Cardiovascular Diseases and Child Development

Our research efforts include a major clinical component that seeks to address a specific set of clinical challenges. The impact of our research on the health system and society in general could be far-reaching as most of our projects focus on health issues and diseases with high morbidity and mortality rates.

Our hospital is a RCSU-accredited reference centre for congenital heart surgery and for the treatment and management of paediatric arrhythmias. We are also a RCSU centre for inherited heart diseases and one of the coordinating centres for the European Network in Paediatric Cardiology.

The SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital is now the leading centre for cardiac surgeries with over 300 surgeries per year, the highest in the country, including about 165 surgeries a year with extracorporeal circulation. It is also both a national and European reference centre not only in terms of the number of surgeries but, more importantly, for its extremely low (<1%) surgical mortality rates. Our team coordinates, jointly with other basic research groups, the European network in addition to our investigations into the pathophysiology of some of these diseases.

The group has been a member of the Maternal and Child Health and Development Research Network (SAMID) since 2018 and a designated emerging research group by the AGAUR since 2016 (Government of Catalonia, SGR reference).

Research lines

  1. Impact of congenital heart disease on neurodevelopment: from foetus to adulthood, focusing on identifying the mechanisms leading to brain injury in patients with heart disease undergoing cardiac surgery, with the aim of identifying predictors of poor prognosis.
  2. Research on paediatric arrhythmias and sudden death (SD) syndrome, on SD risk stratification, exploring possible new SD molecular markers and developing new non-invasive diagnostic strategies.
  3. Cardiac functioning and monitoring: computational analysis and advanced imaging techniques, developing computational models and new imaging techniques for the study of cardiac functioning as well as the development of new monitoring systems.

Scientific objectives

  1. To develop and validate biomarkers for the diagnosis of post-op neuronal lesions.
  2. To develop new strategies to monitor brain function.
  3. To develop new preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce brain injury associated with cardiac surgery.
  4. To describe and functionally validate new genes implicated in SD.
  5. To develop computational models to virtually study the pathophysiological behaviour of congenital heart diseases.

Area/Field of expertise

Our group is made up of clinicians from different specialities (neonatologists, cardiologists, intensivists, surgeons, etc.) as well as psychologists, biologists, molecular biologists, lab technicians and engineering scientists who together offer a multidisciplinary approach to the challenges posed by research into cardiovascular diseases in the early stages of life. As well as deploying the most advanced clinical diagnostic methodologies (such as MRI, integrated amplitude electroencephalogram, brain oxygenation monitors, etc.), our laboratory performs basic lab techniques needed to measure brain injury and oxidative stress biomarkers.

We have devised experimental models to study brain injury in an animal model of paediatric extracorporeal circulation. This not only allows us to observe the mechanisms implicated in the injury but also to contemplate possible new therapeutic strategies.

Group members

Last Publications

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Project name:
Artificial intelligence based monitoring system for the personalized care of children with congenital heart disease (AI-COR)
Patricia Garcia Cañadilla
Funding entities:
Fundació La Marató de TV3, Fundació Privada per a la Recerca i la Docència Sant Joan de Déu - FSJD, Ruiz Herguido, Cristina
Starting - finishing date:
2024 - 2027
Project name:
Creación de un programa personalizado de actividad física dirigida para deportistas de competición diagnosticados de un síndrome hereditario asociado a muerte súbita (PAC-SAMS).
Georgia Sarquella Brugada
Funding entities:
Fundació Privada per a la Recerca i la Docència Sant Joan de Déu - FSJD, Consejo Superior de Deportes, Martínez Barrios, Estefanía
Starting - finishing date:
2023 - 2023
Project name:
SGR 2022-2024_Arrítmies pediàtriques, cardiopaties familiars, genètica cardiovascular i mort sobtada (SAMS)
Georgia Sarquella Brugada
Funding entities:
Agaur - Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca
2021 SGR 01520
Starting - finishing date:
2022 - 2025
More projects


  • Bases genéticas de la muerte súbita
  • Implementación de un Modelo de evaluación de conocimiento en Cardiología Pediátrica
  • ECG como herramienta para diagnóstico para la enfermedad de Kawasaki
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