In 2018, IMIM passed the audit for reaccreditation as a health care research institute of the Carlos III Institute of Health (ISCIII). On 29 January 2019, the Secretary General of Scientific Policy Coordination of the Spanish Ministry of Science, Education and Universities approved the renewal of the accreditation of IMIM as a health care research institute (HCRI), effective from 17 February 2019 to 17 February 2024.
The HR Excellence in Research accreditation was renewed. This accreditation is granted by the European Commission to institutions that work to include the European Charter for Researchers and the code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers in internal human-resource policies and procedures, thus contributing to the development of a European Research Space that is attractive for researchers.
In June, the Board of Governors of the IMIM Foundation approved the new constitution of the IMIM Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), which is made up of a group of prestigious national and international scientists, who are experts in the different areas corresponding to the IMIM research programs. The new SAB met in late October to issue a favorable assessment of the IMIM programs, together with additional recommendations.
An evaluation of adherence to the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan was also carried out by the Board of Governors and the Management Committee, which has shown that, thanks to the good dynamics in place, it will be possible to meet the goals established for 2020.
Scientific production was good in this period, even though, in line with the tendency of the previous year, the total number of publications appears to have stabilized, which represents a turning point compared to the continued growth of recent years.
In 2018 the good results of previous years have been maintained, with nearly 90% of articles published in impact journals and more than 60% in publications in the first quartile.
Nearly 40% of the original articles and reviews are in the 10% of most highly cited papers in the world in their category. Furthermore, 43% of articles are open-access.
This year, Jordi Alonso, codirector of the Epidemiology and Public Health Program, and Montse Fitó, coordinator of the research group on cardiovascular risk and nutrition, are on the list of the world’s most highly cited scientists, published by Clarivate Analytics. The list, which consists of 6000 researchers, includes a total of 34 scientists from Catalan institutions. The scientists on the list have been chosen from among the 1% most cited in 21 fields of research. They are, therefore, those with the greatest impact in their respective research areas.
With regard to research grants, a total of 389 applications were submitted, of which 79 are still awaiting a decision. Thanks to the consistency of the researchers in applying for grants at the international level, more than 10 grants were obtained in recent months, including 4 European projects and 2 projects awarded by American institutions.
In 2018, the Department of Health of the Catalan government has ruled on the second call for grant applications in health care as part of the Strategic Plan for Research and Innovation in Health Care (PERIS), and has awarded IMIM and Hospital del Mar almost one million euros. The grants obtained include 2 proposals for increasing nursing personnel, 4 for taking on technical and scientific staff, and 6 projects aimed at research in mental health (one of them coordinated by the center).
In terms of contracts with private companies, 104 agreements have been signed to carry out services or for sponsorship and 129 agreements have been signed for carrying out clinical trials for an overall sum of ten million euros. The spin-off Chemotargets held its first shareholders’ meeting, with positive results for the 2017-2018 financial year.
A year of new hires and projects
In July, the new head of the IMIM Clinical Research Unit, Dr. Ana Aldea, was hired, with the goal of making the unit more dynamic and providing support for promotors and researchers who want to carry out clinical trials. Two new research groups were set up. The Girona Heart Register (REGICOR) research group was created within the Epidemiology and Public Health Program and is coordinated by Dr. Jaume Marrugat, and the Neuroimmunology group was created within the Inflammatory and Cardiovascular Processes Program, and is coordinated by Dr. José Enrique Martínez Rodríguez.
Furthermore, this year the management of PSMAR has created the Innovation and Digital Transformation Department, headed by Dr. Jordi Martínez.
The Committee on Integrity in Research and Good Scientific Practices (CIR-GSP) was presented. The committee is made up of IMIM management and is currently chaired by Roberto Elosua. The functions of the committee are to develop strategies that encourage IMIM research to adhere to the PRBB Code of Good Scientific Practice, ensure that researchers and research-support personnel at IMIM are properly trained in best scientific practices, implement the procedure for investigating potential cases of scientific malpractice, and investigate potential cases of scientific malpractice.
More recently, MARGenomics was presented. This is the new molecular and genomic analysis platform that has been created to serve IMIM and Hospital del Mar research projects and the scientific community in general. The platform integrates all the stages of the genomic analysis process, including the current services of the Biobank and Microarrays. The new platform is managed by the current IMIM Scientific and Technical Services Department, in collaboration with the Anatomical Pathology Department of Hospital del Mar. A human computational biology node has also been created within the MARGenomics platform.
The second edition of the IMIM Retreat was held in July, providing an opportunity to provide visibility to the most important projects being carried out in each research program, with the goal of creating synergies and scientific exchanges between the different groups to improve our scientific competitiveness.
Finally, certification of MARBiobanc and the IMIM Scientific and Technical Services was renewed once again and the institution has made a concerted effort to adapt its website to the responsive format, an improvement that allows the website to adapt its design depending on whether it is being viewed via PC, tablet or mobile phone, with the aim of making browsing and viewing easier.
Corporate social responsibility
The cycle of conferences “Losing our fear of cancer”, which IMIM organized with the Barcelona Network of Libraries with the aim of bringing research closer to the citizens, was held in the last quarter of the year. A total of 700 people took part in the conferences, which shows the interest of the population in matters of health and research. The attendees highlighted the effort made to explain the different aspects surrounding the fight against cancer, the quality of the speakers, and the opportunity to interact in a different environment.
This activity supplements the other scientific outreach activities carried out each year, which include activities aimed at the general public (PRBB open days and visits by the Telethon), activities aimed at secondary-school students (ACCÉS project, visits by international students, scientific talks for students and YOMO) and, finally, activities for younger children, such as “Ask a scientist”.