The relationship between Johns Hopkins University and Pompeu Fabra University materialized when the former Mayor of Barcelona, Mr. Pasqual Maragall i Mira, joined JHU as a visiting professor in Hopkins' Center of Urban Affairs. He looked to the School of Public Health for advice as to how the City of Barcelona should address several public health issues emerging at that time. This relationship with Barcelona City and its Public Health Department further developed when Mr. Pasqual Maragall was elected President of the Catalonian Government. He worked with the School of Public Health in helping to prepare Barcelona City for the 1992 Olympic Games.

When Pompeu Fabra University was founded in 1990, the partnership continued to flourish as several Hopkins professors assisted in creating a successful Public and Social Policy Program. This program provides a Master degree in Spanish, with faculty members from the Johns Hopkins University participating in teaching the courses.

Another early collaboration that continues to flourish today is the Fall Institute, led by the Department of Health Policy and Management of the Bloomberg School, Pompeu Fabra University and the Public Health Agency of Barcelona. Every November, the Institute attracts professionals from all over the world who come to Barcelona to participate in courses on different areas of Health Policy and Management,Medical Care Policy, Social Policy, and Environmental Policy. This Institute serves as the basis for Hopkins' appointment as a European Union Center of Excellence, a group of 10 Centers that excel in teaching and research on the European Union and its member States.