Severo Ochoa Programme

Severo Ochoa logo

In October 2019, ISGlobal was named a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence by the Spanish State Research Agency, a body affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

This accreditation recognises the excellence, scientific contributions, social and economic impact, and talent-attracting capacity of Spanish research centres in Spain. The purpose of the award is to fund and distinguish centres and public units that have developed highly competitive, cutting-edge research programmes positioned among the best in the world in their respective scientific fields. The award provides €4 million in funding over a four-year period to develop the institutional strategic plan.

ISGlobal is the only centre in epidemiology and global public health accredited as a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence. The accreditation represents therefore a tremendous boost for this research field in Spain and abroad.

3 x 3 Approach

The Severo Ochoa programme has been integrated in the institutional Strategic Plan 2019-2023 to reinforce ISGlobal international leadership through promotion of integrative interdisciplinary science and its translation into significant impact.

The Severo Ochoa programme is based on a 3 x 3 approach that will reinforce the three institutional strategic research areas with three new cross-disciplinary groups with strong focus on frontier methods and technologies.

The three new groups will address current strategic research challenges in:

These new groups will prioritize the implementation of the methods and technologies in the three internationally recognized research areas of ISGlobal which are developed by the nine research programmes:

  • Malaria and other infectious diseases
  • Maternal and child health
  • Urban health, climate and non-communicable diseases.

The promotion of interdisciplinary science will facilitate the development of cutting-edge science and innovation.

Figure: 3 x 3 structure of Severo Ochoa Programme. Each of the nine research programmes of ISGlobal converge in one (or more) of the three major research areas. The development of close interactions between the new cross-disciplinary groups on methods and technology and the research groups in each of the major areas will reinforce ISGlobal’s scientific excellence, synergies and integration.

Key Initiatives

Some examples of key initiatives promoted by the Severo Ochoa Programme are:

  1. Development of two new ambitious research Hubs: (i) the Exposome Hub: exposome research (research on advanced omics/biological pathways combined with advanced methods in exposure assessment such as sensors, satellite imaging, etc) has been considered a priority of the EC in the H2020 programme and it is powerfully represented by research groups at ISGlobal, (ii) the Implementation Science Hub: the field of implementation science (or implementation research) is a fairly new field of study which has gained momentum internationally and refers to the scientific study of methods and strategies that facilitate the uptake of evidence-based practice and research into regular use by practitioners and policymakers.
  2. Establishment of a collaboration on Environmental Health Research, with the Manhiça Health Research Centre (CISM, Mozambique) to promote research in Environmental Health in Southern Africa and consolidate ISGlobal long-standing strategic partnership with CISM.
  3. Development of international initiatives and educational activities on Planetary Health.

  4. Strengthening of the PhD and postdoctoral programmes (talent attraction). In this regard, the Severo Ochoa accreditation has enabled the institute to launch two international PhD Calls, the Severo Ochoa International PhD Call in Global Health 2020 and 2021, through which 16 scholarships for national and international students have been offered. Also, in 2021, an international postdoctoral call has been launched, the Severo Ochoa International Postdoctoral Call in Global Health 2021, to assign three fellowships for interdisciplinary postdoctoral research in Global Health.
  5. Expansion and consolidation of its current education portfolio on Global Health in line with the 3 x 3 approach and through an extension of the e-learning component. In line with this, the Severo Ochoa accreditation allowed the institute to organize a series of online International Summer and Spring Schools in Global Health, which proposes a unique interdisciplinary teaching programme, with the objective to give an in-depth overview of cross-cutting methods for global health (as HIA, eHealth, Data Science and exposome methods) and address key global health challenges (as climate change, planetary health, circadian disruption, and the societal impact of infectious diseases). 
  6. Promoting the organization of international workshops and training opportunities to stimulate scientific debate on cross-cutting theme. 
  7. Promotion of women in science “ The Gender Action Plan”. Example of key activities to reinforces the Gender Action Plan:
    • Annual economic support for for young female researchers with maternal responsibilities
    • Leadership Programme for Junior Women in Science organized by ‘The sky is the limit’ consulting company and offered by Alicia Marín Muniesa
    • Participation in the 3rd SOMMA Gender Equality Event to discuss practical topics, such as effective communication and mentoring, on gender plans and actions
    • Support the Women in Global Health (WGH) - Spanish Chapter  initiative
  8. Support the SDGs Agenda at ISGlobal. With the aim to contribute to the organization’s strategic agenda for global development, ISGlobal became, in February 2020, a member of the ‘Catalonia Alliance 2030’, a participatory process to devise a National Agreement for the 2030 Agenda in Catalonia.

In summary, by addressing the themes and challenges of the Strategic plan through the Severo Ochoa programme, ISGlobal will significantly advance in its mission to generate knowledge, promote international leadership and collaboration, train the next generation of scientists and create value for society.

Main impact of first 2 years (2020-2021)

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