EATRIS Portugal Kick-off Meeting

Published 27 November 2019

On November 11 2019, the Portuguese National Hub organised their kick-off meeting in Lisbon, hosted by the medicines agency Infarmed.

After a warm welcome by the President and EATRIS National Governor Dr Rui Santos Ivo and Dr Claudia Coelho de Faria, neurosurgeon and National Director, we discussed the potential services and areas of expertise of the EATRIS network in concert with the EU coordination and the national hub representatives.

In addition, delegates from the Portuguese institutions highlighted their specific profiles and potential contributions. Overall, the exchange of information during the meeting was helpful in defining our common goals in advancing translational medicine on a national as well as on a European level.

Dr David Morrow and Dr Martin de Kort, delegates from the EATRIS Coordination & Support Office, observed the overall proposition and the Portuguese infrastructure’s capabilities and reported that:

Combined, the 14 Portuguese centres have a very comprehensive offering, covering key-regions and platforms including Biomarkers, ATMP, Imaging & Tracing, Small Molecules and Vaccines. The Portuguese institutions represent very strong additions to all five Platforms and the overall EATRIS offering in translational research.

Medical research ecosystem with a balance

A good mix between (disease-agnostic) technology-oriented platforms and disease-oriented programs (Oncology, Neurology, Cardiovascular Disorders, Rare Diseases) is covered in the combined infrastructure. The presence of comprehensive cancer centres in the network can provide a leading role in the implementation of the right tools in translational oncology.

High relevance to our Infrastructure’s activities

Many groups have engaged in themes that are relevant to EATRIS, these include:

  1. Data Quality and Reproducibility;
  2. Development of our digital capabilities to make PM a clinical reality;
  3. Harmonisation of training initiatives;
  4. Innovative Clinical Trials;
  5. HTA initiatives;
  6. Machine learning.

Experience in Public-Private Collaboration

  • A number of sites have vast experience with contract research in collaboration with companies, requiring a client-oriented mindset. These sites can share best-practices with the other sites of the Portuguese Hub and/or the wider EATRIS community (e.g. through relevant workshops or the recently launched TransMed Academy e-learning platform).
  • Several institutions are embedded in a biotech science park environment with experience in public-private collaboration and an eye for innovation (creating spin-off companies). These sites can take a leading role in innovation management activities that can be shared/provided among the national and EU infrastructures. At the same time, the interactions with the biotech community provide an opportunity to perform a gap analysis (e.g. when a certain translational tool or service cannot be provided by the institution, EATRIS can be contacted to seek an additional partner that can provide necessary complementary expertise).

A solid yet agile structure

The infrastructure composition and expertise have the ability to change and adapt overtime – adhering to a flexible and pro-active mindset and seeking opportunities that will be important to make the most out of the EATRIS model.

Additional points discussed:

  • Like in many EU members states, the Portuguese medical centres are not yet fully integrated. Each centre has independent IT systems which, in addition to the challenges around data privacy/ ethics, poses barriers for collaboration and the exchange of (clinical) research data and the availability of annotated samples.
  • The institutional contacts are encouraged to seek contact with their TTO’s, communication departments and grant desks or other ‘hot spots’ in the institution that could act as EATRIS ambassador to seek for relevant capacity when opportunities arise.
  • EATRIS has initiated an alliance between the most relevant, patient-centric biomedical research infrastructures: BBMRI and ECRIN. EATRIS Portugal is following this with a similar initiative on the national level.