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What is the ISCIII and what does it do? These are its functions and objectives

The Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII) is the national and international reference in biomedical research and public health in Spain. It is the Public Research Organization (OPI) of the Government responsible for funding and executing national biomedical research. It depends on the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (MCIU), although it is also attached to the Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare (MSCBS). ISCIII was born in 1986 with the General Health Law and, in addition to promoting and coordinating biomedical research, it offers scientific and health technical services to the National Health System (SNS), and has training programs in public health, health management and scientific management.

The coverage of scientific and technical services is one of the most recognizable tasks in the ISCIII. It is carried out through the epidemiological surveillance network, the reference laboratory network and the biological alert laboratory network and allows the identification and characterization of infectious agents and the determination of environmental pollutants, among other issues. When there is a potential public health hazard linked to an infectious agent or to a pathological outbreak, the ISCIII manages the analysis of samples, for example, working in coordination and collaboration with the autonomous communities on epidemiological surveillance issues.The Institute has participated in all major public health alerts, from toxic syndrome and influenza A to that of Crimea-Congo fever, through Ebola, the best known in recent years.

     The director of ISCIII, Raquel Yotti, explains the functions of the Institute

What centers and units does ISCIII have?

The ISCIII, which has a campus in Madrid capital and another one in Majadahonda (Madrid), hosts many centers and units, which work on different health areas. ISCIII houses the National Center of Epidemiology; the National Center of Microbiology; the National Center of Environmental Health; the National Center of Tropical Medicine; the National School of Health; the National School of Occupational Medicine; the Rare Disease Research Institute; the Chronic Diseases Research Unit; the Telemedicine and eHealth Research Unit; the National Agency for Health Technology Assessment; the Office for the Transfer of Research Results; the National Library of Health Sciences; the European Projects Office; the National Bank of Cell Lines, and the National Register of Biobanks.

In this way, ISCIII works on chronic diseases, cancer, environmental pollutants, health training, public health, health education, care and nursing, communicable diseases, research funding, scientific advice, I+D+i Biomedical evaluation, management of scientific knowledge, digital health..., among many other issues.

Ciber, foundations, networks and platforms

Three foundations also depend on the ISCIII: the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), which investigates heart diseases; the National Center for Oncological Research (CNIO), which researches in cancer, and the Center for Research in Neurological Diseases (CIEN), which investigates in neurological pathologies such as Alzheimer's, among others. In addition, the Institute has promoted and finances the Network Biomedical Research Centers Consortium (Ciber); Health Research Institutes (IIS) of hospitals; thematic networks of cooperative research in health (Retics), and the five Research Platforms: Biobanks, Medical and Health Technologies, Clinical Trials, Proteomics, Genotyping and Cell Lines, and Bioinformatics.

The director of ISCIII, cardiologist Raquel Yotti, recalls that the main goal of the Institute and all its centers is "to collaborate in improving the health of the population and in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases".

Since its establishment in 1986, ISCIII has had ten man and two woman directors. Rafael Nájera (1986-1992); José Borrell (1992-1994); José Ramón Ricoy (1994-1996); José Antonio Gutiérrez (1996-2000); Antonio Campos (2000-2004); Francisco Gracia (2004-2007); Flora de Pablo (2007-2008); José Navas (2008-2012); Joaquín Arenas (2012-2013); Antonio Andreu (2013-2015); Jesús Fernández Crespo (2015-2018) and Raquel Yotti, current director, who has been in the position since summer 2018.