The directors Joan J. Guinovart and Joan Massagué present the MetCentre
during an institutional visit by the President of the Government of
Today the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), headed by Joan J. Guinovart, has announced the set up of the MetCentre, a suprastructure for interdisciplinary research into metastasis, under the scientific coordination of Joan Massagué. Metastasis, that is to say the spread of cancer from the initial tumour to other organs, is responsible for 90% of the deaths caused by cancer. The announcement of the establishment of the centre has been made during a visit by the President of the Government of Catalonia, José Montilla, to IRB Barcelona installations, which are located in the Barcelona Science Park.
The outstanding experts and technologists brought together in IRB Barcelona make it an excellent setting in which to address the complexities of cancer and metastasis that cannot be tackled by a single research group. In the opinion of the directors of IRB Barcelona, the institute has reached the level of maturity necessary to build a transversal programme around The Metastasis Laboratory. This programme includes IRB Barcelona groups working in the fields of chemistry, biophysics and computation, which in turn collaborate with expert clinicians in other research centres around Barcelona. Furthermore, IRB Barcelona has established and developed a set of cutting-edge technologies and experimental methodologies to analyse the processes behind tumour development and metastasis. Finally, the institute is supported by Joan Massagué, an international authority in the field of basic oncology.
The integral projects that are about to be started by the MetCentre address “Breast Cancer Metastasis”, which is funded by the BBVA Foundation, and, as soon as funding from philanthropic sources is agreed upon, a second project on “Colon Cancer Metastasis”.
The first phase of investigation will involve the researchers Eduard Batlle, Elena Sancho, Roger Gomis, Modesto Orozco, Patrick Aloy, and Joan Massagué. The members of IRB Barcelona have already established collaboration projects with “Hospital Clínic-Idibaps”, “Vall d’Hebron-VHIO” and the “Hospital del Mar”. In addition, strategic agreements have been made with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, an organisation that manages the MareNostrum supercomputer.
The MetCentre is an ambitious project worthy of social participation and commitment and it provides a unique opportunity to attract philanthropic donations. Some research lines and projects undertaken at IRB Barcelona are already supported by funds from private foundations, among these the BBVA Foundation and the Marcelino Botín Foundation, and organisations such as the “Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer” (Spanish Cancer Association).
Devoted to basic and applied biomedical research of excellence, IRB Barcelona is a public centre in which biology, chemistry, and structural and computational biology converge, with a special focus on cancer. There are currently 430 people from 35 countries working at IRB Barcelona and the research is performed by 28 groups that belong to five complementary programmes. In the four years since its set-up, IRB Barcelona has built six high performance technology platforms to support research activities. The institute was founded by the Government of Catalonia in October 2005 and its operating budget for 2009 amounts to 25 million euros.
The research undertaken at IRB Barcelona has a particular focus on cancer; however, it also includes cutting-edge projects on diseases with a high incidence rate, such as diabetes and obesity, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases, and also studies on pathologies classified as rare diseases.
In 2008, the scientists at IRB Barcelona developed 138 research projects and published 159 scientific articles in highly prestigious international journals. IRB Barcelona coordinates 3 wide-scale European projects, participates in another 6 European projects and has received funding from the European Research Council. One of the missions set by IRB Barcelona is to generate wealth and new technology-based enterprises. In this regard, the institute has formed its first spin-off, Omnia Molecular S.L., devoted to the search for new antibiotics following a more efficient procedure developed by the researcher Lluis Ribas, and in 2008 the laboratories published 13 patent applications
Another of the missions set by IRB Barcelona is to train future scientific leaders in an exciting international and competitive environment. The laboratories currently host 152 PhD students from 25 countries and 95 post-doctoral fellows, 40% of who are non-Spanish nationals. IRB Barcelona is one of the four institutes in Spain that receives the prestigious “la Caixa” fellowships for PhD students in biomedicine, a funding programme that attracts the most talented candidates from around the world.
Through the Barcelona Biomed series, funded by the BBVA Foundation, the institute has invited more than 1500 international scientists to Barcelona to debate hot topics in worldwide biomedical research.
With the expansion of the Barcelona Science Park, IRB Barcelona plans to reach a critical mass of 700 members, 40 research groups and 10 scientific platforms in 2014. The growth of the institute will allow it to take on highly complex and ambitious projects that call for complementary disciplines and expertise, and state-of-the-art technologies, such as the MetCentre programme presented today.