3rd Annual Balik Scientist Program Convention features S&T breakthroughs, institutional partnerships, approval of BSP Bill

"The 3rd Annual Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Convention could very well be a triple celebration," said Sec. Fortunato dela Peña.

With the theme “Balik Scientists: Partners in Harnessing Science for the People,” the event, held on 1 December 2017 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza, served as a venue to celebrate three important milestones for the program.

First, six Balik Scientists presented results of their research in the fields of health, industry, energy and emerging technology, and agriculture, aquaculture, and natural resources.

In the field of health, Dr. Annabelle P. Villalobos of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D and Dr. Georgina “Ginny” E. Cruz of Monell Chemical Senses Center, presented results of their pharmacological studies.

Dr. Villalobos in her presentation entitled, “Case Study: Post Approval Change in Drug Formulation, Immunogenicity and Safety,” explained the biotech drug development process from laboratory to market, particularly the formulation changes required by regulatory agencies on EPREX, a drug used to treat anemia.

Dr. Cruz’s study entitled, “A Cross-cutting Transfer of Knowledge from Chemosensory Neuroscience to Drug Interaction Pharmacology,” revealed the relationship between neuroscience and pharmacology, explaining how improvement in odors and mixtures of drugs can cause changes in an individual’s sensory perceptions resulting to positive reactions in drug intakes.

Another highlight was the recognition given to BSP partner institutions such as De La Salle Health Sciences Institute, Holy Angel University, and Bohol Island University for their noteworthy assistance as hosts to the Balik Scientists. To show their appreciation to the Balik Scientists, testimonials were given on how their hosted scientists contributed to the improvement of their institutions.

Lastly, the approval of the Balik Scientist Bill was highlighted in the celebration.  Under the soon-to-be law, returning scientists will be able to enjoy tax exemptions, free medical and accident insurance, relocation benefits and allowances, and other subsidies.

As Hon. Divina Grace C. Yu, Zamboanga del Sur 1st District representative and principal author of the counterpart Balik Scientist Act, puts it, “…[With] the Balik Scientist Bill… coming [back] is not only a choice [for researchers], but also an opportunity to serve the country.”

For more information about the BSP and application process, you may visit the BSP website.