On July 6, 2007 an important agreement between the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) –now ISGlobal Campus Mar– and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), the Institut Municipal d'Ássistance Sanitaire (IMAS) and the University Paris-Sud 11, was signed in order to create an international laboratory with the aim of promoting research in the field of respiratory epidemiology.

Obstructive lung disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are some of the most significant and growing problem which will face the public health in the future. Under this important agreement to work together with CREAL –now ISGlobal Campus Mar–, directed by Josep Maria Antó teacher and professor at the Pompeu Fabra University, two groups of French INSERM, specifically, the research group in epidemiology and biostatistics (Villejuif France ), under the direction of Francine Kauffmann, and the group of lung cancer research, led by Christian Brambilla, located in Grenoble (France).

The fields of action of this new collaboration is mainly French-Catalan research in chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) in adults, asthma and other lung diseases, research on environmental determinants of health such as respiratory occupational hazards, air pollution, physical activity, diet, contact with animals il'exposició certain products in interiors, as well as other forms of genetic research in nature and/or biological. However, we have defined two priority areas of collaboration: on the one hand approaches to improve the epidemiological phenotyping in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and secondly the joint genetic and environmental factors .

The basis of the laboratory is made up of one person from each institution (J. M. Antó and F. Kauffmann), and for each area of research there is a team composed of people from both participating countries. Among the activities to be undertaken under the agreement there will be regular short visits of senior researchers, exchanges of several months' duration for doctoral students and junior researchers, scientific papers that foster the common professional development of researchers associated; organization of workshops and development of new projects in priority areas.

The incidence of asthma has more than doubled in the last three decades, affecting at least 5% of adults and 10% of children in the general population. By 2020 COPD is expected to be the third leading cause of death worldwide, and growing source of disability. Although the role of risk factors has been established, such as the importance of smoking in COPD, we still lack knowledge to prevent patients from getting sick or obstructive diseases to avoid worsening. Classical assumptions, such as the direct influence of inhaled allergens in asthma, have been questioned. New hypotheses have been formulated, including the potential protective role that has contact with infectious agents in early life, the harmful effects of domestic cleaning agents in their adult life in the case of asthma, or the nature systemic COPD.

There is growing evidence that obstructive lung diseases are heterogeneous, both at the phenotypic level as in the etiological, which is necessary to delineate a set of effective prevention and therapy. These approaches require extensive experience in assessing environmental exposure, the phenotypic characterization and analytical strategies.

The association arising from the signing of this significant collaboration agreement for research must provide a sustainable structure for computers that are already part of the Network of Excellence Global Asthma il'Al Allergy and numerous national and international networks, and should increase European competitiveness and visibility of the crucial challenges posed by respiratory epidemiology to health professionals.

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