Campus Atlántico Tricontinental

Universidad de Las palmas de Gran CanariaUniversidad de La Laguna

Biomedicine applied to development cooperation


Positioning Spain as the European leader in applying Biomedicine to international development co-operation in Africa and Latin America by promoting the university and social synergies to be found in the Canary Islands, with a view to addressing the health problems of tropical and developing countries and their possible impact on Europe through migratory movements.
The objectives proposed are:

Taliarte Laboratory Building. ULPGC

  • Steer the applications of biomedical research in the Canary Island Universities towards Development Co-operation in tropical diseases on the interface between Europe, Africa and Latin America.
  • Harness the potential of the accumulated know-how of traditional medicine and bio-diversity in Macaronesia and co-operating countries for the joint discovery, development, design and management of new medicines and to train health professionals in this field.
  • Consolidate the leadership of the Canary Island universities, in the context of the outermost regions and from a tri-continental perspective, in the study of gene-based diseases associated with islands with a view to generating R&D+i (innovation) networks to enable the transfer of the results in the area of bio-health.

In order to meet these objectives, an emerging cluster of Development Co-operation in health is being created in the Canary Islands by aggregating the different groups and centres of the two universities that make up the CEI, hence attracting other universities of Macaronesia and co-operating countries on the basis of four elements that make them stand apart:

  • First of all, the boundary location concerning migratory movements towards the Canary Islands, the ideal place to establish Observatories and platforms dealing with Human Mobility, the poverty-related Tropical Diseases and emerging epidemics.
  • Secondly, the endemic bio-diversity of Macaronesia and the co-operating countries of Africa and America offer unrivalled potential for developing applied research aimed at finding new drugs from land and marine-based natural products. These can be optimised with guided chemical synthesis and by promoting collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry via joint projects.
  • Third, the fact that islands are limited territories makes the Canary Islands a genuine laboratory to study the prevalence genetic, hereditary and gene-based diseases, in which the interaction between genotype, life-style (nutrition and physical exercise), environmental aggressions (allergies) and physiological processes (growth and ageing) generate physio-pathological circumstances that are particularly susceptible to observation and to the design of suitable experimental models.
  • Finally, the Canary Island CEI has a clear vocation to giving top priority to translational research, in which all aspects aimed at finding  practical applications for advances in R&D+i (innovation) and the creation and consolidation of joint ventures that drive the economic growth of the Canary Islands and the co-operating countries will be promoted.

The specific objectives to be met are:

  • To create an Atlantic Platform for research and the control of Tropical Diseases by promoting R&D+i (innovation) centres and projects of the Canary Islands (The Canary Island University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health, the Antonio Gonzalez University Institute of Bio-Organics and the University of La Laguna (ULL) Institute of Bio-Medical Technology; Department of Clinical Sciences of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) and the Tropical Medicine Unit of the Materno-Infantil University Hospital of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, etc) providing them with new capacities that will enable them to tackle the problems associated with human and animal Tropical Diseases and their possible impact on Europe through migratory movements.

Add in particular:

  • To research and develop new, robust and reliable methods of diagnosis to be used in the specific conditions of the co-operating countries.
  • Conduct research into new molecules that act on the immune system in search of protection (vaccines) and stimulation (therapy) for a range of Tropical Diseases that have a major impact on developing countries.
  • Study and propose new ways of addressing the treatment of diseases, including new formulations of generic drugs for the co-operating countries.
  • Develop new projects based on the synergies generated by the general co-operation projects, that address a range of issues, from the epidemiology of Tropical Diseases, to the genetics of rare and emerging diseases.
  • Create an International Observatory of Tropical Diseases in the Canary Islands. This Observatory will enable us to monitor the evolution of diseases in America, Europe and Africa by co-ordinating the different watchdog centres scattered over these continents.
  • Harness the know-how built up from centuries of using traditional medicine and of African and American bio-diversity through the research potential related to medical chemistry and the incipient pharmaceutical industry existing in the universities of the Canary Islands, in search of new medicines based on the bio-diversity of the region and of the co-operating countries.

And in particular:

  • Create new networks for obtaining a knowledge of traditional medicines and provide them with the resources for a systematic study of the possible active ingredients that could later be developed as parasite medicines, or other kinds of medicine, for use in both human and veterinary medicine.
  • Promote the existing R&D+i (innovation) networks between the Canary Island universities and Macaronesian universities, to consolidate the leadership of the Canary Islands among the outermost regions and project them towards American and African universities with whom there are already existing and stable bonds of co-operation.
  • Promote projects aimed at searching for active ingredients based on existing bio-diversity by promoting collaboration with national and international companies of the sector and the development of spin-offs from both universities.
  • Facilitate the protection of the intellectual property of universities, researchers and collaborating companies.
  • Develop a health research cluster in the Canary Islands, specialising in the study of diseases associated with islands, with the object of leading bio-medical and bio-technical research in the region and in the outermost regions, in this field, with a view to creating R&D+i (innovation) networks that enable a transfer of the results in the area of health.

And in particular:

  • Establish networks of research into epidemiology, genetic screening and independent clinical trials in the area of study of the genetic-based diseases associated with island territories.
  • Create a translational research cluster, in the form of a consortium made up of the different university institutes and hospitals, based on three major areas of methodological approach: Cell and Molecular Biology, Clinical research and Epidemiology and Medical Chemistry.
  • Create an Outermost Region Bio-cluster, made up of existing business associations, research centres and bio-sanitary entities, as part of technological innovation in this sector, with actions aimed at transferring knowledge and the results of the research to society and to industry.
  • Promote the transfer of knowledge and experience from European reference centres to the outermost regions.
  • Promote the creation of new spin-off bio-tech companies and consolidate existing ones that have been created in the two universities, which would translate knowledge into the discovery and development of new medicines, new vaccines, new diagnosis methods, etc. aimed at creating knowledge based wealth for the Canary Islands and for the co-operating countries.
  • Promote the internationalisation of the activity of the universities and their technological parks to raise the profile of the transfer of research results generated by the tri-continental R&D+i (innovation) projects that formulate a new way of co-operating based on creating tech-based joint ventures.

The issues of specialisation are:

  • Tropical Diseases emerging epidemics.
  • Bio-diverse medication, design and development of drugs.
  • Gene-based diseases and common diseases based on life-style (cardio-vascular and metabolic), which are prevalently associated with island territories.