CHU Vall d’Hebron

Vall d’Hebron University Hospital (VHUH) is a third level public hospital and is part of the Institut Catalá de la Salut (ICS), the Catalan public health system that depends on the Health Department of the Catalan Government. VHUH is the largest hospital in Catalonia and one of the biggest in Spain. The hospital provides care, research, teaching and innovation at the service of the patients.

The hospital can provide care to highly complex patients, and therefore, it’s a reference centre in Catalonia and Spain for different pathologies. The hospital trains health professionals through different programmes; from the university level through to residency and specialized training, at the same time as committing to continuous professional development for professionals. The hospital, together with Vall d’Hebron Institut de Recerca (VHIR) is committed to research as a tool to provide solutions to the daily challenges we face in the field of medical healthcare. VHIR is a research institute that gives support for clinical research to the VHUH.

In 2016 the Spina Bifida Transversal Research Programme was created within the VHIR. This programme promotes synergy between groups of different research areas. The programme has four research lines:

  1. Basic research: focused on the development of new therapeutic strategies with stem cells and tissue engineering;
  2. New techniques in diagnosis and therapy;
  3. Clinical research and lifetime health care;
  4. Education. 

The Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) group is the research group of the Obstetrics Department at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital. The MFM group has a broad experience in research in the field of maternal medicine. The Obstetrics Department attends about 3,000 deliveries per year and is a referral centre for high-risk pregnancies such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, placenta accreta or maternal disease. In 2016 the multidisciplinary unit of placenta accreta was created, and since then it has become a reference centre in Catalonia for this pathology.

The Spina bifida Unit at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital has more than 35 years of experience in the care of patients with spina bifida. The monitoring carried out in this unit from the prenatal period to adulthood, without transition, makes it a unique unit of great international recognition. Prenatal assessment of spina bifida: our group described a new method to establish the motor prognosis of these children prenatally. Nowadays, this technique is widely used and has been adopted by other groups in order to advise the parents about the motor prognosis of their future baby. The translational research carried out by our group has allowed our hospital to become a European reference centre for prenatal repair of spina bifida, with more than 50 surgeries performed in the last nine years.

Elena Carreras

Elena Carreras is the Head of the Obstetrics Department and is an associate professor at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. She has been the president of the Catalan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology between 2012 and 2018. She is currently a scientific advisor of the Spanish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is an author/co-author of more than 90 journal articles. Her research has focused on Maternal and Fetal health. She is the head of the Maternal Fetal Medicine research group.

From the field of the obstetric ultrasound, she has evolved to fetal medicine and surgery (fetal-fetal transfusions, diaphragmatic hernia, etc.) with a special focus on prenatal repair of spina bifida. She is a specialist in fetal medicine and surgery, especially monochorionic twin pregnancies, fetal ultrasound and preterm birth prevention.

She leads the Spina Bifida Transversal Research Programme at the VHIR, promoting research and education. She has several publications in this field

Nerea Maiz

Consultant in Obstetrics. She is currently the Research Coordinator of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine group at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital. Her scientific career began in 2006, when she joined as a research fellow in the Harri’s Birthright Research Center for Fetal Medicine at King’s College Hospital (London, UK) under the supervision of Professor Nicolaides, for three years.

In this centre, she carried out a work of research as principal investigator, which ended with the presentation of her doctoral thesis in 2010 at the University of Barcelona. She has been an Associate Professor at the University of the Basque Country between 2012 and 2016. She is currently a board member of the Ultrasound Section of the Spanish Society of Obs & Gyne.

Pablo García Manau

Consultant in Obstetrics. He obtained his degree in Medicine from the University of Barcelona and specialized in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Mútua de Terrassa University Hospital.

Currently, he belongs to the Obstetrics Department of Vall d’Hebron Hospital, where he is sub-specializing in Fetal Medicine and particularly research on prenatal repair of spina bifida.

Teresa Higueras

MD, PhD, Consultant in obstetrics. She won a post-doctoral grant (Fleming program) for research training abroad and worked with Professor Kypros Nicolaides at the Harri’s Birthright Research Center for Fetal Medicine at King’s College Hospital (London, UK), for 2.5 years. Currently, she is in charge of the obstetric ultrasound area of the Obstetrics Service at Vall d’Hebrón Barcelona Hospital Campus doing ultrasound scans in pregnant women controlled in the units of prenatal diagnosis and high-risk pregnancies. Coordinator of Congenital defects and Fetal medicine clinical committee. Ultrasound reference doctor of Acreta-placenta-unit (UMPA). Associate Professor at the UAB (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona) since 2014.

Silvia Arévalo

She is a consultant at de Fetal Medicine Unit and the Head of the Outpatients Clinic of the Obstetrics Department at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital. She has been working in fetal malformations, monochorionic twins and fetal therapy since then. She is in charge of the Fetal Spina bifida clinic at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital, and she is working in her PhD thesis about spina bifida prenatal repair.

Carlota Rodó

She is a consultant at de Fetal Medicine Unit of the Obstetrics Department at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital since 2009. She is the Coordinator of Education at the Obstetrics Department of the hospital. She is in charge of the Neurosonography Unit. She is a researcher at Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR); part of her research has focused on fetal infections. In this field, she developed her doctoral thesis on the prenatal diagnosis of Zika virus infection that she presented in 2018. She participates at the Spina Bifida Transversal Research Programme.

Alba Farrás

Dr. Farràs is an obstetrician and gynecologist at Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus. She mainly works in the field of prenatal ultrasound diagnosis.
She is also a researcher in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine group at Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) where she is currently completing her doctoral thesis. Her research focuses primarily on the prevention of prematurity. She also has a particular interest in the application of new technologies in healthcare, and she is carrying out several projects in 3D printing and web development.