Just over six months ago, the Catalan Society for Medical Biotechnology (SCBM) was inaugurated. This organisation, part of the Academy of Medical and Health Science of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands (the Academy), aims to improve transversal knowledge of biotechnology so specialists from other disciplines of medicine can help generate synergies in researching and applying new treatments. Professor Francesc Gòdia (Sabadell, 1958) is one of the members of the first board of directors. He has been a full professor of Chemical Engineering at the Autonomous University of Barcelona since 1993, published more than 90 scientific papers and holds 5 patents. Gòdia has carried out a significant part of his research in conjunction with the industry.
You’re one of the promoters of the SCBM. How did this initiative come about?
It was the Academy of Medical and Health Science of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands that identified the growing importance products obtained through biotechnology have in the health arena (diagnostic tools, vaccines, new biodrugs, new therapies, etc.). The Academy invited a highly respected figure in this sector, Dr Andrés G. Fernández, who has also been key in bringing together a group of people, including myself, for the first SCBM board of directors. And, motivated by his enthusiasm, we got to work on this new project.
How has the organisation been received in the biomedical sector?
The Academy is an organisation that channels the generation and transfer of knowledge among medical professionals, with a highly significant number of members, a variety of societies and a good programme of training and dissemination activities. Its reception, and that of its societies, has been very positive. Furthermore, the interest in the first SCBM activities held after its inauguration has been highly motivating.
Who can join the society?
We’re still just getting started and have a modest number of members. We want this group to grow as we hold more activities and the SCBM becomes more well known. The society is open to anyone interested in medical biotechnology who wants to further their knowledge and find a place to meet with other professionals that share their interests.
What are the challenges facing medical biotechnology in Catalonia?
Catalonia has and continues to make a notable effort in terms of education, attracting talent and research of excellence in biotechnology applied to health. Taking into account that there is already a strong pharmaceutical sector, the main challenge we’re facing is to see how the industrial fabric grows and consolidates. This will take time, but the combination of new spin-offs and bringing in existing biotechnology companies should allow us to grow a strong, innovative industrial fabric with a solid scientific foundation.
Tell us briefly about the activities scheduled for 2018.
For 2017-2018, our activities will centre on three main focal points: sessions for the Academy to present the different sectors of biotechnology, joint sessions with other Academy societies, and setting up a training course.
What possible synergies do you see with CataloniaBio companies?
CataloniaBio companies are a very important stakeholder for development in the biotechnology arena applied to health. Therefore, the synergies with SCBM are clear. There has to be continuity among all the elements that make up this sector: education, research, industry, medical professionals, patients and general society. There is no doubt that CataloniaBio companies will find the SCBM quite receptive to carrying out joint projects to boost knowledge and awareness of medical biotechnology in Catalonia.
Photo: Francesc Gòdia at one of the debates held by the International Center for Scientific Debate Barcelona - © Jordi Cabanas / B·Debate / Biocat