Cardiovascular diseases


National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC)


Valentí Fuster, general director of CNIC


National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), Spain


”la Caixa” Foundation has worked with the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research since 2005, pursuing three goals: to integrate basic molecular genetic research with application to the patient; to support young researchers; and to educate society on the importance of cardiovascular health.

The Carlos III National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) is an internationally recognised research centre of excellence devoted to understanding the fundamentals of cardiovascular health and cardiovascular disease and to transferring this knowledge to the patient.

The present iteration of the CNIC, which is attached to the Carlos III Health Institute of Madrid, began to take shape with its relaunch in 2006 based on collaboration between the Spanish government and the Pro CNIC Foundation, formed by 14 of the leading companies and private foundations in Spain.

The CNIC pursues the mission of ensuring that the knowledge generated is translated into benefits for society and tangible returns for the Spanish public sector. All its resources are aimed at transferring research results to clinical practice and the business sector. In this way, the Centre promotes interaction between basic and clinical researchers and is a pioneer in its clinical and observational projects with population-based studies, one of its key activities.

Training is another pillar of the CNIC's activity. Through the CNIC-JOVEN (“CNIC-YOUNG”) global training plan, which provides for all levels, from secondary education to post-doctoral training, the Centre continues to foster research talent in Spain.

More than 400 people work at CNIC, divided between technical units and research groups, with 85 % of them engaged in direct research work. Researchers are selected by the CNIC through international competitions and are periodically assessed by an external evaluation committee formed by 13 scientists of recognised international prestige in the field of research. The Centre was recently once more awarded Severo Ochoa centre of excellence accreditation, recognising the eight best research centres in Spain.


Continued support


Access all the information through the CNIC website.

SHE Foundation

Foundation for Science, Health and Education


Valentí Fuster, chairman of the SHE Foundation and general director of the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC)


Foundation for Science, Health and Education, Spain


The SHE Foundation devotes its efforts to creating a framework of reference on the meaning and implications of an education that focuses on the acquisition of healthy habits from childhood onwards aimed at promoting a world in which children, young people and adults are empowered to take positive action over their health.

Factors such as obesity, smoking and other addictions, such as to alcohol and other drugs, have become the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, causing the number of people suffering from these illnesses to increase considerably year after year. In 2009, in response to this situation and based on the experience that he has accumulated over his career, Doctor Valentín Fuster was the main driving force behind the establishment of the SHE Foundation, a non-profit organisation which, implementing basic and clinical research (Science), aims to promote healthy habits (Health) through communication and education (Education) amongst the population.

In 2015, ”la Caixa” Foundation joined the Board of Trustees of the SHE Foundation and began to support the foundation’s main initiative, the SI! (“YES!”) programme. This is a schools intervention programme aimed at children and young people from 3 to 16 years which will run from 2010 to 2025. The programme pursues a clear goal: to demonstrate that acquiring healthy habits in childhood reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves quality of life in adulthood. Research into public health shows that health promotion initiatives should begin during the childhood stage. This is the only way to achieve sustained, long-term, effective behaviour change.

The “YES!” programme is implemented in classrooms by teachers previously given training by the SHE Foundation. Since its launch in 2010, the programme has reached out to more than 30,000 students in Spain and has given training to a total of 1,993 teachers.

In 2020, the SHE Foundation launched a scientific study to assess the effectiveness of a community intervention. This intervention, Healthy Communities, focuses on the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease (smoking, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, obesity and so on), as well as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative events. The aim of the initiative is to implement and validate a healthy city programme promoting cardiovascular health habits at all stages in life, involving citizens themselves in improving their potential health and wellbeing, in this way generating a culture of health in a community where working for cardiovascular health is a task that falls to one and all.


Continued support


Access all the information through the SHE Foundation website.

Bilateral agreements

  • The IDIBGI-UdGi Cardiovascular Genetics Unit (GenCardio), led by Doctor Ramon Brugada, has conducted outstanding projects in the field of diagnosing hereditary cardiovascular diseases and in the field of sudden death for 10 years now. ”la Caixa” Foundation has supported the unit from the first, contributing six million euros to its research. This funding enabled the development of a leading research, assistance and knowledge transfer project in the territory.

    In the field of research, GenCardio studies the basic mechanisms associated with sudden death from different aspects of biomedicine (genetics, epigenetics, histology, molecular biology, basic electrophysiology, bioinformatics and clinical cardiology), working with both patients and cellular and animal models.

    The research group is currently engaged in several projects that have already caused a major impact on society. One of these is the Moscat (“Sudden Death in Catalonia”) project, implemented in cooperation with the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences of Catalonia (IMLCFC). Since 2012, GenCardio and the IMLCFC have conducted genetic analyses on all victims of sudden unexplained death in Catalonia under the age of 35 and some up to the age of 50. The aim of this forensic project, one of the most ambitious in the world devoted to sudden death, is to identify whether the death was caused by a hereditary disease, a fact that could lead to the provision of preventive strategies among other family members. Genetic studies conducted on victims of sudden death under the age of 50 (about 130 per year) reveal that there is a hereditary origin in around 40 % of cases. Over the 10 years since the project was first launched, over 1,000 genetic analyses have been conducted and visits have been made to more than 2,000 relatives.

    GenCardio also leads the Muerte Súbita (Sudden Death) project in the Canary Islands. Based on a family with more than 2,000 members and a hereditary disease associated with sudden death, the project aims to identify people at risk of sudden death. More than 200 individuals have been found to be carriers of the genetic mutation, which was discovered in 2009. In the previous 17 years, 34 young family members had died. After ten years of treating the genetic carriers, there have been no further sudden deaths in the family.

    Project leader: Ramon Brugada

    Projectduration: 2008-2023

    Grant: €6,350,000

    » More information (in Spanish)

  • Sudden infant death occurs unexpectedly in apparently healthy individuals and accounts for up to 85 % of all deaths of cardiac origin. The main cause of death in Western countries, its global incidence is 30-200/100,000 per year.

    Among the child population, sudden cardiac death is a rare event, with a much lower incidence (1-5/100,000 per year), but has enormous impact on families and society. Even today, it remains an unresolved problem. The causes of sudden cardiac death are mainly genetic, so that a patient's family may also be affected without knowing. The diagnosis implies a change in lifestyle and means that the child or young person will experience constant obstacles that prevent them from leading a normal life.

    The goal of the comprehensive care programme for patients with arrhythmic syndromes related to sudden death is to design individualised treatment adapted to each patient in order to achieve normalisation – as far as possible – of the lives of these young patients. That is why the use of remote monitoring platforms is so important: the availability of direct contact with the family, the presence and availability of health workers specialised in remote monitoring and the quickest possible response have helped to reduce both hospitalisation time and hospital attendance, particularly in the time of pandemic. Empowering the young people helped them to accept the disease and actively participate in its evolution. Moreover, the participation of family members is now facilitated by the provision of psychological support and the recent introduction of online visits. Previously, only face-to-face visits were allowed and some family members were often unable to accompany their sons and daughters. Online visits have achieved the participation of a larger number of family members.

    The support of the team at the Hospital San Joan de Déu Arrhythmia, Familial Cardiomyopathy and Genetic Cardiology Unit, directed by Doctor Georgia Sarquella Brugada, and the creation of groups of parents and patients have made it possible to extend integral support and minimise the impact of both the disease and the pandemic. In particularly, the group of expert parents has enabled the unit to provide them with assistance in learning guidelines that can help them to overcome fear and encourage them to give their children the freedom to live their personal situation in the same way as other children their age.

    Project leader: Georgia Sarquella Brugada

    Project duration: 2019-2023

    Grant: €200,000

    » More information

  • Heart failure is the final stage of many cardiovascular diseases and, given its high incidence and prevalence, is one of the most important challenges to medicine today. It is estimated that more than 120,000 people die from cardiovascular diseases in Spain every year, 17,000 of them due to heart failure (45 people per day). Despite new drugs and major advances in surgical techniques, patients with progressive cardiac dysfunction are at high risk of sudden death. One possible strategy to tackle this situation is the regeneration of damaged heart tissue.

    The ICREC (Heart Failure and Cardiac Regeneration) group, led by Doctor Bayés Genís, researches into cardiac therapy using stem cells from various tissues and into tissue engineering by developing patches and structures from biocompatible polymers. The project aims to evaluate the capacity of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived (iPSC) cardiomyocytes, a type of stem cell with pluripotent characteristics (capable of generating most tissues) artificially derived from the adult cells (e.g., blood or skin) of donors or patients. These cells provide a valuable model for the study of cardiac pathology and may become an excellent resource for repairing cardiac tissue.

    Project leader: Antoni Bayés Genís

    Project director: 2016-2020

    Grant: €300,000

Selected projects