Hospital del Mar Research Institute Hospital del Mar Research Institute

Infectious diseases, the research focus from 1950 to 1984

During the first quarter of a century of research at the hospital, between 1950 and 1984, doctors Amadeo Foz and Jordi Gras spearheaded medical research in the health sciences. The immunology and microbiology of infectious diseases were the focus of their laboratory studies, at a time when these diseases were the main priorities at Hospital del Mar, known at the time as the Municipal Infectious Diseases Hospital of Barcelona. When it was inaugurated, the new department had a double mission: "the research work arising in the Hospital, as a consequence of the cases attended, and of the sanitary requirements that the city of Barcelona, in the future, may pose" it was stated in the Municipal Gazette in April 1950, and it was added that the four sections in which it was organized were those of "Pathological Anatomy, Parasitology, Bacteriology and Immunochemistry, all working in perfect functional coordination and in accordance with the general guidelines of the Municipal Hospital of Nuestra Señora del Mar".

Initially, infectious diseases of the heart, such as endocarditis, were the main focus of the research. Later, interest was extended to pathologies caused by the ingestion of contaminated animal milk -such as goat's milk- (brucellosis) or by the consumption of poor quality water or food (cholera). In 1958, the national and international renown of Barcelona researchers was boosted by the appointment of Dr. Foz as a member of the World Health Organisation's committee of experts on brucellosis. In 1971, Barcelona, and Spain as a whole, suffered its last major cholera epidemic, and the researchers at the Hospital del Mar were key players in its analysis. The third major area of research was the pioneering study of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, especially with regard to urinary tract infections. During the first of its stages, IMIM directed about thirty doctoral theses between 1950 and 1984, under the direction of Drs. Gras and Foz. Among the doctoral students there were names linked later to the activities of the Institute, such as Jaume Torras Roselló and Clara Roy.

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