The UB creates the Chair on Innovation in Precision Oncology

Dr. Aleix Prat, head of the Service of Medical Oncology at Hospital Clínic, head of the Translational genomics and targeted therapies in solid tumours IDIBAPS group and lecturer at the Department of Medicine of the UB, leds the Chair on Innovation in Precision Oncology created by the University of Barcelona, with the support from the pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis.

From left to right, Antoni Castells, Antoni Trilla, Joan Guàrdia, Aleix Prat and Josep M. Campistol.

The chair was presented last friday in the Paranimph of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The rector, Joan Guàrdia, presided the event, and noted that “chairs are a tool to bring University closer to society and to continue promoting cutting-edge knowledge in several disciplines, especially those that, like oncology, have a great impact on people’s lives”.

Implementing precision medicine in oncology means that those decisions regarding the diagnostic, treatment and practise of clinical trials and translational research are based on the patient’s genomic and molecular features. According to Aleix Prat, “it is getting more necessary for experts who diagnose and treat cancer to have a broader knowledge of molecular biology as well as genomics and genetics, clinical and translational research, and a deep knowledge of biological therapies”. In this context, it is crucial to create teaching and research programs of excellence “such as those to be promoted by this chair, aiming to train experts, to prepare them to treat precision medicine that will have a positive impact on the quality of life and the prognostic of patients with cancer”, notes Prat.

Also, the director of the Medical Department in Roche Farma España, Beatriz Pérez, expressed the company’s gratitude for being part of this chair and mentioned that innovation is one of the distinctive traits of Roche. “We feel comfortable in fields like this, where promotion to research and innovation is a priority in favour or patients. This chair shows how collaboration models between private companies such as ours and entities from the academic and research field, such as the University of Barcelona, are summoned to reach great results for society”, she noted.

“Cancer is a constellation of illnesses and its treatment needs a differential approach”, noted Reyes Calzada, medical director of Novartis Oncología. “The identification and study of genes and their mutations allows us to understand the involved mechanisms in the development of cancer and establish diagnostic and therapeutic approaches which are more precise and customized”, she added. In this line, she remembered that it is essential for Novartis to “establish collaboration and knowledge transfer models such as this chair for biomedicine to step forward”.

Other key objectives of the chair are to promote scientific debate and launch an international network of teaching staff and centers of excellence on precision oncology. The chair aims to promote debate on health policy, legislation and ethical and economic aspects, essential to implement innovation in the daily clinical practice.

The event had the participation of the UB professors Antoni Trilla, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences; Josep M. Campistol, general director of Hospital Clínic, and Antoni Castells, medical director of Hospital Clínic.