Rafael de la Torre Fornells
Justification and description of the Programme
The mission of the Neuroscience Programme (NP) at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute is to support basic and clinical research that will lead to a better understanding of mental and neurodegenerative illnesses.
The pathologies to be studied by the NP include:
• Addiction to drugs and the effects of exposure to them in utero
• Emotional and psychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, ADHD)
• Chronic pain
• Eating disorders and their regulation by the nervous system
• Diseases of genetic origin that can cause intellectual disability (i.e. Down syndrome, Fragile X, Williams Beuren)
• Neurodegenerative diseases
The NP has several technological resources to carry out this mission:
• Animal models of diseases (intellectual disabilities, pain, affective disorders, drug abuse, and state-of-the–art in vivo electrophysiology systems in freely-moving mice) to study the neurobiology of diseases, and cognitive and affective responses to drugs or to other therapeutic approaches.
• Complex analyses of neural activity (big data).
• Biomarkers (targeted metabolomics studies of neurotransmission systems, steroids and endocannabinoids, biomarkers of drug exposure)
• Neuroimaging techniques in humans
• To promote and support excellence in basic and clinical research, including co-morbidities with other health problems, and to provide opportunities for transversal and collaborative research with IMIM programmes and Parc de Salut Mar services.
• To encourage multidisciplinary research, including the opportunities provided within the IMIM framework at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) in order to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and improve treatment and health services.
• To guarantee the promotion of holistic research amongs students and clinicians through their training in all aspects of neuroscience, mental health and addictions.
• To include the improvement in treatment and health services amongst it medium/long term objectives for all research projects.
• To take advantage of the multidisciplinary approach of the programme (and of the PRBB) so that all the researchers can create synergies to improve the excellence of the research objectives they are promoting.
• To pay special attention to the promotion of research into the areas of psychiatry and neurodegenerative diseases.
• To encourage translational research through the incorporation of young investigators who share this vision.
• To promote collaboration among consolidated research groups and emerging groups and investigators.
• To promote the application of neuroimaging techniques in clinical studies.
• To promote the application of “omics” technologies, particularly those related to genetics (and the expression of genes, polymorphisms and epigenetics) and the metabolome (targeted and untargeted metabolomics) in clinical studies.
• To encourage new opportunities for research into the identification of biomarkers, taking into account the potential of the Programme for the analysis of high- and low-weight compounds with chemical and biological methodologies.
• To promote the incorporation of clinicians in research.
• To promote the incorporation of post-doctoral investigators of excellence in translational research projects.
• To maintain the programme’s training capacity and the current ratio of pre-doctoral students, and to foster assistant physicians’ obtaining doctorates.
• Integrated pharmacology of drugs of abuse.
• Development of animal models of genetic diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders.
• Neurobiology of addiction, pain and intellectual disabilities.
• Genes, endophenotypes and environmental factors associated with substances of abuse, neuropsychiatric disorders and intellectual disabilities.
• Nutrition, cognition and eating disorders.
• Neurofunctionality and language.
Principal Objectives 2016
• To apply for funding of translational research projects with multidisciplinary research teams in order to improve treatment and prevention of cardiovascular, metabolic, psychiatric and cognitive impairment diseases (in particular calls for applications in the new Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation in Health Care (PERIS) 2016-2020).
• To promote activities aimed at dissemination of data to the non-scientific community.
• To consolidate the Neuroscience sessions programme (held twice a month with speakers from and external to PRBB).
• To consolidate cooperative research projects within the framework of Spanish research networks, such as CIBER and RETICS in mental health, rare diseases, obesity and nutrition and addiction.
• To maintain our position regarding the training of doctoral students and master’s degree final practicum.
• To increase our collaboration with industry through the government programme R&D&I Aimed at Societal Challenges, and by co-development or development agreements on clinical studies, thus contributing to the application and marketing of the results of the R&D.
• To apply to calls for grants aimed at encouraging research value and at mentoring for the creation of prototypes and proof of concept.
• To maintain the positioning of BAPP as a TECNIO center and obtain renewal of the quality certificate UNE-EN ISO 9001, as well as participate in the hiring of highly qualified research personnel through the TECNIOSPRING- fellowship programme.
• To maintain our positioning with respect to the diffusion of research in publications in the first decile.