SEQC Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine

The European Union selects the Galiat Study as a model of innovative management


The study, which assesses the health effects of the Atlantic diet, is considered of interest by the SEQCML, as it was led by clinical laboratory professionals

  • The study is considered of interest by the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML), as it was led by clinical laboratory professionals
  • The initiative is considered by the Interreg Atlantic Area program of the European Union as an open and user-centered innovation ecosystem, based on co-creation and co-learning and capable of transferring progress to the everyday life
  • Participants in the 'Galiat' clinical trial on the impact of a diet based on the traditional Galician diet experienced an improvement in their metabolic health
  • Chosen for presenting an innovative “four helix” management approach, which involves public institutions, industry, research, and citizens

The Interreg Atlantic Area Program of the European Union, which covers various transnational cooperation projects between European countries and regions in the Atlantic area, has selected the Galiat Study as a model of innovative 4H management. The inclusion of this study within the framework of the 4H, or “four-helix”, model implies that the European program considers the Galiat Study as an open and user-centered innovation ecosystem, based on co-creation and co-learning and integrating research, health improvement, and innovation processes in real-life communities and settings.

The Galiat Study is part of the Galiat 6 + 7 Project, a public-private alliance between six Galician food companies and seven public research organizations to address the study of agri-food and marine resources in northwestern Spain and their effects on health. The original idea came from the Viticulture group of Misión Biológica de Galicia-CSIC, which successfully managed scientific coordination between research groups and companies for more than 50 months. The project had the financial support of the Feder-Innterconecta program of the European Union. The Galiat Study, a randomized, controlled, nutritional intervention clinical trial designed to evaluate the effects of the Atlantic diet in 250 families, has already received several awards. The research team was coordinated by Dr. Mar Calvo, from the Clinical Analysis Department of the Hospital Clínico Universitario de Santiago, and a member of the Communication Committee of the SEQCML, for whom this is a very important recognition, “since only eight European projects carried out during the 2014-2020 period were selected”.

Throughout its development, the Galiat Study was considered of interest and closely followed by the Spanish Society of Laboratory Medicine (SEQCML), as it was led by professionals from the Clinical Laboratory. According to Mar Calvo “already in 2013 the general project was designed with the involvement of public institutions, researchers and health professionals, companies, and citizens. In our group we de facto anticipated the current model of the Galician public health system, uniting in a single team the health professionals of primary and specialized care, involving the public, promoting the scientific/technical training of all participants, and converting the town of A Estrada, where the clinical trial was carried out, into an authentic Living Lab”.

"There are very few studies with a clinical trial design that evaluate preventive community interventions aimed at the general population", explained Dr. Calvo to highlight the importance of this trial so that Laboratory Medicine would be provided with scientific evidence when assessing the balance of a diet in people´s health.

The clinical trial involved 250 families from the Pontevedra town of A Estrada (720 people, between children and adults), who were randomly divided into two groups, one of intervention (127 families) and the other a control (123 families). For six months, the families of the intervention group participated in a nutritional and gastronomic education program and were given typical foods of the Atlantic diet. "In other words, our Galician diet, healthy, economical, tasty, respectful with the environment, and congruent with our gastronomic cultural heritage", according to the doctor. In the A Estrada Health Center where the field work was carried out, more than 50 professionals acted as collaborating researchers. In addition, the City Council, a Hospitality School, local restaurants, local companies, the local press were involved.

A model of Innovative management

One of the highly valued factors in this initiative is its multidisciplinary nature, a public-private collaboration and an innovative management model designed so that all players would work in the same direction. “With so many professionals, many of them outside our organization, an efficient management model was essential. We drew up a work plan with all the activities, work procedures, responsibilities, necessary materials, and a schedule for the healthcare personnel involved and local collaborators. Once the study was finished, the interaction between healthcare and community services crystallized in the approval of a Local Health Plan that incorporates family nutritional education with a traditional diet”, explains Dr. Calvo.

“From the science-business collaboration, research and innovation were promoted as part of the strategic management of food companies, something that in addition to improving the nutritional and organoleptic characteristics of the products, is also a key factor in promoting a healthy, sustainable and culturally appropriate diet in the population, and is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The coordination between the companies and the research groups was the responsibility of Dr. Carmen Martínez Rodriguez, from the Misión Biológica de Galicia-CSIC, and was one of the key aspects in the selection of our study, ”says Calvo.

All these factors were taken into account by the European entity, as they are aligned with the four-helix model (4H). Interreg Atlantic Area also highlighted the very deliberate and intense transparency throughout the project, something that undoubtedly helped to build trust and overcome the barriers that might arise between healthcare professionals and companies. This recognition, therefore, highlights a management model based on innovation, competitiveness, transparency, knowledge, and teamwork.