Two Vall d’Hebron professionals are ambassadors of the ERS International Congress, the world's most important congress on respiratory diseases

These professionals are Dr Marc Miravitlles and Dr Miriam Barrecheguren, researchers from the Pneumology Research Group at the VHIR and assistant physicians in the Pneumology Department at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital.


The 2021 European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress, the world’s largest in this field, will soon be held. These annual congresses, which are hosted in a different European city each year, bring together 20,000 to 25,000 professionals from the sector for each time. This year’s Congress was originally scheduled to be held in Barcelona. However, due to the spread of Covid-19, the event will now be held entirely online. Despite this change of format, the Congress has still decided to name two professionals who work in the host city as event ambassadors. These are Dr Marc Miravitlles, from the Pneumology Department of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and principal investigator of the Pneumology Research Group at the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR); and Dr Miriam Barrecheguren, assistant physician in the same hospital department and investigator in the same VHIR Research Group.

“We are delighted to be named ambassadors of the ERS Congress”, said Dr Marc Miravitlles, “because it is recognition of the fantastic work carried out by Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in international activities. These include helping to shape the ERS’ guidelines on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as helping to coordinate various European collaborations such as the EARCO registry (European Alpha-1 antitrypsin Deficiency Collaboration).

The Congress, which will take place between 6 and 8 September, will cover all aspects of respiratory diseases across 350 sessions and will include presentations of some 3,000 abstracts of scientific papers and articles. As explained by Dr Miriam Barrecheguren, “the main theme of this year’s Congress is the use of digital healthcare to improve the quality of care received by patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases”. For this reason, during the event “there will be sessions dedicated to remote applications, portable devices and other technologies that allow for a more accurate treatment and follow-up of patients suffering from these pathologies”. Dr Miravitlles and Dr Barrecheguren will moderate the special Congress session on the topic of digital healthcare.

Other Vall d’Hebron professionals set to participate in the ERS International Congress are Dr Xavier Muñoz and Dr Iñigo Ojanguren, both of whom belong to the Pneumology Department of Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and work as principal investigators for the VHIR's Pneumology Research Group. Dr Muñoz and Dr Ojanguren will give a presentation on the new regulations on the diagnosis of asthma in acute patients that incorporate the use of nitric oxide. Furthermore, various professionals from the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s Pneumology Department will present the preliminary results of the EARCO international registry, coordinated from the Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) with the first 500 patients suffering from the rare alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; and, in collaboration with members of the Biochemistry Department, they will also present a study on novel pathogenic pathways of this same disease. Dr Miriam Barrecheguren will also give a presentation on COPD biomarkers.

New to this year’s ERS International Congress are the skills workshops, which are more geared towards clinical practice. Eight pre-recorded skills workshops will explore techniques such as chest ultrasounds, cardiopulmonary exercise testing and mechanical ventilation.

The Congress will also have a section dedicated to Covid-19, in which the results of coronavirus-related clinical trials and basic scientific studies will be presented. Obstructive diseases such as asthma and COPD will also be discussed in depth, with presentations being given on the major advances on new biologic treatments based on biologically-produced monoclonal antibodies for the most severe patients who do not respond to corticosteroids. Another of the main sections will focus on pulmonary fibrosis, with new drugs for treating the disease due to be presented.

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