Dr. Rody Sy presents the findings of his research entitled, “Genomic Research on Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, and Dyslipidemia towards the Development of Individualized Diagnostic and Therapeutic Strategies” at the Health Forum 2017 during the 13th National Biotechnology Week celebration.

With cardiovascular disease (CVDs) still the leading cause of death in Filipinos, this year’s health forum focused on genomic studies on CVDs. Organized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) agencies, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the forum showcased the progress on researches that explain how the structure, mapping, function, and evolution of a genes could lead to discoveries in treatment and management of CVDs.

Cardiovascular Diseases, also known as Lifestyle Related Noncommunicable Diseases, are illnesses that affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the Department of Health, CVDs such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases are the cause of more than half of all the deaths every year.

Researchers found an important connection between the interaction of genetic and environmental factors in finding treatment for diseases, thus, genomic studies became a popular field of study.  As explained by researchers, genomic tests, which will analyze the sets of DNA within a single cell, would help discover changes in structure, function, and mapping of the genes and help discover improvements in administering drugs for CVD patients.

To present the progress of their respective genomic research on CVDs, three speakers were invited namely: Dr. Rody Sy, Program Leader of the Cardiovascular Genetics Project of the Philippine Genome Center, Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz, Project Leader and Vice Chancellor for Research of University of the Philippines Manila, and Ms. Frances Isabelle Jacalan, Science Research Specialist I, Nutrigenomics Unit of FNRI.

Dr. Sy discussed the importance of putting cardiovascular genetics research into clinical practice.  He explained how certain mutations in the chromosome could affect drug effectiveness and how genetic information could be used to guide drug treatments for CVDs.

Dr. Cutiongco-dela Paz, on the other hand, discussed the interplay of genomic association on treatment, diagnosis, and risk assessment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Highlight of her presentation are the identified biomarkers that would be helpful in creating effective treatment program for patients.

Differences in food preferences and nutrient intake of hypertensive and nonhypertensive adults was the focus of Ms. Jacalan’s presentation.  She explained that there are genomic indicators that affect taste receptors which influence the diet of an individual The result of the study revealed that hypertensive patients had preferences for sweet and salty rather than bitter or sour foods.

The health forum is part of the DOST-PCHRD and FNRI’s annual National Biotechnology Week celebration. This year’s forum, held on 21 November 2017 at the Brentwood Suites, Quezon City, was attended by health sciences students from the University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippine Women’s University, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, Far Eastern University Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation, and Pampanga State Agricultural University.

With the goal of introducing the country’s national health research repository, HERDIN or Health Research and Development Information Network database, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) visited various universities and institutions in Bacolod City from November 21-24, 2017. Highlight of the visits was the discussion on how the institution’s respective libraries can be linked to HERDIN and the announcements of the scheduled HERDIN training in the region on 9-11 January 2018.

Among the universities and institutions visited were as follows: Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, University of St. La Salle, Riverside College, Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, and Riverside Medical Center.

"HERDIN on tour" is an information caravan program by HERDIN that aims to introduce the service to various universities and institutions. For more information about the program, please visit the HERDIN website or follow the DOST-PCHRD on Facebook for upcoming HERDIN on tour schedules.

Health research and public health ethics representatives from institutions from ten Southeast Asian nations met to discuss and propose an agreement for better cooperation on health research and ethics at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City last 10-11 October.

Representatives of health research institutions and ethics committees from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in Makati City to draft an agreement on an ASEAN Network on Health Research and Public Health Ethics.

The ASEAN representatives were participants of the two-day seminar workshop on “Building Capacities in Research and Public Health Ethics in the ASEAN” held at the Dusit Thani Hotel on 10-11 October 2017.

The meeting aimed to raise awareness among participants on regional concerns on research and ethics, while also strengthening regional cooperation by forming an ASEAN network for health research and public health ethics.

Highlights of the discussions on regional concerns included Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Institute of Biotechnology’s DNA Identification Center Deputy Director , Dr. Thi Thanh Huyen Tran’s, presentation on the burden of illness and access to healthcare in Vietnam.

Dr. Abu Bakar Abdul Majeed, Rector of Universiti Teknologi MARA Selangor discussed the use of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) in Malaysia, focusing on the regulation of TCMs through the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act of 2013.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s representative, Dr. Sengchanh Kounnavong, Head of the Health Research Division of the National Institute of Public Health spoke on the ethical issues on public health surveillance.

Dr. Voo Teck Chuan, Assistant Professor from the Centre of Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine of the National University of Singapore discussed the ethical issues in health systems research.

The other remaining representatives, Dr. Bunsoth Mao, Vice Dean for the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Puthisastra, Cambodia; Dr. Leonardo de Castro, Chair of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB); Dr. Chit Su Tinn, Researcher at the  Defense Services Medical Research Center, Myanmar; Dr. Mas Rina Wati Haji Abdul Hamid, Senior Lecturer of PAPRSB Institute of Health Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam; and Bugi Ratno Budiarto from the  Research Center for Biotechnology, Indonesian  Institute of Science and Technology presented reports on the current state of health research and public health ethics in their respective countries.

Dr. Custer Deocaris, Research Management Division Chief of the Commission on Higher Education facilitated a “world café”, which is a structured conversation where participants periodically switched tables to answer questions like needs, resources, objectives, activities, and mechanisms on creating the ASEAN network on ethics.

On the second day of the meeting, Dr. Beverly Ho, the Department of Health’s representative for PHREB, presented the draft agreement on how to establish the ASEAN network for health research and public ethics. The participants gave their comments and revised the agreement which they were to bring home to their respective countries for presentation and approval of their respective ASEAN Subcomittee on Biotechnology focal points and head of their institution.

The country’s national health research repository, HERDIN or Health Research and Development Information Network database, was presented during the 2017 Philippine Librarians Association Inc. National Congress held on 21-24 November 2017 at the SMX Convention Center Bacolod, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.

In the parallel session entitled, “Accessibility of Health Information through Health Research,” Ms. Kristine Dominique Zamora, Science Research Specialist I of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), described the features of HERDIN and explained how students, researchers, and the public can access more than 4,000 full-text articles on health research and 50,000 citations and bibliographic health research information.

Ms. Zamora also emphasized HERDIN activities such as trainings, tours, and workshops, which aims to encourage and capacitate institutions to contribute their institution’s health research outputs in the HERDIN.

For more information about HERDIN, please visit http://www.herdin.ph/

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA - Five new MS Molecular Medicine Program scholars signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) on 29 September 2017 at St. Luke’s Medical College of Medicine (SLCM), Quezon City.

Among the new scholars are Anna Krizzia Cruz, Clarissa Joy Garcia, Raphaella Lao, Katherine Pearl Sarabia, and Aren Maridin Busog, all from St. Luke’s Medical College of Medicine.

MS Molecular Medicine Program is a joint initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through PCHRD, and SLCM which aims to produce proficient laboratory researchers capable of pioneering innovative health researches as basis for future health policies.

In her message, Dr. Susan Pelea Nagtalon, SLCM President and Dean, expressed her support to the scholars and reminded them to become committed throughout the whole course in order to achieve their dreams for themselves and for the country.

“We realize that it is not an easy course but with the dedication and with the motivation of these students [scholars], they can actually make it and be a leader in their chosen field of specialty,” Dr. Nagtalon emphasized.

The program aims to provide the scholars a firm foundation on biomedical sciences and relevant emerging technologies to develop highly trained manpower base for Molecular Medicine in the country.

“We are here to support you [scholars] for whatever way we can. We are looking forward to improving research in our country and you are welcome to be part of the institution,” Dr. Mark Pierre Dimamay, SLMC MS Molecular Medicine Program Director, added.

Started in 2008, 12 MS Molecular Medicine scholars have graduated under the program.

Article by: Lemuel Basierto