On September 29th, Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) celebrated the opening day of the 2nd edition of the Official Master’s Degree in Translational Biomedical Research and the closing of the 1st edition, with the diploma award ceremony. Dr. Manel Esteller, director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), gave the master conference entitled “Epigenetics in Health and Disease”.

Laia París, student of the master’s first edition, featured one of the most emotional moments of the ceremony, when she talked about her experience showing informal pictures of her colleagues from the lab and the master. “I was sure that I wanted to do practical and useful science. In one word, translational. I wanted to be part of the team of researchers that, a little bit in the shadow, work every day hand by hand with the doctors and professionals from the hospital with the aim to improve patients’ life”.

Laia did her internship in the Translational Research in Child and Adolescent Cancer group, led by Dr. Josep Sánchez de Toledo. In this lab, she explained that she had the opportunity to “work in a first-level hospital environment, to see how medical assistance and research interact, to attend prestigious seminars, and to have exclusive access to human samples in convenient facilities”.

Who also extended a word of thanks was Dr. Manel Esteller. After confessing that he felt at home in Vall d’Hebron, he addressed this message to the students: “The only competence that researchers have are cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and the rest of diseases”.

Apart from the conference and the diploma award ceremony, the sponsors of the master gave 6 grants of 3.015,52 each. The director of Ferrer Advanced Biotherapeutics, Dr. Andrés Fernández, gave two grants; the director of the Banco Santander banking office at the hospital, Sergi Solans, gave two more grants; the responsible of Business Development of Roche, Dr. Artur Palet, gave one; and the director of communications and outreach of the Fundació Catalana per la Recerca i la Innovació, Laura Rubio, and co-coordinator of the master, Dr. Francina Munell, gave the last grant.

The event was chaired by Dr. Gabriel Capellá, head of the research, innovation and health of the Catalan Department of Health, with the participation of Dr. Lluís Tort, vice rector of strategic projects and planning of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; Francesc Iglesias, management assistant of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital; Dr. Maria Josep Cerqueira, director of teaching at Vall d’Hebron; and Dr. Joan Comella, VHIR’s director. The coordinators of the different units of the master and several teachers also did not wanted to miss the goodbye to the former students and the welcome to the new ones.

As a new feature of this year’s edition, students will have to choose three out of the six optional subjects, taught by researchers and clinicians currently working at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital. The optional subjects are: Brain and Nervous Peripheral System Diseases; Cardiovascular and Kidney Diseases; Oncology Diseases; Liver and Digestive Diseases; Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Critical Pathology; and Respiratory, Immune, Systemic and Endocrine System Diseases. The program will also offer new lessons on transversal competences, such as communication and outreach, business development, national and international calls, and project management.

The aim of the master is to generate excellent young researchers by providing them with the necessary combination of scientific and medical knowledge and skills to contribute successfully to the future of translational medical research. It is addressed to research career, providing access to a PhD program related to the biomedicine area that the students had previously chosen for their training program and internship. In this regard, the master is an excellent occasion for working in a biomedical research laboratory with first-rate scientists and clinicians.