#MeetTheExperts: Jose Ignacio Pijoan Zubizarreta

May 24, 2022

Who works behind the scenes of the NeoIPC project? Meet the wonderful team of people coming together to find a way to end healthcare-associated infections in newborns. In the first interview of the #MeetTheExperts series, let’s hear from Jose Ignacio Pijoan Zubizarreta, who works at Osakidetza – Basque Health Service (Servicio Vasco de Salud).


Can you tell us about your career up to this point?

I trained as a medical doctor, specialised in Internal Medicine and worked as a clinician for some time. Then I moved to the Medical Records and Clinical Information Management of my hospital and almost simultaneously started a training career in Clinical Epidemiology, first in Madrid and followed with further short trainings in USA and Holland. I shared clinical duties with my work at the Clinical Epidemiology Unit until some ten years ago. Now I am focused on clinical and epidemiological research mostly in the neonatal area, but I am also involved in research aimed at improving transfer of scientific evidence into routine clinical practice in my hospital.

Can you tell us more about your role in NeoIPC?

I am leading the Spanish team involved in the setting up of a general standardised surveillance system for multiresistant organisms (MRO) colonisation and infections in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at large-scale, that allows to participate and benefit NICUs from high, middle and low-resource settings. We have experience with the adaptation to some 50 Spanish NICUs of the German NEO-KISS surveillance system for very low birthweight infants. I am trying to collaborate from my epidemiological experience and willingness to contribute to a safer healthcare to newborns, especially the most fragile.

What are you most looking forward to in NeoIPC?

If we are able to set up a surveillance system that enables healthcare professionals, managers and policymakers to get access to basic but valuable information on resistance burden and patterns, we will substantially contribute to a potential reduction in deaths and morbidity, which in these patients often means long years of disability and lost opportunities in life. In addition, this work package will enable a more targeted use of antibiotics, helping to tackle the increasingly worrisome problem of progressive antimicrobial resistance and loss of efficacy. No less important would be to engage in an ongoing, active international network of multidisciplinary professionals devoted to developing strategies and tools aimed at preventing and minimising healthcare-related illness and suffering.

Tell us a surprising thing about you.

Well, I do not think I have very surprising activities. I enjoy meeting people and having friendly, enriching talks, especially in a walk or during a meal. I like many different kinds of music, Nature, “gentle” trekking through the hills and mountains, cycling and skiing. I have started recently learning to cook and find it very enjoyable, although my level is still basic as far as creativity is concerned. I believe I have a good chance to improve!

What’s your favourite animal?

We have a poodle at home. His name is Darwin and he is really, really clever!

What’s your favourite book?

I enjoy reading novels, travel guides (imagining a place before I go or sometime imagining I go) and biographies of interesting people (scientists, travellers, musicians, etc.)

What’s your favourite travel destination?

Too many places I have not been to. I would like to visit Australia and Canada, just to name two of a long list.