The visit of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of CREAL, an ISGlobal allied centre, took place on March 10-11, to evaluate the research developed over the last three years (2013-2015). The internationally renowned scientists who take part at CREAL’s SAC, chaired by Prof David Savitz, provide recommendations and advise so that CREAL keeps producing high-quality research and being a world-class centre in environmental epidemiology.
CREAL researchers presented the activity of the different programs (respiratory, cancer, child health, air pollution, water pollution and radiation) and ongoing research in global health as well as the teaching and translation activities that have been carried out.
Josep M Antó, director of CREAL, presented the current situation of the centre: “CREAL has a great capacity of attracting international scientific talent. One of the obsessions of CREAL is the collaboration across programs and group leaders. Our competitive research portfolio in 2015 is 68 active grants, 31 international projects (22 European projects), among others. Some new European Projects are CHAI, led by Cathryn Tonne, ALEC with a key role of Judith Garcia, BlueHealth with Mark Nieuwenhuijsen leading a work package on impact assessment and blue areas, and Shamisen led by Elisabeth Cardis”.
CREAL has a leading role in international projects and networks. “Our total number of publications keeps growing: in 2015 we published 181 articles, half of them in the top decile of the corresponding classification of research journals, and 143 publications as international collaborations", said Antó. According to the international Scimago Institution Rankings, CREAL is consistently among the top research centres in Spain during the last years. Dr Antó referred to the international workshops and conferences organized by CREAL in the last three years, and stressed the importance of the scientific services at CREAL for the development of daily activities and for the ISGlobal integration.
Related with education and training, Dr Antó noted the extensive participation in postgraduate programs including the Master in Public Health, and the PhD program chaired by Manolis Kogevinas. In 2013-2015, 39 PhD students developed their research at CREAL, and 14 theses were successfully defended. Dr Antó noted the importance of continued collaborations with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the BCN City Council and also the importance of CREAL’s participation in outreach projects, such as Citi-Sense, Esaire and Pasta. Finally, Dr Antó remarked on the different challenges and stressed the need to reinforce excellence and leadership in our international calls (ERC, H2020,…).
Fourth visit of the SAC
According the SAC, “CREAL has established itself as an outstanding research institution, providing one of the world’s leading programs in environmental epidemiology". Across the full range of activities, there is a premium on the highest level of scientific excellence, as reflected in the publication of the researchers that are based at CREAL. The research culture emphasizes innovation, rigor, impact, productivity, and collaboration”.
The SAC’s fourth visit to CREAL took place at an important period for the centre. In June, CREAL will complete the strategic integration with ISGlobal, to develop a new world-class center for research, education and transfer in global health and this issue was extensively discussed. Dr Antó together with Dr Plasència, Director of ISGlobal, Dr G. Capella, head of research and innovation of the Health Department of the Government of Catalonia, and Dr L Rovira, director of CERCA, remarked in a final session their gratitude to the SAC for their advice.