Anna Torres Garrote
The Government of Catalonia's former director general for Health Research and Innovation is now joining the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya to lead Southern Europe's number one e-health research centre
Albert Barberà Lluís is taking up the position of director at the UOC's eHealth Center, which opened its doors two years ago as Southern Europe's first academic centre for e-health. Having decided to step down from his previous role as director general for Health Research and Innovation for the Government of Catalonia, he began his new position at the helm of the UOC's e-health expertise hub on Friday 5 July.
Barberà holds a degree in Chemistry and Pharmacy and a doctoral degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Barcelona (UB), later balancing this scientific training with a postgraduate course in Financial Management at Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). He also has experience in research management, thanks to holding a master's degree in Management and Leadership in Research, a programme run jointly by the UPF, the UB and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).
His professional career has combined this experience in research with knowledge management and innovation in the field of biomedical research and health. His level of expertise touches upon many areas, from project management and knowledge management and innovation, to the definition, implementation and assessment of institutional strategy policies to promote research, as well as talent recruitment and retention programme roll-out and assessment.
After completing a postdoctoral stay at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, now the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and The Rockefeller University, he joined the team at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS), first as a researcher and later as a national and international project manager. From 2016 to 2017 he was also the general manager of Biocat, where he promoted e-health as one of the five focus areas for the BioRegion, Catalonia's healthcare and life sciences ecosystem. A long-time proponent of e-health, he even wrote an article titled "L’eHealth ajudarà a posar el pacient en el centre del sistema" (E-health will help to place patients at the centre of the debate) for Gaceta Médica, in which he highlighted the cultural changes we need to introduce in order to achieve a healthcare system that is focused on patients, and how doctors need to take a step back from their paternalistic attitude. He also suggested that the industry should be studying how patients and patient associations can start to work together. All these matters fall wholly in line with the eHealth Center's mission.
Since 2008, Barberà has had various jobs related to science management, first of all as manager of CIBERDEM, the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas, at the Institute of Health Carlos III, then later as scientific coordinator for IDIBAPS and as director of the Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IdIBGi).
About the eHealth Center
The eHealth Center is a cross-disciplinary academic centre open to the world that generates, transfers and shares e-health knowledge. Its aim is to educate and empower both professionals and ordinary citizens through the use of digital technologies so that they might lead the paradigm shift in health. It is people-centred, using research, education and guidance to contribute to social progress and well-being.
Among its other objectives, it aims to help society fulfil the challenges set out by the UN's 2030 Agenda as regards health and well-being. This is why the UOC is leading the working group related to Sustainable Development Goal no. 3 on good health and well-being, as part of the IAU working group's strategy on higher education and research for sustainable development.
The UOC's commitment to the field of digital healthcare goes back to 2001, when it set up the Project Internet Catalonia (a groundbreaking project in Europe that has won various awards) under the leadership of Manuel Castells, with the aim of analysing the impact of ICT in various spheres of society and human activity. One of the dimensions of the analysis took place precisely in the field of health. This marked the start of a long journey of multidisciplinary research projects in the field of e-health, well-being and quality of life.