Scientific consultants to European parliaments to discuss the challenges of personalised medicine in the Catalan parliament.

Science and technology advisors to parliaments across Europe will be gathering in the Catalan parliament on 22 and 23 October at the annual meeting of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment (EPTA) network. This year’s meeting is being organised by the Catalan Parliament’s Science and Technology Advisory Board (CAPCIT) as the network’s current chair. EPTA’s board will meet on Monday 22nd with a resolution for Finland to take over the chair in 2013 as one of the points on its agenda and on Tuesday 23rd the annual conference, whose topic this year is personalised medicine, will take place.

EPTA comprises the science and technology assessment offices and organisations of the European parliament and the parliaments of Denmark, Finland, Flanders, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, as well as Catalonia. The Council of Europe and the offices of the parliaments of Austria, Poland and the United States are associate members, and the network also has contacts with Chile, China and Japan.

The Catalan parliament is the only one in Spain that has a body of this kind – its Advisory Board for Science and Technology (CAPCIT). Moreover, the parliaments of Catalonia and Flanders are the only two EPTA members that are not State parliaments.

The Catalan Parliament has held the presidency of EPTA since 1 January, but once the appropriate resolution has been passed at Monday’s meeting, Finland will take over from it.

Debate on personalised medicine

At 9.30 am on Tuesday, Núria de Gispert, the current president of the Parliament of Catalonia, who is also chair of CAPCIT, will open the conference which has been organised by the Catalan Parliament, in its capacity as chair of EPTA, with the collaboration of the Catalan Ministry of Health and the Directorate-General for Research, on the challenges on the road to personalised medicine. The opening session will also be addressed by the Secretary for Universities and Research, Antoni Castellà, and the head of Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Health, Marta Aymerich.

The needs and challenges of personalised medicine, the limits of prognosis, genetic and sociocultural contributions to the risk of illness, bioethics and social responsibilities, and the sustainability of personalised medicine and its global consequences are some of the issues that will be dealt with in various sessions.

Those who will be taking part in these sessions include Montserrat Vendrell, CEO of the Biophysics Collaborative Access Team (BioCAT) and chair of the Council of European Bioregions; Josep Maria Borràs, scientific director of the Catalan Oncology Institute; Manel Esteller, from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute; Jordi Camí, general manager of the Pasqual Maragall Foundation and the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park; Joan Rodés, from the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute; Manolis Kogevinas, from the Centre for Research on Environmental Epidemiology; Ingrid Geesink, from the Rathenau Instituut, and Oriol Solà-Morales, director of the Pere Virgili Healthcare Research Institute.