Eighteen years after the publication of the human genome, we know that there is still a long way to go in studying the genome and its relationship to health. Today, the Research Institute of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau - IIB Sant Pau and the Autonomous University of Barcelona have taken a step forward to shorten this path and bring genomic research closer to medicine and clinical practice, with the creation of the Mixed Research Unit in Genomic Medicine UAB - IR Sant Pau. The new unit was inaugurated today in an event attended by Dr. Javier Lafuente, rector of the UAB; Dr. Manel Balcells, chairman of the board of the Research Institute, Dr. Jordi Bachs, managing director of the Private Foundation Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and Dr. Jordi Surrallés, director of the Sant Pau Research Institute.
The Joint Research Unit in Genomic Medicine UAB - IR Sant Pau is a commitment that has had the support of the Private Foundation Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which has funded the works adaptation of the space for the laboratory giving rise at 177 m2 for state-of-the-art research. For its part, the UAB will provide the Sant Pau Research Institute for the next 6 years, the equivalent of the cost of the work for the creation and start-up of this unit. In this new space, the mixed unit focuses, above all, on the diagnosis, pathophysiology and development of new therapies for genetic and oncological diseases and tumor predisposition syndromes.
"The research we do at the Research Institute of the Hospital de la Santa Creu y Sant Pau is translational and by our nature, we connect research with clinical practice. The creation of the joint research unit in Genomic Medicine UAB - IR Sant Pau further strengthens our mission by incorporating basic research, training professionals in this field so important for personalized and precision medicine and completing the cycle "says Dr. Jordi Surrallés, director of the Sant Pau Research Institute and professor and professor at the ICREA UAB Academy. “It is important to build bridges between academia, biomedical research centers and hospitals to strengthen the triple mission of high-complexity hospitals such as Hospital de Sant Pau: care, research and teaching; and to encourage spaces, such as this unit, where this interaction materializes. ”, he concludes.
For his part, the Rector of the UAB, Javier Lafuente, explains: “The UAB is a benchmark in the field of biomedicine and genetics, being the only university in Spain to offer a degree in Genetics, and the creation of the Joint Research Unit in Genomic Medicine UAB - IR Sant Pau reaffirms the University's commitment to this field ”. The rector highlights the satisfaction of “having a unit of this nature, the first joint unit of the UAB in this field, with researchers from both institutions working together in the research of genetic diseases, their diagnosis and its treatment ”.
The unit materializes today but was under the mandate of the previous director of the Research Institute, Dr. Jaume Kulisevsky, whose project began to take shape in 2017 when Dr. Jordi Surrallés, Professor at the UAB, joined as Director of the Genetics Service at Sant Pau Hospital to join his research group in the Sant Pau environment. In November 2019, a collaboration agreement was signed between the three institutions that have made it possible. And now, once the works are completed, the research group coordinated by Dr. Jordi Surrallés is the one who occupies this new space from where they will carry out their research projects. The team of the unit currently consists of 17 people with multidisciplinary profiles including experts in biology, genetics, medicine, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics or data science.
Understand genomic instability to protect us from cancer and advance in personalized medicine
The research group that forms the unit works in the field of human genetic diseases, characterized by a high predisposition to cancer. Many of these syndromes are caused by mutations in genes involved in DNA repair. These genes are important in preventing the buildup of mutations and preventing tumor transformation.
Research on these syndromes is important to unravel the mechanisms that protect us from cancer. There are increasingly new therapeutic strategies based on deep knowledge of the genetic causes of the disease. Therefore, proper genetic diagnosis is important not only to provide good genetic counseling and clinical follow-up to patients and their families, but also to provide personalized medicine based on genomic information.
Original news in UAB's website.