Two medical schools, a hospital unit and four research centres have come together to create a large laboratory that joins Porto and Lisbon, with the aim of promoting medical research with high clinical and community applicability.
The first large Associated Laboratory dedicated to clinical and translational research in Portugal has just been created: the RISE - Health Research Network. The announcement was made by the Foundation for Science and Technology.
The mission of the new Laboratory will be to strengthen health research, from the pre-clinical and clinical stages to the community level, bringing together Universities and health care providers, within the scope of the national policy objectives for Science and Technology. “We intend to create and develop an environment focused on team research, where discoveries will be quickly and efficiently implemented to improve human health”, explains Fernando Schmitt, a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP), who will be the coordinator of RISE.
“The creation of this Associated Laboratory fills a gap that has long been felt in health research in our country, as it will allow a better articulation between the Academy, Hospitals and Health Centres. The aim is to put the results of clinical research and translation to the service of patients and society in general. In addition, the recommended organizational model is quite innovative, as RISE will be managed in a decentralized and networked manner. This will allow greater efficiency in the management of available resources and facilitate the performance of multicentric and multidisciplinary studies”, said Altamiro da Costa Pereira, director of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto (FMUP).
RISE also stands out for uniting, for the first time, the Faculties of Medicine of Porto and Lisbon in a project of this scale. According to Fausto Pinto, director of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon (FMUL), “RISE is absolutely a pioneer in Portugal in the area of clinical and translational research, showing that it is possible to create a strong structure in an area that is internationally competitive, thus reinforcing the visibility and external credibility of Portuguese medical science. This was only possible due to the joint efforts of two great university institutions, FMUL and FMUP, reinforcing the impact that structures such as the one now created can have, taking advantage of the complementarities of the two partners”.
The main research strands are: Cardiovascular Sciences, Oncology, Inflammatory and Degenerative Diseases, Health Policies, Technology and Digital Transformation, Community Health and Societal Challenges. The RISE Associate Laboratory will bring together more than 220 Ph.D. researchers and 120 Ph.D. students.
It should be noted that more than half of these researchers are doctors, nurses and other health professionals. This will help bringing research priorities closer to the needs identified daily in contact with patients. “This initiative demonstrates that the NHS is much more than providing care to patients and is at the forefront of innovation and clinical research, which are central to improving health outcomes”, says Rui Henrique, President of the Board of Directors of the IPO-Porto.
RISE will also have the collaboration of other researchers, such as biologists, economists, biostatisticians, information technology and data scientists. The new Laboratory “is the perfect combination of scientific knowledge and innovation produced in research units and Universities involving the concrete daily lives of patients, health institutions, decision-makers and companies. We intend to be the main protagonist and catalyst in changing the landscape of clinical, translational and community research in Portugal”, concludes Fernando Schmitt.
Based at the Academy, RISE was created by merging CINTESIS - Centre for Research in Health Technologies and Services and UnIC - Cardiovascular Research and Development Unit, two research units housed at FMUP, with CCUL – FMULS’s University Cardiovascular Centre of the University of Lisbon and CI-IPOP (Research Centre of the Portuguese Institute of Oncology of Porto - IPO-Porto). These entities were also joined by researchers from NOVA Medical School, the Higher School of Nursing and from the University of Aveiro.