Meet our Adult COMs: Vall Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

Meet our Adult COMs: Vall Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

Welcome Dr Andreea Ciudin, endocrinology specialist and Lead of the Vall Hebron COMs for adults with obesity in Barcelona, Spain, who is also the Co-Chair of the EASO Obesity Management Working Group. Dr Ciudin’s multidisciplinary team consists of 14 staff members, who work together in this COM’s obesity unit to provide comprehensive management of obesity including medical nutrition therapy, psychological evaluation and counselling support, behaviour modification training, physiotherapy, pharmacotherapy and surgical interventions.

Welcome, Dr Ciudin! Is your COM currently involved in research projects?

Yes, we are actively engaged in both local and national research projects focusing on complications of obesity, such as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), sarcopenia, and cognitive decline. The main project currently is the development of a new tool for the assessment of MASLD, sarcopenic obesity and resting energy expenditure based on automatic software coupled with artificial intelligence able to provide this information “at a glance” through a CT-scan image. Additionally, we focus on research aimed at evaluating biomarkers of response to specific treatment for obesity (eg: genetic load for bariatric surgery, serum biomarkers such as sex-binding globulin, etc). We partner with industry organisations focussed on the development of pharmacotherapies to support clinical obesity management, like Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, and Boehringer Ingelheim.

This sounds like exciting work. Please tell us more about your clinical team. How does your COM attract and retain top talent in your community? What ongoing training and professional development opportunities do you offer to your staff?

We foster a culture of open and transparent participation in projects, clinics, and continuous collaboration on clinical activities including patient care and research. We have weekly team meetings to help maintain this cohesive environment, which makes our team feel like a family! Our COMs offers ongoing training and professional development opportunities, including courses, participation in research projects (both local and clinical trials), and attendance at national and international congresses where team members can present as first authors and meet others in the field.

Have members of your COM team participated in EASO COMs Summits? If so, has your COM team found these Summits valuable?

Yes, members of our team have participated in EASO COMs Summits, which been excellent opportunities to meet people and share knowledge. We are very excited that the next EASO COMs Summit is likely to be held towards the end of 2024 in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), during the SEEDO congress. We look forward to welcoming the COMs network. We thought holding the two events together would be great opportunity to share our congress and to join forces for SEEDO’s traditional march on the street to increase awareness of obesity as a chronic disease.

Thank you, we are also certainly looking forward to the COMs Summit in Santiago de Compostela! To finish off, what are the main challenges your COM currently faces? Have you any ideas on how you are going to overcome these challenges to enhance the work of your COM?

One of our main challenges is the high volume of patients with obesity referred to our COM from general practitioners (GPs) and other specialists. Over the next 3-5 years, we plan to address this challenge by increasing the number of people in our multidisciplinary team. One of our main aims as a COM is to shift the paradigm of obesity management amongst healthcare professionals. We established a bi-directional relationship with GPs in our area a few years ago to support effective obesity management for patients across the lifespan. Presently, we are focusing on strengthening our relationships with these GPs. As part of this effort, we have created a working group on obesity in collaboration with local GPs, and we are working in a very collaborative way. Notably, we co-design the annual educational course for GPs with this working group and maintain communication channels with multidisciplinary team members: physicians, nurses, nutritionists, psychologist.

This ‘Meet the COMs’ edition was an interview with Dr Andreea Ciudin, who highlighted excellent work of the Vall Hebron COMs for adults with obesity. Dr Ciudin gave insights into this COM’s current research projects, strategies for talent retention, participation in EASO COMs Summits, and current challenges faced by the centre. Thank you Andreea!