Twenty people, from student groups to retired couples, visited the facilities of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) on Tuesday 19 March in the first “Visit La Marató research” session of the year. The objective of this initiative by the Fundació La Marató de TV3 – a foundation that raises funds for research in a big annual event in Catalonia – is to give back to society that make research possible thanks to their solidarity.
The visitors, including some regular donors to La Marató, could learn first hand about the project of Montse Fitó, an IMIM researcher, who received more than €130,000 in the 2014 edition, focused on heart disease.
The visit started with a welcome from both La Marató and IMIM personnel, followed by the presentation of the project and the staff that made it possible. Fitó, a researcher with 20 years of experience at the IMIM, presented her team saying that this project was special for her: “it makes me feel very proud, because the funding comes directly from the citizens.”
“This project funded by La Marató makes me feel very proud, because the funding comes directly from the citizens”
Mediterranean diet for a healthy heart
The aim of Fitó’s project is to study the mechanisms of prevention of cardiovascular diseases by the Mediterranean diet. Previous studies have shown that following a traditional Mediterranean diet (rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and low in red meat, dairy and processed foods) can reduce the risk of suffering from myocardial infarction or stroke by 30%.
Now, her team wants to find out what is the mechanism underlying this prevention. Its focus is HDL (the ‘good cholesterol’), which generally increases with physical activity and with a diet rich in omega 3, such as fish. The HDL is able to extract the cholesterol that remains deposited in the arterial walls and transport it to the liver for its elimination. The laboratory lead by Fitó wants to check if the problem in people who have a heart attack is HDL levels or their functionality. That’s why they are comparing HDL in people who have had a heart attack with people who have not had it.
The team of researchers explained in a very clear way the entire procedure, from the time they took the samples to their analysis, and then the visitors could see in first person the facilities where each step takes place.
Unit of clinical trials
Laboratory and data management
Two hours after the start of the visit, the group of citizens said goodbye to the PRBB on the 5th floor to see the views of this singular building. The feedback from the visitors was very positive, as you can see in this video (in Catalan).
Cycle “Visit the La Marató research”
The La Marató Foundation has programmed 25 visits from March to June 2019, where the public will be able to visit the laboratories where scientists funded by La Marató will explain how they are conducting their research. The IMIM, which from 2016 hosts two or three of these visits per year, will receive another group of visitors on May 21 at 4 pm. The visits are free but you must register through the web tv3.cat/marato.
La Marató Foundation has raised more than 183 million euros in 27 editions, which have helped finance 829 research projects all over Catalonia.