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Roxana Salehi: "Barcelona welcomes world-class health researchers"

Roxana Salehi: "Barcelona welcomes world-class health researchers"

Barcelona is home to world class health researchers

Roxana Salehi, from Canada, has lived in Tehran, Portland, New York, Accra, and Toronto, before moving to Barcelona with her family in December of 2019. She is the founder of Vitus Consulting (, helping organizations around the world design and improve their health and education programs using scientific research and evaluation.

Why did you choose Barcelona?

I have always had this fascination with Barcelona, even as a child. When I visited the city for the first time, I loved it instantly and kept coming back to visit. I like the vibe of the city, the fact that it’s multicultural, and that you can always find the sun. La Sagrada Familia had a big influence on me and inspired me to learn about its history and the history of Barcelona.

What do you like most about the city?

Barcelona acoge a algunos de los mejores científicos e investigadores en salud a nivel mundial; hay una gran comunidad en ciencias de la vida y de la salud en la ciudad que está dotada para ofrecer tecnología innovadora y medicamentos que salven vidas. Cada vez hay más empresas de salud digital que trabajan en el apoyo a la toma de decisiones clínicas, la gestión de pacientes y la atención domiciliaria. La crisis del COVID-19 ha demostrado que son áreas de trabajo importantes.

What aspects of the city must be improved? How?

When you are new to the city, you need a bit time to learn Catalan and Spanish and figure out how everything works. At the moment, however, the process of getting residency is unclear and bureaucratic and there is no language accessibility. There is room to be more efficient and inclusive.

Which are the city's strengths that will allow it to overcome the COVID-19 crisis?

Although moving here in the same year as COVID-19 has been challenging, I have met several amazing organizations and people who have taken the time to show me the ecosystem of health research and innovation in Barcelona. This mentality, of openness and the desire to collaborate and innovate, is critical for developing strategies that are going to help the city overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

What other challenges do you think the city will face once the health crisis ends? 

Vulnerable communities have felt the negative effects of Covid-19 more than others. Once this crisis is over, the lingering effects of this inequality will persist for a few years. To close this gap, we will need a commitment to social justice and evidence-based policy.

What do you expect from Barcelona in the coming years?

Barcelona will continue to attract people who want to both enjoy the city and contribute to its prosperity. The question is how to blend in the local and the global talent, for maximum positive benefit not only to Barcelona, but to the whole world, because we are all connected.

What city do you consider your city? What do you miss the most?

Both Toronto and Barcelona are “my cities”. They both feel like home. I miss the majestic trees of High Park in Toronto. In Barcelona, I miss the sound of live music in stunningly beautiful venues such as The Palau, hoping concerts could resume soon.

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