CIESAL researcher awarded Honorary Doctorate by the Universidad de Valparaíso


For his outstanding contribution to evidence generation in clinical epidemiology and the training of new generations of doctors in the field of research, the Universidad de Valparaíso has awarded an Honorary Doctorate to Gerard Urrútia Cuchí, the prominent Spanish doctor of Catalan origin. Dr. Urrútia is a clinical researcher, specialising in preventive medicine and public health and is the director of the Iberoamerican Cochrane Network.

The award ceremony was attended by various university officers, including the rector Osvaldo Corrales, the dean of the Faculty of Medicine Antonio Orellana and the director of the School of Medicine, Catherine Soto, as well as teachers and students.

After presenting him with the medal and the honorary degree certificate, the rector welcomed Professor Gerard Urrútia onto the academic staff of the UV, thanking him for his permanent collaboration in research work with students and academics belonging to different units and study centres of the UV. He also highlighted the fact that he was settling a debt with the specialist in clinical epidemiology, given that the honour was awarded in 2019, but the ceremony had to be postponed, first because of the outbreak of social unrest in Chile and then because of the pandemic.

The laudatio, setting out the human and academic merits for obtaining the award, was given by Eva Madrid, UV doctor and PhD in Medicine, co-director of the Cochrane Centre Chile and director of CIESAL, a research centre with which Dr. Urrútia has been collaborating for many years. The UV School of Medicine professor highlighted Gerard Urrútia’s contribution to the field of public medicine, and his longstanding relationship with the Faculty: “For many years we have received his generous collaboration in various research projects, training specialists, evidence generation for clinical practice guidelines and numerous other tasks”, recalled Dr. Madrid.

Eva Madrid described certain details of Dr. Urrútia’s early life. His father was a doctor at a Christian hospital in Barcelona to which he dedicated a large part of his life, to the point of living in an adjoining house to be closer to his patients. This vocation for his fellow man, this sensitivity to people’s suffering, led a young Gerard Urrútia to enrol at the Autonomous University of Barcelona to study medicine and devote himself to public health as the best way to contribute to mitigating human suffering, improving the quality of life of patients and promoting a dignified death, especially among the most vulnerable populations.

“The influence of his father’s great sensitivity strengthened his humanist perspective on medicine. He never saw medicine as profit or as an instrument of social advancement, and his commitment to quality care, together with the overriding need for health services to be efficient, effective, equitable and appropriate, led him to pursue a doctorate in public health and scientific research methodology,” noted Dr. Eva Madrid during her speech. This approach to medicine led him to join and devote a great part of his energy to the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network based in the United Kingdom dedicated to the study of efficiency in health and high quality scientific evidence based medicine, in accordance with accumulated medical experience and the patients’ own perspective. He was one of the founders of the first Cochrane Centre in Spain and is currently director of the Iberoamerican Cochrane Network. In addition, for decades, Gerard Urrútia has been part of a research team at the Santa Creu i Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, where medical students from the Universidad de Valparaíso have completed internships, and he also teaches at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

In his speech of thanks to close the event, Dr. Urrútia began by reviewing his ties with Chile, the closeness he feels to part of its recent history and its cultural wealth, and specifically with the Universidad de Valparaíso in the field of research and training of medical students. Dr. Urrútia referred to the values that underpin the link between public health and epidemiology, a discipline to which he has devoted a good part of his professional life, and emphasised the importance of commitment to teamwork, noting that he felt the honorary doctoral degree to be a recognition of the collective effort of all health professionals dedicated to the generation of medical evidence to inform decision making in health.  During his speech, Gerard Urrútia emphasised the social aspect of public medicine, which entails always being at the service of the community, and he also highlighted the enormous importance of the development of epidemiology for the control and combat of contagions and epidemics that have devastated and will continue to devastate humanity, as the recent Covid-19 pandemic reminds us.



Cochrane Iberoamerica Bulletin

To watch speeches during the ceremony: