Presentation of the UB-Gilead Chair of HIV-Viral Hepatitis

This Tuesday, a new edition of the UB-Gilead HIV-Viral Hepatitis Chair was presented. The Chair was created by the University of Barcelona, in collaboration with the company Gilead Sciences. The Chair is focused on training, research, the transfer of research results, and scientific dissemination on the development of research and training strategies in the field of AIDS, hepatitis C and other types of viral hepatitis.

Presentation of the UB-Gilead Chair of HIV-Viral Hepatitis (Picture: Xènia Acebes/UB)

Participants in the presentation included Joan Guàrdia, rector of the UB; Josep Mallolas, director of the Chair, lecturer in the Department of Medicine at the UB and head of the HIV-AIDS Unit at the Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS; María Río, vice-president and general manager of Gilead in Spain; Antoni Trilla, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the UB, and the UB professors Josep Maria Campistol, director general of the Hospital Clínic, and Antoni Castells, medical director of the Hospital Clínic.

In his speech, the rector of the UB, Joan Guàrdia, highlighted the fact that, “the Chair is a great balance of attendance, teaching and research, of all the aspects that make up the university and medical worlds, which reflect the concept of transversality linked to health.”

2021 marks the 40th anniversary of the first reported case of HIV in a human being. Today, this epidemic remains one of the worst pandemics to affect humanity.  A total of 37 million people live with HIV worldwide, and in Spain alone almost 2,700 new cases were reported in 2019 (85% of these being men). On the other hand, viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis C, was very frequent in people infected with HIV around 15 years ago, and was the main cause of death in patients with this virus. Thanks to the research carried out and advances in antiretroviral treatment over the last few years, this infection is considered a chronic disease.

Dr. Mallolas explained that, “at the Hospital Clínic we currently care for and provide antiretroviral treatment for 6,000 patients, which is a very high figure, the highest in Spain and one of the highest in Europe. We have been involved in the research into new drugs and new treatment strategies for at least three decades." The director of the Chair also highlighted the advantages of this collaboration:  “This collaboration agreement will help improve the future health of patients with HIV and different types of viral hepatitis. Moreover, the Chair has a large team of experts from the Hospital Clínic and the UB, with excellent academic and research experience.

Meanwhile, María Río, vice-president and general manager of Gilead Spain, explained that, “we are very proud to collaborate with this Chair with the University of Barcelona. It is yet another example of Gilead's commitment to all patients suffering from diseases such as HIV or viral hepatitis.  Our research work has allowed us to develop treatments that have transformed these patients' lives. However, we believe there are still significant challenges to address in these diseases, and collaboration with an institution as prestigious as the University of Barcelona will enable us to advance in research and the generation of knowledge, and allow us to use this to serve society."

At present, the UB carries out high quality teaching and research activities and scientific development in the field of health, and includes Bachelor’s Degree studies in this subject, as well as the University Master’s Degree in AIDS. Within the context of the UB-GILEAD “HIV-Viral Hepatitis” Research Chair for 2021, three fundamental events have been organized:  the basic theoretical course and on advances in AIDS research; menthorships and awards for the end of Master’s Degree projects, both events being included in the University of Barcelona’s Master’s Degree in AIDS programme, and the organization of Innovation in HIV Pathology workshops.

The UB-GILEAD “HIV-Viral Hepatitis” Chair research staff, led by Dr. Mallolas, have outstanding experience and are made up of Dr. Josep María Miró; Dr. José Alcamí; Dr. Esteban Martínez; Dr. Jose Luís Blanco; Dr. Montserrat Laguno; Dr. Juan Ambrosioni; Dr. María Martínez Rebollar; Dr. Berta Torres; Dr. Alexy Inciarte; Dr. Lorena De la Mora; Dr. Ana González; Dr. Iván Chivite; Dr. David García; Dr. Ainoa Ugarte; Dr. Lorna Leal; Dr. Sonsoles Sánchez-Palomino; and Dr. Nuria Climent.