Barcelona, 6 April, 2011. Dr. José Baselga, one of Spain’s most prestigious international oncologists and a key figure in the research and treatment of breast cancer, has been distinguished as “Physician of the Year”. This first edition of the ABC Health Awards recognises the outstanding work of medical professionals and institutions in the public and private health sectors.
Since September 2010, Dr. José Baselga has been heading the Haematology/Oncology Division at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), a post he combines with the scientific management of the Vall d’Hebrón Institute of Oncology (VHIO) in Barcelona. He is also the founder and patron of the private foundation FERO for translational oncology research and Scientific Chairman of SOLTI, a cooperative group specialising in clinical research on breast cancer.
In addition to his contributions as a researcher on the clinical research programmes on Breast Cancer and Experimental Therapies of the VHIO, Dr. Baselga was a driving force behind the start-up in June 2010 of the “‘La Caixa” Research Unit for Molecular Cancer Therapy (UITM), a unit specializing in early-phase clinical trials (Phase I), and the construction of the “Endavant i de Cara” Breast Cancer Centre in 2008, a benchmark centre for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer patients. Both these centres are part of the Vall d’Hebrón University Hospital complex in Barcelona.
Along the same lines, and to further stimulate research in this country, Dr. Baselga instigated the foundation of the VALL D’HEBRÓN INSTITUTE OF ONCOLOGY (VHIO) in 2006, a cancer research centre that encompasses researchers from various countries (Denmark, Belgium, Estonia, England, Italy and Portugal) with different backgrounds (there are currently more than 100 researchers) and conducts programmes of basic, clinical and translational research.
Having trained in the laboratory of Dr. Mendelsohn at the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Baselga undertook the first trials on patients with monoclonal antibodies against growth factor receptors. Today, these antibodies, known as Erbitux and Herceptin, have improved the life expectancy of thousands of patients all over the world. In 1996 he returned to Spain to take charge of the Oncology Service at the Vall d’Hebrón Hospital in Barcelona. He has headed this division for 14 years, which has now become a benchmark in patient care and clinical and applied cancer research.
Dr. Baselga is also the author and/or co-author of more than 200 original papers in indexed journals and is a member of the editorial board of some of the most prestigious scientific journals on oncology: Cancer Cell, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Annals of Oncology and Clinical Cancer Research, amongst others. At an international level, he holds, and has held, positions on the governing bodies of some of the most prestigious oncology institutions: the European Society for Medical Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Ludwig Cancer Institute.
He has received numerous awards, some of the most notable being Elected Member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Distinguished Alumnus from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2004, the Rosenthal Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Jaime I Award for Medical Research and in 2008 the Civil Order of Health in the category of Commander with Plaque from the Government of Spain.
A top-level jury
The jury was chaired by José Martínez Olmos, Secretary General for Health, and included: Rafael Matesanz, director of the National Transplant Organization and winner of the Prince of Asturias Award; Humberto Arnés, chief executive of Farmaindustria; Diego Gracia, Professor of History of Medicine and expert in bioethics; the Prince of Asturias prize-winner Enrique Moreno, a surgeon and pioneer in the transplant of digestive systems; Ana Pastor, former Minister of Health; Juan José Rodríguez Sendín, chairman of the Collegiate Medical Organization, Álvarez Buylla, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Autonomous University; César Nombela, Professor of Microbiology at the Complutense University; Pilar Grande, spokesperson for the PSOE on the Congressional Health Committee; Carmen Peña, president of the Pharmacists’ Association; Maria Dolores Navarro, from the Spanish Patients’ Forum, and Máximo González Jurado, president of the Nursing Association. The prize-giving ceremony was held on 7 April.
The Hospital Clínico of Madrid was distinguished as the best public hospital, with particular recognition for the start-up of the robotic surgery programme following the incorporation of the Da Vinci Surgical System. The award for Best Private Hospital was won by Grupo Hospitales de Madrid. The winner of best hospital management of the year was La Fe de Valencia.
In the category of laboratories, the company MSC was recognised for its efforts to promote Medicine, a centre specialising in the search for innovative medicines. In the field of R+D+I, the winner was Celgene for CITRE, a centre of excellence that aims to make new discoveries available to patients as quickly as possible. In terms of corporate social responsibility, the jury hailed the work of Novartis. This laboratory has set up programmes supporting access to medicines for malaria, leprosy and tuberculosis. General Electric won an award for one of its most recent star products: a handheld ultrasound machine, a new asset for doctors.
ABC Salud also recognised patients’ associations for their efforts in improving patients’ education and quality of life. In this category the winner was FEDER, the voice of people suffering from rare diseases. The winner for pharmaceutical initiatives was the Pharmacists’ Association of Castile and Leon for raising people’s awareness about the correct use of antibiotics.