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During 2022, the Projects Unit has provided a service to the research community in the preparation and application of a total of 944 grants, involving national and international calls.

The total amount granted through competitive projects was 28.51 million euros, which represents 10 M€ more than in the previous year, what makes 2022 the best year in the history of the VHIR.

During 2022 VHIR registered 144 granted projects of which 114 were national and 47, international. The international funding, with 8.8 M€ has doubled with respect to 2021. In the same vein, public funding has reached almost 24 M€, exceeding the 2021 figure by just over 10 million.

Also noteworthy are the significant increases in funding obtained from MICINN – RETOS & Strategic Lines projects and by projects of the European Commission. Finally, funding has also doubled for the part of international projects coordinated by VHIR.

Featured international projects

TRUSTroke: Trustworthy ai for improvement of stroke outcomes

Call: HORIZON-HLTH-2022-STAYHLTH-01-two-stage

Coordinated by VHIR. PI: Carlos Molina

TRUSTroke proposes a novel trustworthy by design and privacy-preserving AI-based platform to assist clinicians, patients and caregivers in the management of acute and chronic phases of ischemic stroke, based on the integration of clinical and patient reported data, outcomes and experience for a trustworthy assessment of disease progression and risks, enabling more personalized and effective management of stroke, as well as providing inter-hospital benchmarking and sharing best practices.

To this purpose, a Federated Learning infrastructure will enable multiple clinical sites to build several trustworthy AI based predictive models by leveraging stroke data without compromising privacy and implementing best-in-class security and privacy protocols.

TRUSTroke platform will be trustworthy by design since it will be compliant with the recognized guidelines for building FAIR resources and trustworthy AI systems, including the need for transparency, explainability, robustness, accountability, accuracy and security of the learned AI models.

A series of User Experience studies will be performed to increase the usability of the platform and improve the communication to the end-users. A final proof of concept clinical study, conducted by world class stroke centres, will ensure the highest level of trustworthiness of TRUSTroke.

iMM-CARE: Boosting clinical research for the benefit of society

Call: HORIZON-WIDERA-2022-ACCESS-01-two-stage


iMM-CARE project will deliver a pioneering Centre of Excellence (CoE) in human-centred clinical and translational research in Portugal by teaming up Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM) with Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR). Having VHIR as a role model and strategic partner will create the framework and actions to have the best health care and research on a single campus – the Lisbon Academic Medical Centre (CAML) – catalysing a virtuous continuum across all stages of biomedical research, from bench to bedside and back again.

iMM-CARE will develop and promote excellence in clinical and translational research, profoundly transforming how clinical and translational research is conceptualized, planned and implemented to deliver effective solutions to the most pressing health needs.

The CoE will have at its core a mission-driven, human-centred, data-driven research and innovation (R&I) model as a new way to engage all stakeholders – citizens, patients, healthcare professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs, industry, health authorities and government – in interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral collaborations to solve health challenges. It will act as a lighthouse and role model driving structural changes leading to a modernised and more competitive biomedical and health R&I system in Portugal and the EU.

ONAKI-ICI: Towards a personalized clinical management of oncologic patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) associated to immune-checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs)


Coordinated by VHIR. PI: María José Soler

The aim of the ONAKI-ICI project is to develop an AI-based risk stratification method to early diagnose of acute kidney injury caused by immune checkpoint inhibitors used in the treatment of cancer. The diagnosis of this complication is performed by kidney biopsy that is an invasive procedure for this fragile population but the only one that currently allows its renal diagnosis.

The immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have increased survival rates of cancer patients that were previously untreatable by triggering an immune response against tumor cells. However, ICIs action is not selective and it has the potential to suppress the tolerance to self-antigens causing immunerelated adverse events (irAEs). Up to 29% of the ICIs treated cancer patients develop acute kidney injury (AKI) secondary to ICIs use (ICI-AKI) and acute tubulointerstitial nephritis (ATIN) is the most frequent associated histological lesion. ICI-AKI is a serious complication as it increases the risk of AKI recurrence after ICIs rechallenge and it may stunt the therapeutic options of the patients as a decreased renal function is an exclusion criterion for many oncologic treatments.

Further, to ensure viability of the tool implementation the team will perform a cost effectiveness assessment. It is expected that the development of a cost-effective artificial intelligence (AI)-based risk stratification tool to early diagnose ICIs-AKI will allow personalizing clinical management of these patients and, eventually, improving their quality of life.

OBESIMM: Exploring the effects of time-restricted feeding on the immune function of obese individuals: a multi-omic approach

Call: JPI HDHL – Transnational Research Proposals

Coordinated by VHIR. PI: Josep Villena

Pathological conditions associated with unbalanced nutrient handling, such as obesity, are associated with maladapted immune responses that lead to increased susceptibility to pathogenic infections. The precise mechanisms by which the immune system of obese subjects fails to adequately respond to pathogens remain unclear.

On the view of the interplay observed between obesity, nutrition and immune function that outlines the host response to pathogens, the main goal of the OBESIMM project is to precisely define the effect that TRF exerts on the immune function of human obese individuals and how it impacts their immunocompetence. For this, the team will conduct an interventional study in obese human individuals who will be subjected to a time-restricted feeding (TRF) diet and explore how this intervention reprograms their immune system to enhance their capacity to defend from infectious pathogens.

The research team will use a multidisciplinary approach that combines cytomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, metagenomics and systems biology, in order to unravel potential mechanisms involved in the modulation of immunity and the improvement of adipose meta-inflammation by TRF.

Our study in humans will be complemented with the use of preclinical models of obesity to directly assess the impact that TRF has on host’s response to lipopolysaccharide.

VHIR Annual Report 2022