Lars Bjerrum: "There are global problems that can only be addressed through international collaboration"
Danish family doctor, professor at the University of Copenhagen and one of the leading European experts in bacterial resistance, Lars Bjerrum has recently joined the External Scientific Committee of our Institute. Seva was one of the speakers during the IDIAPJGol-ICS Primary Care Research Grant awarding ceremony, in which he discussed the international projection of the IDIAPJGol.
Bjerrum emphasized the increasing participation of IDIAPJGol in projects outside our borders and the importance of continuing to grow in this area: "There are global problems that can only be addressed through international collaboration. [...]. In addition, the major funds for research are in Europe and you need to prepare to be able to access them." In this sense, he detailed the evolution of European projects such as the Happy Audit and the more recent Happy Patient and Imagine, in which the IDIAPJGol has a key role through the Research Group on Infections in Primary Care (GRIP) . The group led by Carles Llor has found in the collaboration with Bjerrum a way to grow through internationalization.
Bjerrum also committed to "facilitating the mobility of doctors to do research in other countries", because stays abroad are decisive for establishing relationships and developing international projects. In his presentation, he also addressed his main field of study: the fight against bacterial resistance, for which it is necessary to "break myths" such as the one that ensures that the antibiotic treatment regimen must always be completed. "A long treatment causes more resistance than a short one. In the long run it is more harmful to health, and there is no evidence to support that it is effective once the symptoms have disappeared.
IDIAPJgol- How did you find out about our research institute?
Lars Bjerrum- I lived for a while in Barcelona and, more than 20 years ago, I was working there with a drug-epidemiology group. As a family doctor, I wanted to meet more doctors here. For this reason, I contacted the president of the CAMFiC (Dolors Forés), who directed me to the coordinator of the Infectious Investigations Group, Josep Cots. I met him during a conference at Hospital de Sant Pau, we chatted and shared, and that's how the collaboration began. Precisely, the last time I was in this building (ICS headquarters) was with him. He suggested I talk to the ICS to implement the rapid tests we were using in Denmark, a tool to lower the use of antibiotics.
What was the first collaboration project with our institute?
It was Happy Audit, an ambitious project that we presented to the European Commission in 2007. It costs a lot to get Europe to approve your project. I spent two months writing the application. In the end we won and they gave us the money. It was a project where we collaborated with different countries, not only Spain and Denmark, but also Argentina, Sweden and Norway. The aim was to reduce the use of antibiotics in the population and we achieved interesting results.
This project has had continuity, right?
Yes, we are now developing the Happy Patient, a new program that follows the same objective and in which more countries like France collaborate. And we are also working on the Imagine project, which will last for three years. These are very strong collaborations and will have a great impact on the use of antibiotics in the future.
How do you value the work done by IDIAPJGol?
Very good, essential to carry out all these projects. Personally, I really like working with doctors here, there is a very high standard. International collaboration is extremely important and projects like these are good proof of that.