The year 2009 has been very good for the IDIBELL research group on Cardiovascular Diseases, which has achieved more than 350 points of impact factor, with an average of nearly seven points per published article. Angel Cequier, group leader and Head of the Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Cardiology at Bellvitge University Hospital, attributes this success to a chance.
Congratulations on the results obtained in 2009.
Thanks, but we must be very careful because the result of the last year’s impact factor has a cyclical component, because several publications appeared simultaneously from the different lines of research comprising Cardiovascular Diseases group. It is a difficult result to maintain each year because our group is formed exclusively by clinical investigators. This means that we have a large volume of medical activity and we cannot devote as much time as we would like to do research. Now, one of the main objectives is join researchers with a more basic approach.
What projects do you have to achieve this goal?
Within a few months we will finish a new cardiovascular research laboratory, located in the hospital Duran i Reynals. This space will be devoted to research on lipids and thrombosis and platelet function, and focus to make a basic research closely linked to the clinic. The laboratory is headed by a cardiologist —Dr. Ferreiro— who has a lot of experience in basic research. This facility will be a radical change in how our research group investigates.
Do you collaborate with other research groups of IDIBELL?
Unfortunately, very timely. I think we need to know the activity of other IDIBELL research groups. I am sure we have researchers in IDIBELL that could answer many of our questions, but actually we don’t know the research we are doing.
Cardiovascular diseases are highly prevalent. What is the research doing to improve the treatment of these diseases, in short and medium term?
The most prevalent cardiac disease is coronary disease, i.e. ischemic heart disease. In this field, we are very well positioned from the standpoint of health care and research. The fact that people live more years, implies the emergence of new diseases. Twenty five years ago, a patient of 68 years was old, and in the hospital was unusual to attend patients aged 75 or 80 years. Now, it is very common. The aging population requires us to give a different answer to many heart diseases. We do not know whether specific treatment strategies that worked in younger patients are also effective in older people. This is a very important field in which to develop our research in coronary and atherosclerotic disease.
During the last years we are experiencing a change in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, with the incorporation of new techniques of interventional cardiology, for example, that makes less need for surgery.
Indeed, cardiology is a specialty that has undergone a major technological development in recent years. From a treatment perspective, and this also influences the research we do, Bellvitge University Hospital is very well positioned in the use of these technologies. For example, we are leaders in Catalonia in coronary revascularization. We are well aware of the importance of implementing technology into clinical practice, and it allows the development of certain lines of research.
Now, we have intracoronary stents that release certain types of drugs inside the arteries, and soon, we will have other stents that are biodegradable. Another fact that is revolutionizing the health care and the research is the treatment of acute myocardial infarction with primary angioplasty. This is an exciting research field, because we still do not know many aspects of how the heart responds to the opening of the artery. Consider that only a few years ago, we had not specific treatments for these patients; they were left in bed and sometimes they cure and sometimes not. All these technologies are opening up attractive lines of research.
What is your perception of IDIBELL?
The change that has occurred over the past two years is extremely positive. Now the strategic lines are much clearer. I recognize specially the commitment of the hospital management in supporting research.
Do you think IDIBELL represents enough the research performed by Bellvitge Hospital staff?
When we have spent twenty years in the wilderness, it is difficult, sometimes. It is often difficult to try to find consensus, establish common goals for all people who are part of IDIBELL. I think we are on the right track, but we still have work to do. Anyway, we always tend to be very demanding of what touches us closely. When I talk about the structure of IDIBELL in the rest of Spain or even in other countries, I realize that our organization is quite positive.