Editorial from our Director

Further together

The results that you will be seeing in this annual report prove that Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) is one of the leading biomedicine centers linked to a hospital. This feat has been possible thanks to the hard work of our researchers with the help of our support teams. This report summarizes, for instance, our five top scientific advances of 2018. Advances in brain disorders, glioblastoma, heart diseases, stroke or Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH) are a very good portrait of the variety of acknowledged publications made by our research groups. We are very proud of all of them, but we are especially proud that three of them are led by women.

In order to arrive here and extend the impact of these results, we know that we need to increase our relationship with the main inner and external partners. It’s necessary to cooperate with our near allies, being a partner for our neighbors and find the links with our equals in other territories. With these alliances we will become stronger and our outputs will improve. First of all, with Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), a world reference in the research of cancer, we have a very important agreement in our respective daily activity as we share ambitions and objectives under the umbrella of Vall d’Hebron Campus. VHIO joined the Vall d’Hebron Health Accredited Center last year, which will certainly strengthen Vall d’Hebron leadership, as together we are stronger and can go further.

The second alliance highlighted during 2018 is a project in which all the research institutes of the Catalan Health Institute are going to work together, to save duplicated efforts and achieve common goals. A long time expected agreement which began just last year and that is still developing and will be a source of great advances for health research in Catalonia. VHIR has an important role in the research of our country, but only a strong alliance with the other agents of the system will allow us to make our goals a reality.

In Europe we are part of EUHA, the powerful alliance of the greatest University Hospitals, since 2017. Talking about research, 2018 was a year of decisive meetings and great steps forward from which very important decisions will emerge in the coming years. For instance, Vall d’Hebron is going to be the leader of a great European project which will change the paradigm of clinical trials thanks to our experience in this field, which has been recognized by our European partners and industry. We have surpassed the 1,000 active clinical trials on the Vall d’Hebron Campus, more than half in early phases, the ones with the highest risk and at the same time with the highest added value. More than 50% in experimental oncology, where Vall d’Hebron is a world leader, and others in areas such as innovative therapies, transplants, paediatrics, rare diseases, neurology and other medical and clinical specialties.

Vall d’Hebron is also a partner of choice for most pharmaceutical companies, both global and local, due to the talent of our professionals and for the rigor and excellence of the projects that are carried out. It is also worth mentioning the economic impact this activity has for the country’s health system: the clinical research developed in Vall d’Hebron results in direct savings in medication which is contributed by the promoters of the different trials for treatments of patients taking part in the clinical trials. All this activity has the same objective: to advance the knowledge and validation of drugs, medical devices and diagnostic, surgical and therapeutic techniques, in order to bring the medicine from the future to the present.

During 2018 the new building project also continued to be an essential goal of our institution that worked with the architectonical, functional and financial plans to make it possible in a very near future. We made advances in the distribution of the labs and other common research areas, in great part thanks to our researchers’ contribution. Their participation has been and continues to be a substantial part of the final picture of the building as they are going to be the center of its activity. Our new home will be ready during the first years of the 2020’s but meanwhile we have a hard and exciting task in front of us.
During the past years this annual report has been an example of an important strategy for us, to outreach and open our research to patients and citizens in general. We made a step forward last year with the creation of the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) strategy that continues to be a core piece of our activity and that is also explained in this report.

We are well aware that we serve people, should inform them of our activity and they must be part of what we do. We will not be able to achieve our mission to better their lives if they do not become our partners in this exciting journey and I hope that this report helps bring forward the accountability of our research, shows how much we care and visualises the wonderful effort that goes into realising this shared goal.