The Hospital del Mar Research Institute celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2023. Inaugurated on 5 June, 1948, by Sir Alexander Fleming, Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of penicillin, the Hospital del Mar Research Institute is the oldest active research centre in Spain.
Strategically located in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) and next to the Hospital del Mar, the institute stands out for its biomedical research of excellence, focused on translational research that seeks to address biomedical problems and apply them to clinical practice.
To celebrate its 75 years of history, the following events were held:
- A commemorative exhibition on the Passeig Marítim during the summer months of 2023.
- A scientific conference in November 2023 in the PRBB auditorium.
- A closing ceremony in January 2024, with the presentation of the book “75 years researching for people’s health” by Daniel Venteo on the present, past and future of the institute.
A history linked to the city
The exhibition curated by the historian Daniel Venteo – also author of the book on the history of the institute – looked back at its beginnings, marked by research in microbiology and immunology during Franco’s regime, and closely linked to the epidemics that the city suffered until the 1970s. In fact, the Institute was born out of the tropical medicine research pavilion at the Hospital del Mar, inaugurated by Flemming in 1948. Over the decades, it became an independent centre and a benchmark in biomedical research, with more than 700 professionals currently working to bring the fruits of their work to the public.
The Hospital del Mar Research Institute is currently a benchmark in biomedical research, with more than 700 professionals working to bring the fruits of their work to the public.
One of the key moments was in 1984, when Jordi Camí – the current director of the PRBB – became director of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute. At that time, the centre was expanded and modernised, incorporating professionals from fields such as pharmacology, biomedical informatics, epidemiology and public health. Among other things, these new research groups discovered the cause of the numerous outbreaks of asthma in the city: the inhalation of dust from the soya beans that were unloaded in the port of Barcelona.
The exhibition reviewed the main historical milestones, as well as the current research and future challenges of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute.
Other milestones were in 2000, when the Hospital del Mar Research Institute (then still called IMIM) became linked to the Pompeu Fabra University; and in 2013, when it became a Health Research Institute accredited by the Carlos III Health Institute of the Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Currently, the centre is organised into five major research programmes, addressing the areas of oncology, epidemiology, biomedical informatics, neurosciences, and translational clinical research. In addition, it is characterised by a current strategy focused on attracting talent and promoting younger scientific personnel, and establishing alliances with entities such as the Pompeu Fabra University, the Barcelonaβeta Brain Research Center and other prestigious institutions in the PRBB and beyond. They are also committed to gender equality, with more than half of the institute’s current professionals being women.
Science that benefits people
The annual scientific retreat held in November included a round table discussion open to all with the former directors, moderated by Jessica Mouzo, a journalist specialised in science and health for the newspaper El País. At the event, the current and previous directors gave a very personal review highlighting the significant changes in management and the impact of research over the years.
From left to right, the last directors of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute (Jordi Martínez, Josep M Antó, Joaquín Arribas, Jordi Camí, Miquel López-Botet and Rafael de la Torre) and the manager of the Hospital del Mar, Olga Pané.
In the afternoon, several group leaders gave a detailed overview of the most outstanding research at the centre in recent years, from oncology to microproteins and epidemiology.
On a more internal level, the following day a meeting was held between the institute’s management and the coordinators of the research groups to define the institutional strategy for the coming years, with a special focus on trends in biomedical research and the transfer of knowledge to society and the productive sector.
Coordinators of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute’s research groups
A commemorative book
The closing ceremony of the events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute took place on 17 January, with a ceremony in the auditorium of the PRBB where the book ‘75 years researching for people’s health‘ was presented; a special edition coordinated by the curator of the commemorative programme, historian and museologist, Daniel Venteo.
The event was attended by the President of the Generalitat (Catalan government), Pere Aragonès, who stressed that “our country’s health sciences research is one of the driving forces behind progress, growth and the generation of opportunities”. The Mayor of Barcelona, Jaume Collboni, and the Spanish Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Universities, Juan Cruz Cigudosa, also took part in the ceremony that closed the celebrations.
“The Hospital del Mar is in the midst of a process of renewal and we, its research institute, are at a time of attracting talent, generational renewal and consolidation of lines of research. We are proud to reach this moment with such good prospects for the future,” concluded the current director, Joaquín Arribas.