CIBER’s Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) subject area currently consists of 45 research groups (43 full member groups, 1 associated group and 1 clinical linked groups), selected on the basis of their scientific excellence, primarily working within three scientific programmes: 1. Bioengineering and Medical Imaging, 2. Biomaterials and Advanced Therapies and 3. Nanomedicine. The centre’s activity focuses on the development of prevention, diagnosis and follow-up systems, the development of technologies related to specific therapies and regenerative medicine and nanotherapies.
CIBER-BBN has been carrying out its work since 2007, providing support, training, infrastructures and resources to researchers and therefore helping to promote scientific research in Spain. The global objectives raised in CIBER-BBN’s strategic plan for the 2018-2021 period includes maintaining the level of scientific-technological excellence of the subject area, promoting collaborative research between CIBER-BBN groups, favouring translational research and making it easier to transfer the research results to the productive sector.
In 2006, Dr. Manuel Doblaré accepted the challenge to head up an enormously innovative centre in Spain. CIBER-BBN was created as a project with huge potential whose visible leader would undoubtedly help position it as a reference in Biomaterials, Bioengineering and Nanomedicine research. Doblaré accepted the exciting chance to lead such an initiative and began to form a structure that would beyond any question mark the centre’s future success.
The first 28 groups became associated to the centre during CIBER-BBN’s first year as a research institution, 2007, and in that same year in a second call for proposals, 21 new groups joined, all of which were selected based on their scientific excellence. The extraordinary work of Manuel Doblaré in integrating these groups and getting them involved in the Scientific Programme was unquestionable. Little by little, the centre’s complex structure became clearer, and the 49 groups began to consolidate collaborations and identify synergies around the intramural research projects with dedication and enthusiasm.
A new group joined the consortium in 2008, which brought the number of groups up to 50, and work continued to strive for research that was increasingly more coordinated and relevant for the society. CIBER-BBN became consolidated in its first three years and was on the path to defining the priority research lines for the upcoming period. The centre began to give more emphasis to aspects in connection with Transfer and Translational Research. 2008 also witnessed the formation of the CIBER-BBN External Scientific Committee, comprised of world renowned individuals without whom some of the most significant goals for the Centre would not have been accomplished.
After four years, the CIBER programme was evaluated by the ISCIII, obtaining an outstanding result. The groups and the projects ending in 2009 were also evaluated for the first time, giving way to a new call for project proposals. The Platform programme was enhanced, acquiring a new structure, and the centre’s internationalisation was strengthened such that CIBER-BBN becomes a part of the international panorama through its participation in events and the establishment of a worldwide collaboration network.
2010 marked a new period for CIBER-BBN under the directives of the 2010-13 Master Plan, indicating the path that the consortium would have to follow in the upcoming years. The search for excellence requires clearly defining the objectives and goals of each of the programmes. Furthermore, 25 new Intramural Projects to be conducted in 2010 and 2011 are finally approved in the new call for proposals. The second evaluation of our CIBER indicates a notable increase in scientific production. In 2008, the groups had a total of 484 publications (articles and reviews) compared to the 626 that were published in 2010.
By combining his work at CIBER with his teaching commitments and research in the tissue engineering field within the GEMM-I3A group, which he also leads, Mr. Doblaré’s exceptional vision has been key for our centre in the 2006-2010 start-up period and in defining CIBER-BBN as a research centre, with a completely novel multidisciplinary and multicentre structure in our sector.
While being strongly committed to the Universidad de Zaragoza, Professor Manuel Doblaré has held several management positions of enormous responsibility as the Director of the Mechanical Engineering Dept., Director and Assistant Director of the Centro Politécnico Superior of said university, Member of the Board of Regents or Director of the Instituto de Investigación en Ingeniería de Aragón (I3A), a position which he simultaneously held for a time while he was director of the CIBER-BBN, among others.
He has been given innumerable awards and recognitions attesting to his professional trajectory. Doblaré was granted an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Técnica of “Cluj-Napoca” (Romania); elected member of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain; permanent member of the Royal Academy of Physical, Chemical and Natural Sciences of Zaragoza; member of the Scientific Board of the Escuela Interpolitécnica de Doctorado of Italy (Bioengineering section); outstanding doctorate award of the UPM, industrial engineering; J.A. Artigas Foundation award for the best dissertation in mechanics; or the Aragón Investiga a la Excelencia Investigadora Award in 2008. These are only some of the recognitions he has received, in addition to, inter alia, the fact that he has successfully led and raised to excellence a project as significant as CIBER-BBN.
During the years in which he was at the helm of CIBER, many goals were attained and obstacles overcome. Doblaré’s hallmark can be seen in the development of the research programme and in the construction of the bases laid for collaboration between groups, which is one of the most complex challenges for the organisation.
From here, CIBER-BBN members would like to thank him for his effort and dedication, without which we could not have reached the level we have reached in our research, as well as his impeccable institutional representation and his enormous skills as an intermediary and in creating understanding among researchers.
As a result of the unquestionable work of the Steering Committee and of its advisory bodies, CIBER-BBN has become a research centre of reference in Spain, achieving very significant results. During this first period, the members of the team led by Manuel Doblaré were:
At the beginning of 2011, Professor Doblaré handed Scientific Management over to Dr. Pablo Laguna, with the management of the centre remaining within Universidad de Zaragoza. CIBER-BBN has also assisted, on one hand, in updating the Steering Committee by incorporating a team that keeps CIBER-BBN in its leadership position in research in Spain within its sphere of action, and on the other hand, updating centre management as well. In 2011, the CIBER-BBN consortium’s capacity to obtain funding in both national and international competitive calls for proposals became very clear. Scientific excellence in terms of production was maintained, although the evaluation of the consortium’s general activity in 2010 conducted by an external panel appointed by ISCIII showed that transfer and translation aspects had to be strengthened. The results of this external evaluation were reviewed with the Advisory Boards (External Scientific Advisory Board and Medical Advisory Board) during the Annual Conference. Three forums were held with companies, and the association of clinical groups to the centre began.
In 2012, a new intramural call for project proposals was resolved, with 25 projects from the previous period continuing and 18 new projects starting. The value of the collaborative work experience of the groups since CIBER-BBN started operating became clear in the first successful transfer of the centre: signing of a transfer agreement to transfer one of CIBER-BBN intramural projects to a pharmaceutical company to develop a medicinal product based on advanced therapies. Another sign of CIBER-BBN’s potential was the fact that it received the first European project (FP7) under the auspices of CIBER, in addition to other calls for project proposals such as EURONANOMED, or, on a national level, INNPACTO, among others. The filing of patents in which CIBER-BBN was a co-owner increased, and licensing agreements were signed. Contacts with industrial and clinical partners were stimulated through industrial and clinical forums and activities for promoting the use of the platform programme. Furthermore, 1st edition of collaborative projects with clinical entities, in this case respiratory pathologies, with CIBERES and SEPAR began. A new clinical group joined as an associated clinical group. The first changes were made with respect to members of the Advisory Boards.
Throughout 2013, the strategy promoted by ISCIII as a result of the government’s decision to cut back on public administration costs, whereby eight of the nine existing CIBER consortiums would form a single legal entity with a central administration in Madrid, was implemented. Two forums with businesses and three clinical forums in connection with different subject areas were held, and six collaborative projects in oncology were started up with the ECO Foundation (Fundación para la Excelencia y la Calidad en la Oncología). An enormous effort was made in the Training Programme to organise, together with the Escuela Nacional de Sanidad and the UNED, a nanomedicine course that ultimately was not given. A huge effort was made in 2013 to draw up the Strategic Plan for the 2014-2017 period, and during this process the progress the centre had made since it was founded was reviewed in depth based on different indicators. Half the members of the SAB were replaced.
2014 was the first year operating under the legal status as a single consortium called CIBER, and in that year BBN was a subject area that was independent in terms of scientific management but working under the homogenised administrative procedures centralised in the Technical Unit located in ISCIII. In that year 49 intramural projects started up, all of which addressed a specific pathology and with clinical groups. For the first time, the call for proposals was evaluated by Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Prospectiva (ANEP- Spanish National Evaluation and Planning Agency). Along with these projects, three other projects comprised in a new initiative intended for promoting transfer were started. These projects were funded by both companies and CIBER-BBN. Clinical collaborations were established with the IMIBIC Foundation (Fundación del Instituto Maimónides de Investigación Biomédica de Córdoba), and a second edition of collaborative projects was established with CIBERES and SEPAR. A mechanism for periodically evaluating the hired research staff through external evaluators was implemented. The CIBER-BBN equipment platforms were recognised by the MINECO (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) as being Singular Scientific and Technological Infrastructures.
Pablo Laguna Lasaosa holds a PhD in Science (Physics) from the Universidad de Zaragoza, and is a Professor of Signal Theory and Communications at the same institution.
His research activity focuses on the application of information (signal) treatment techniques in the biomedical field within the Biomedical Signal Interpretation & Computational Simulation Group of the Instituto de Investigación en Ingeniería (BSICoS-I3A) of the Universidad de Zaragoza.
He is the co-author of more than 130 publications in the field of signal processing and more than 260 international conference papers, and he has also supervised 12 dissertations. He has led a considerable number of research projects in the field of the biomedical signal analysis and interpretation, particularly in the cardiovascular field, and most of these projects have involved international academic and clinical collaborations. He has also held international responsibilities, such as presiding the Computing in Cardiology conference, or being editor of the Digital Signal Processing Journal (Eurasip) and Medical Biological Engineering and Computing journal, and has organised different scientific conferences. In the Universidad de Zaragoza, he is also responsible for the Biomedical Engineering PhD Programme. With Leif Sörnmo, he co-authored the book entitled Bioelectrical Signal Processing in Cardiac and Neurological Applications (Elsevier, 2005).
Pablo Laguna was a fundamental player after the initial work of Manuel Doblaré in the years of designing and starting up the centre, for maintaining a complex research structure unprecedented in Spain, contributing to ensuring the level of excellence for which CIBER-BBN is known.
The 2011-2014 period was a very difficult time in terms of management and was at all times conditioned by a series of administrative cutbacks and limitations resulting from the financial and economic scenario. Therefore, in addition to the inherently demanding effort required for running a multi-institutional centre without any real physical location, it was also necessary to contribute a high dose of enthusiasm, transparency, open-mindedness and a good disposition. The excellent personal qualities of Laguna most definitely contributed a lot to the success of CIBER-BBN during these years.
From here, CIBER-BBN members would like to thank him for his effort and drive, as well as his cool nature, people skills and empathy with researchers during his time at the helm.
The Steering Committee members that worked with Pablo Laguna heading up CIBER from 2011 to 2014 were:
In the first few months of 2015, Pablo Laguna stepped down and handed over Scientific Management to Ramón Martínez Máñez, professor of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. So a new period began that year with a partially changed Steering Committee.