Unicaja Banco and the University of Malaga (UMA) have signed an agreement which will allow, thanks to the support of the financial institution, the start-up of a lab to carry out COVID-19 diagnosis with PCR tests, for what it has already received the certification by Instituto de Salud Carlos III as a COVID-19 analysis center. The contribution of Unicaja Banco will allow to acquire and complete the required equipment and to develop, additionally, research on the disease
The agreement, signed by the Chairman of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga, and by the Chancellor of the UMA, José Ángel Narváez, responds to the commitment of both institutions to society and to their interest in joining efforts to fight the COVID-19, so that the union of public and private initiatives allow for the intermediation in the transfer of the knowledge generated by research, development and innovation activities.
The Chairman of Unicaja Banco, Manuel Azuaga, remarked the need to have a contingency plan for the health sector to efficiently face the new outbreaks, as well as to enhance the public-private collaboration. In sum, he advocated the adoption of strategies that allow joining efficiently the minimization of health risks and the maximization of the economic activity potentially developable.
This collaboration with the UMA joins other actions promoted by Unicaja Banco to face the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, in order to support families, businesses and the self-employment, and thus to contribute to the economic reactivation. In fact, during these months, the bank has focused its efforts in the launch of flexible financing and payment solutions for its customers, among other measures, and especially for those in a situation of vulnerability.
The Chancellor of the UMA, José Ángel Narváez, remarked the importance of the agreement to put cutting-edge research on testing at the disposal of the society. The UMA shall be able to develop the capacity that it has with the sponsorship of Unicaja Banco.
At the forefront of science
The lab already exists and is located at the Bioinnovación building, of the Servicios Centrales de Apoyo a la Investigación (SCAI). Unicaja Banco’s economic contribution will allow to acquire and complete the equipment required to place it at the forefront of science to carry out PCR tests immediately.
The activity could start as soon as needed and will be developed by scientific and technical staff from the UMA. Leading the technical section will be Diego Lozano, head of the laboratory and who trained staff at the Hospital Regional de Malaga when health material was donated to fight the pandemic. The scientific section will be headed by Eduardo Rodríguez Bejarano, deputy director of IHSM, and by Pedro Cañada, technical director of SCAI.
At the UMA lab, equipped with the required equipment and infrastructure, the staff will carry out serological tests, and will extract the virus’ RNA and proceed to detection using PCR.
With regard to the COVID-19 tests, details such as their number, periodicity and the population aimed at will be set when determined and when the activity starts.
The start-up of this COVID-19 detection lab will allow the UMA to continue responding to the demands of the society and to be prepared, in the immediate future, to support health institutions and authorities, both in terms of research and service.
The UMA and the Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga (Ibima) were recently certified as COVID-19 analysis centres by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, following the authorization by the Consejería de Salud y Familias and the approval of the Ministry of Health.
Both institutions have labs, equipment and research groups related to the PCR technique, which is used in testing for COVID-19.
Support of Unicaja Banco to UMA
Unicaja Banco maintains a clear commitment to education and training, in general, and to higher education in particular, as well as a close link to Malaga. Therefore, its support to UMA results in an ongoing collaboration with the academic institution, especially in view of the current health situation.
It is whithin the framework of its commitment to society and to the CSR policy that Unicaja Banco wants to continue supporting the dissemination of knowledge and research made by the UMA, a space for reflection, training and knowledge transfer.
The University of Malaga, aware of its important role in Malaga and Andalusia society and in the general sphere of university education, takes the lead to join efforts with the health authorities and with other public and private institutions to fight the COVID-19. Currently, the UMA has been designing, developing and collaborating in several research projects related to this disease.