Academe seeks government, industries’ support for natural products R&D

Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, Professor at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) discussed status of natural products R&D in the academe during the second round table discussion on Philippine Herbal Industry Standards and Regulatory Settings.

“Research on herbal medicine is not performed across the country. Mostly researches are concentrated in NCR,” reported Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, Professor at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) during the second roundtable discussion on Philippine Herbal Industry-Standards and Regulatory Settings last March 19, 2012 at the Traders Hotel, Pasay City.

According to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), only 57 private universities and 38 state universities and colleges (SUCs) nationwide are shortlisted as Centers of Excellence (COEs) and Centers of Development (CODs)due to their demonstrated level of high standard along the areas of instruction,

research and extension. However, Dr. Nonato reported, “Only 23.7 percent of the universities across the country conduct research on natural products. This low figure may be due to insufficient funding support, challenge in isolation and identification of compounds, and lengthy time duration in conducting research.”

Dr. Nonato admitted that knowledge generated from research often ends up in library spaces because the academic sector does not know how to market their discoveries. The academe’s ignorance in marketing their generated knowledge impedes the progress of the herbal products industry. “Most universities do not have intention to go out and market what they discovered in research. The lack of knowledge on how to market and talk to the industry sector is the reservation of those in the academe,” said Dr. Nonato. She added, “Not all universities are prepared to market their discoveries because there’s no intellectual property (IP) protection within the university system.”

Dr. Nonato assured that the academic sector can execute the R&D work. However, she said that standardization and regulation of policies are needed for the conduct of herbal research in the academe, capacity building of all academic sectors nationwide, IP protection and government and private sector support.

“Academic institutions have the knowledge, expertise and people for the conduct of R&D. The government has the funding while the natural products industry sector has the know-how in marketing. If we work together, we can move our herbal industry forward,” concluded Dr. Nonato.