VHIO collaborates closely with the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s Oncology Department, driven by a shared determination to both advance and accelerate personalized and targeted therapies against cancer.
Established in 2006, the Vall d´Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) is a leading comprehensive cancer center of excellence where its scientists and research physicians adopt a purely translational research model, working together as multidisciplinary teams to both accelerate and advance personalized and targeted therapies against cancer. Undertaking one of Spain´s most dynamic cancer research programs, VHIO is dedicated to delivering on the promise of ´precision´ medicine in oncology – turning cancer discovery into more effective treatments and better practice for the care of our patients.
Research at VHIO is organized into four main programs—Preclinical, Translational, Clinical, and Core Technologies—VHIO´s team of some 200 researchers and physician-scientists focuses on understanding the fundamental biology of human cancer, from cellular and molecular biology and genetics to therapeutics.
The Preclinical and Translational Research Programs enhances the bench-to-bedside and bedside-to-bench principle, adopting a purely translational and multidisciplinary approach with the development of sophisticated research tools (i.e. xenograft models to mimic patient disease and to study tumor development in optimized research models). They translate advances in molecular research to patient care as rapidly as possible, tackling the disease from all possible angles and generating synergies between molecular and clinical research in oncology, playing a key role in the drug development process.
The Clinical Research Program, which incorporates multidisciplinary cancer taskforces, is dedicated to developing both novel agents directed to specific signaling pathways in cancer and new or redefined tools to diagnose cancer earlier and better predict response to treatment. Our researchers pioneer important studies involving both preclinical and early-drug development research studies and lead multiple phase I, II and III clinical trials designed to identify more effective cancer therapies tailored to individual patients. For the validation and interpretation of “omics”-based tests, medical oncologists and cancer biologists are provided with reliable data tools to investigate biomarkers that are being developed to optimize patient stratification based on differences in response patterns to cancer therapies or outcome.
Groups in the Core Technologies Program provide access to cutting-edge core technology platforms which enable us to employ next-generation whole-genome sequencing in precision oncology. By sequencing genes panels or whole genomes in cancer patients, we can identify specific molecular risk factors and gauge the potential efficacy of specific agents for individual patients. In parallel, these technologies (such as Hiseq2500, MiSeq, nCounter Nanostring), accelerate our research enabling the identification of mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies, the study of clonal populations, and the identification of novel therapeutic opportunities based on mutation profiles.
VHIO’s optimal organizational structure, coupled with its advantageous environment, located within the campus of the Vall d´Hebron University Hospital, affords direct access to patients as well as the entire spectrum of oncology professionals who care for them, allowing VHIO to tackle the many unresolved questions to ultimately outsmart the multifaceted, heterogeneous and complex disease which is cancer.
The Oncology Department at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital was established in 1995 to meet the new requirements of oncology care and provides a focal point for the different services in order to produce fully interrelated multidisciplinary care teams. Since its creation, it has undergone significant quantitative and qualitative growth in the areas of patient care, teaching, and research perspectives, to become a gold-standard for cancer centers in Europe.
VHIO has increasingly established itself as a leading reference in drug discovery from concept to clinic. It has been able to do so not only through the close connections between health care givers and researchers but also through its Research Unit for Molecular Therapies of Cancer (UITM) “la Caixa” located in the patient care environment of the Vall d´Hebron Hospital and set within the research context, as well as the Clinical Trials Office of the same hospital. Concerning the Research Unit for Molecular Therapies of Cancer, research carried out by our scientists and physician researchers led by VHIO´s Early Clinical Drug Development Group in collaboration with our Cancer Genomics Group, focuses on both the development of new drugs based on the molecular profile of each tumor as well as the optimization of treatment regimens using combinations of new drugs with existing ones.
The Clinical Trials Office coordinates a large portfolio of Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III studies. This Office consistently reports growth in both the number of patients enrolled in actively recruiting trials as well as the number of trials conducted each year.
Our preclinical, translational and clinical researchers as corresponding and senior authors or co-authors conducting preeminent research aimed at combating cancer, published 192 scientific articles in 2015, with a cumulative Impact Factor totaling 2104, and a Median Impact Factor of 10.9. These figures reflect an increase in both scientific productivity and Median Impact Factor, as well as the importance of VHIO’s research and contribution to the oncology field.
To accelerate discovery and thus improved cancer treatment and care, VHIO is committed to combining strengths and overcoming current obstacles to collaboration. Strategic cross-border alliances and partnerships avoid duplication of research efforts and spur advancements making personalized medicine more precise and accessible for an increasing number of cancer patients. In addition to such as Cancer Core Europe, VHIO is a member of the following consortia, (i) EuroPDX, that is developing clinically relevant models of cancer, in particular patient-derived tumor models (PDX), and (ii) the Oncology Clinical and Translational Consortium (OCTC) an academic-pharmaceutical industry collaboration with GSK.
Alejandro Piris Giménez, PhD
Scientific Research Manager
Josep Tabernero, MD, PhD, Director of VHIO, Head of the Medical Oncology Department of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital, Director of Clinical Research at VHIO, Director of Research Unit for UITM, and Head of the Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Tumors Group. He plays a key role in creating a nurturing research environment that encourages creativity and collaboration among scientists from different disciplines and groups.
Jordi Rodón, MD, Head of the Early Clinical Drug Development Group and Co-Director and Clinical head of UITM
Ana Vivancos, PhD, Principal Investigator of Cancer Genomics Group
Rodrigo Dienstmann, MD Principal Investigator of Oncology Data Science (ODysSey) Group