Carmen Muñoz-Almagro has been honored by the Barcelona Medical Association for her career in biomedical research

Dr. Carmen Muñoz-Almagro, a researcher from the Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu, has been honored with one of the Professional Excellence Awards, which are annually bestowed by the Barcelona Medical Association. This award recognizes doctors and medical teams from the Barcelona region who have distinguished themselves for excellence and quality in their professional activities.

Dr. Carmen Muñoz-Almagro is the coordinator of the Infectious diseases and microbiome research group at the Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu (IRSJD) · SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital. The group is primarily engaged in the study of clinical, molecular, and epidemiological aspects, thereby enhancing the diagnosis of significant pediatric infectious diseases, as well as examining the human microbiota.

Carmen Muñoz-Almagro research focuses on the study of microorganisms that are responsible for the elevated prevalence of infectious diseases in the pediatric population. In recent times, the group has primarily focused on analyzing viruses and bacteria that infiltrate the human nasopharynx and exhibit dual behaviors. Some people don't get sick or have no symptoms from these microbes, while others get serious illnesses like sepsis or meningitis. One of the microorganisms that the group has extensively studied is pneumococcus.


Pneumococcal disease is recognized as one of the primary causes of mortality associated with pediatric infectious diseases in the world. Despite the existence of potent vaccines, this bacterium can devise strategies that limit its efficacy. The adaptation strategies of bacteria to vaccines and ensure patient protection are understood by studies conducted by Dr. Carmen Muñoz-Almagro.

Since the 1990s, the research team has conducted molecular characterization of pneumococcus, which causes severe illness. This has resulted in the development of more efficacious vaccines and improved medical decisions for prevention. They have also conducted research on the environments of children, encompassing environmental factors, immunity, and microbiota. The research team has explored the world of microbiota by utilizing advanced sequencing techniques, examining how the interaction between diverse microorganisms can alter the behavior of pneumococcus and other bacteria.

"Our findings indicate that nasopharyngeal microbiota are associated with health or, conversely, respiratory disease. In healthy children, the microbiota is abundant and varied, with numerous bacterial species. Conversely, individuals suffering from severe illness have a microbiota depleted of healthy bacteria, with a predominant presence of very specific pathogenic bacteria. It is as if certain bacteria acquire a significant amount of strength and overwhelm the others." Dr. Muñoz-Almagro affirms this.


Microbiota exploration is still in its early stages. Dr. Carmen Muñoz asserts that the experience of viewing a black-and-white film is comparable to that of a black-and-white movie, however, by employing contemporary research methodologies, this world will gradually be uncovered and comprehended. The group aims to comprehend the rationale behind why certain bacterial communities possess the ability to safeguard against a particular disease while simultaneously potentially escalating the likelihood of developing another pathology.

"We also want to understand the involvement of the microbiota in non-infectious diseases such as cancer or metabolic disorders. For instance, there have been studies conducted on adults that have demonstrated a correlation between the type of intestinal microbiota and the favorable or unfavorable response to immunotherapy in patients with melanoma. We have recently initiated a study to examine the correlation between the nasopharyngeal and intestinal microbiota and the response to immunotherapy in pediatric patients with neuroblastomas. Dr. Muñoz-Almagro concluded.

"Las vacunas favorecen una microbiota rica y diversa" Read the full interview in spanish on the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital website.


Professional Excellence Awards have been granted since 2004 based on the judgment of juries composed of highly esteemed doctors. They represent the medical profession's recognition of professionals and healthcare teams with an exemplary track record of providing top-quality medical care and upholding the values that define medical professionalism. The awards from the Barcelona Medical Association highlight trajectories based on honesty, commitment, altruism, integrity, well-executed work, and excellence. Over the years, nearly 900 professionals and 45 teams have received awards.

The association awards professionals in six different areas: hospital care medicine, primary care medicine, other healthcare fields, biomedical research, medical education, and humanities, cooperation, and management. Additionally, four awards are given for healthcare teams to recognize the leadership and excellence of doctors working collaboratively.

Dr. Carmen Muñoz-Almagro has been studying pneumococcus in children for over 20 years and has published more than 110 scientific articles on the subject.