beginnings of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, research efforts were focused on improving the accuracy of clinical diagnostics for detecing the virus.

The EMPIR project ‘Bio-stand’ provided essential support to the European measurement community at this time, by developing 3 standards for the accurate counting of biological entities needed to diagnose respiratory infections. Importantly, project outcomes supported the implementation of quality assurance procedures for UK field labs testing for COVID-19.




EMPIR project contributes to hospitals' response to COVID-19


Infusion therapy is the most commonly used technology for drug delivery in hospitals around the world. However, the adoption of new measures during this pandemic, such as the use of extension tubing to position infusion pumps outside rooms, has the potential to create errors associated with the infusion-based delivery of vital drugs.

EMPIR project ‘MEDDII’ is playing an important role here, helping to identify and resolve issues related to new drug infusion practises that are being employed at this time.




EMPIR project develops a new method in the fight against antibiotic resistance


Bacteria are the most successful organisms on the planet. In fact, the resistance of bacterial communities to antimicrobial drugs is responsible for around 25,000 deaths a year, where gram-negative bacteria play a huge role.

Due to the tendency of gram-negative bacteria to attach to surfaces as ‘biofilms’, several existing analysis methods cannot be utilised - and so EMPIR project ‘MetVBadBugs’ is developing a new analytical technique to address this challenge.



Members of Traceability in Laboratory Medicine network support COVID-19 response


EURAMET’s TraceLabMed members have been making sure to play their part in the global response to our coronavirus pandemic.

From the development of metrological tools to support better traceability and reliability for COVID-19 tests, to the participation of network members in international ring trials for infection diagnostic testing; TraceLabMed continues to provide essential support to the rest of the laboratory medicine community, as well as healthcare professionals around the world.  



NIBSC develops new reference materials to support the pandemic response


The UK’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) has been a critical source of research support during our global pandemic. The institute is an important member of EURAMET’s metrology network for traceability in laboratory medicine (EMN TraceLabMed), and has recently developed new reference materials and reagents that will underpin the accurate diagnoses, development of vaccines and other medicines for COVID-19.


To learn more, see our news story on World Metrology Day 2021 >>


Additionally, please feel free to browse the Metrology for Health section of our website >>

EMPIR projects are co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

EMRP joint research projects are part of EURAMET’s European Metrology Research Programme. The EMRP has been jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union.

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European activities for World Metrology Day


The UK's measurement institute, NPL (the National Physical Laboratory), will be hosting a webinar on 20 May at 14:00-15:00 (BST). The webinar session will explain the importance of measurement for our society and the recent work of NPL in supporting the healthcare sector. To find out more, see the NPL's own dedicated webpage for World Metrology Day >>

Switzerland's NMI, METAS, has created their own webpage to mark the occasion, including informational videos from key measurement scientists and representatives at the institute. They will also be running an online information event on 20 May 2021, from 2.30 - 4.00pm (CEST). See more >>


INRIM, Italy's measurement institute, will be celebrating the day with a series of events, including a conference, two workshops, and a listening and sharing space for citizens through live social media. Find out more on their website >>

The portugese NMI, IPQ, will be hosting a webinar on 20 May at 09:30 - 13:00 (UTC+1). You can register to take part and see the programme here >>

LNE, the French National Metrology Institute, has published a webpage and a video for World Metrology Day 2021. Please feel free to visit their page >>

The Belgian institute, SMD, will be hosting a workshop that will cover recent metrological developments in the field of food & nutrition, and radiation dosimetry for health applications. 

You can register here and see the workshop agenda here

CEM, the Spanish Metrology Centre, is organising a webinar for 20 May on 'Metrology and health: a guarantee for quality of life'. The session will run from 10am - 2pm (CEST). See more >>

The BIPM and OMIL World Metrology Day website collects planned activities from metrology institutes around the World to mark this date. 

Video messages


See the video below to hear from the CIPM President (Dr Wynand Louw) on World Metrology Day 2021.


Click below to view two video messages from the BIPM and BIML Directors, presented by Mr Anthony Donnellan and Dr Martin Milton, respectively.