Severo Ochoa Programme

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).

    Supported education activities: Summer School 2021, Spring School 2022,  Summer School 2022, Spring School 2023, Summer School 2023, and an extra course module on exposome research (in Spanish): >2,600 trained students (93% international – from 125 different countries, 81% from LMICs).
  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)


The ISGlobal Severo Ochoa Grant Contributed to Boost Postdocs Career

The postdoctoral researchers recruited through our Severo Ochoa Programme since 2020 have now been awarded competitive and prestigious fellowships, such as the Ramon y Cajal Postdoctoral Fellowship from the MCINN, the MSCA Postdoctoral Individual Fellowship from the European Union, the Daniel Carasso Foundation Fellowship for young postdocs committed to food systems and sustainable diets (only 2 available in all of Spain), the Sara Borrell Postdoctoral Fellowship from the ISCIII, and other fellowships, such as the research grants from the La Marató de TV3 Foundation.

Some of the Severo Ochoa postdocs have also been recognized internally for their excellent research contributions and thus promoted to Assistant Research Professors.

In the following lines, some of them talk about their postdoctoral experience at ISGlobal under the Severo Ochoa Programme and how it helped to progress in their career.


Carolina Donat

«I am grateful for the opportunity to have completed my postdoc at ISGlobal over the past two years. During this time, I gained valuable knowledge and experience in the Water Pollution research group under the exceptional guidance of Cristina Villanueva. Additionally, I had the opportunity to attend monthly seminars and activities to learn from other research groups. I have had the opportunity to learn from the excellent research conducted by other groups through monthly seminars and activities. It is impressive to see the amount of quality data available for new hypotheses. Additionally, I would like to emphasize the facilities and the fresh, international atmosphere at ISGlobal, which are helpful and motivating on a daily basis. I would also like to mention the communication department, which has always been interested in my research and has taught me a lot about how to disseminate science. Equally important are the computer scientists, who are extremely professional and always available for all kinds of technical matters. They have been a great support over the years. All these factors and people contribute to ISGlobal's excellence and enable postdocs like me to use our full potential for the benefit of science.»

(Ramón y Cajal fellowship - Severo Ochoa postdoc in Cristina Villanueva's team)


Ujué Fresán

«My postdoctoral research at ISGlobal has expanded my knowledge of nutrition. As a nutritional epidemiologist, I had the chance to implement an intervention that promotes sustainable diets using innovative technologies, such as mobile applications, within ISGlobal's new eHealth group. Having a broad perspective on a topic is essential for my career, particularly in my case as an Assistant Research Professor at ISGlobal focusing on sustainable diets. This will undoubtedly be very useful, especially with the grant recently awarded to me by the Daniel Carasso Foundation.»

(Daniel Carasso Foundation fellowship - Severo Ochoa postdoc in Guillaume Chevance's team)


Ariadna Curto

«My postdoctoral research at ISGlobal has been crucial in furthering my study on the effects of air pollution on health, particularly in low-income countries. During my time there, I researched the impact of smoke from forest and cropland fires on child health in Mozambique. This allowed me to acquire new statistical skills and publish my findings in a renowned and impactful journal, Lancet Planetary Health. Additionally, I coordinated two monitoring campaigns, one of which generated the first time series of particulate matter in Mozambique. This experience has not only broadened my knowledge and skills but has also been key to obtaining the prestigious Sara Borrell grant from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. This grant will allow me to continue my research at the Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de las Islas Baleares (IdISBa).»

(ISCIII's Sara Borrell felloship - Severo Ochoa postdoc in Cathryn Tonne and Quique Bassat's team)


Lea Maitre

«The ISGlobal Severo Ochoa Programme allowed me to lead exciting initiatives, a cross-programme hub—the first in ISGlobal—, organising internal and external events such as the Data Challenge with prestigious universities, annual courses with LMIC students, which ultimately allowed me to build a strong personal network in my field and strengthen the overall position of ISGlobal, both locally and internationally.  As part of the SO Programme, I received the SO Grant for young mother researchers. This grant provided me with more flexibility, allowing me to balance my new maternal responsibilities while still being involved in important research calls.»

(Ramon y Cajal fellowship and a grant from La Marató de TV3 Foundation 2021 - Severo Ochoa postdoc in Martine Vrijheid's team)

Our Team

Our Team