On 28th September 2004, the University of Navarra opened the doors to the biggest private medical research centre: the Centre for Applied Medical Research (CIMA). 240 researchers at the centre focus on four areas of biomedical research promoted by the university: Oncology, Neurosciences, Cardiovascular Physiopathology, and Gene Therapy & Hepatology.
The areas were chosen because of their importance in healthcare and their related social repercussions - they account for 90% of the causes of death in the western world. The projects also reflect the experience of the University of Navarra, as they cover research areas open in the faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy and Sciences, in the University Clinic and the Centre for Applied Pharmacobiological Research. More specifically, work is being carried out on 22 main projects taking place in almost one hundred laboratories and facilities spread out over 15,030 m². The CIMA team is made up of 240 scientists and technicians, as well as administration and management staff, although approximately one hundred further positions are still to be created.
Alongside other national and international centres, CIMA researchers will develop their projects in 32 main laboratories and more than 60 special laboratories and support facilities.
CIMA was created to provide the infrastructure required to complete the whole scientific production process, from basic research on pathologies to social access to the discoveries themselves. It was created for clinical purposes, guaranteed by the collaboration with the University Clinic, and with multidisciplinary teams consisting of doctors, biologists, biochemists, pharmacologists and technicians.
Design and layout of the building
A functional design was a priority for the CIMA building. The research areas are spread over four floors, similar to each other in their layout. The standard floor is designed around the central structure of the building consisting of common and frequently used features: lifts, stairs, toilets, 16 ultra low freezers per floor, as well as two cold laboratories where tissues can be stored between +4º and –80º. The main laboratories (eight per floor) are found on the south side, while the north side is reserved for technique laboratories and cultivation areas.
Oncology is located on the first floor, the director of which is Dr. Luis Montuenga. In Spain, 30% of deaths in those aged under 65 are caused by tumours. The research projects of his team (which mainly focus on lung cancer, haematological tumours as well as colon and prostate) are focused on improving the understanding of what causes cancer, studying markers for earlier diagnosis, designing new therapeutic tools and predicting the patient's response to each drug more effectively.
The second floor is the Neurosciences area led by Dr. José Masdeu. The research carried out here centres on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, neurodegenerative diseases with a high incidence rate and a huge social and personal impact. In Spain, almost half a million people have Alzheimer's and there are approximately 70,000 patients with Parkinson's. This area aims to determine the factors that cause these two diseases at a cellular and molecular level and to design therapeutic strategies to correct them. Research is also carried out regarding early markers to prevent neuronal damage.
The Cardiovascular Physiopathology area, led by Dr. Javier Díez, is found on the third floor. Cardiovascular diseases are the primary cause of disease and death in the western world and, within two decades, it is believed that this trend will be reflected worldwide. The work carried out in these laboratories aims to further our knowledge of the mechanisms and consequences of high blood pressure and atherothrombosis. Similarly, new applicable diagnosis and treatment methods are developed for patients likely to suffer, or who have already suffered, an acute myocardial infarction, stroke or heart failure.
The laboratories of the Gene Therapy and Hepatology area are located on the fourth floor. The director, Dr. Jesús Prieto, coordinates work aimed at further examining the mechanism of the most common diseases affecting the liver and, in particular, viral hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Its goal is to develop new and more effective diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The use of gene therapy, a therapeutic method based on transferring genes to an organ or tissue for curative purposes, in liver diseases is of note among the different areas of research. At present, three clinical trials have been carried out which have resulted in significant data