“Araw ka ba?” “Bakit?” “Kasi binigyang liwanag mo ang buhay ko.” (“Are you a sun?” “Why?” “Because you brighten my life.”)

Pick-up lines, like the above example, are usually done to make your love ones blush or smile, but who would have thought that they can be used to learn Microbiology?

“Learning microbiology need not be boring,” stated Thomas Edison dela Cruz, author of the study “Pick-up Lines: A Fun Way to Facilitate Learning Microbiological Concepts.”

In an activity wherein 37 sophomore students were tasked to make pick-up lines out of Microbiology concepts and ideas, it was found out that students can learn and understand the subject better through activities that they can easily relate to.

Examples of the lines they formed were:

Are you a flagellum? Why do you ask? Because I can’t move without you. (Flagellum is a thread-like structure which enables microorganisms to move or swim.)

If you will be a cell, I hope to be your cell wall and provide you with structural support. (Cell wall protects the cell.)

My love for you is like that of Deinococcusradiodurans. It can withstand even the harshest of situations. (Deinococcus radiodurans is an organism under Deinococcus-Thermus group which can tolerate high radiation dose because of the overall structure of their cell.)

The author also stated that the study showed that incorporating popular culture in teaching is one way of motivating students to learn difficult concepts in fun and creative way.

Full text of the study can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4278504/. ■

MEMORANDUM

For: ALL RESEARCH ETHICS REVIEW COMMITTEES IN THE PHILIPPINES

From: LEONARDO D. DE CASTRO, PhD

Chair, PHREB

Date: 27 February 2015

Subject: Registration and Accreditation of all Ethics Review Committees in the Philppines

See image below:

 Memo  All RERCs final

Dr. Frank Petersen, Head of Natural Products Unit of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Switzerland, urged the Philippines to invest on new technologies for DNA synthesis to explore new opportunities for the country’s biotechnology research.

In a dialogue with Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD), and representatives of the Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITHAC) on 24 October 2014, Dr. Petersen discussed the importance of enabling the scientists at the Philippine Genome Center to conduct DNA synthesis.

The dialogue was conducted a day after Dr. Petersen visited the Philippine Genome Center and other laboratories of the UPD and UPM.

Dr. Petersen observed that the Philippine Genome Center’s laboratory equipment are up to date. However, as the country’s research arm in genomics science, machines for DNA synthesis are a necessary investment to help the Center follow the current and lead the future trends in biotechnology.

DNA synthesis is a method used to create DNA in the laboratory, which is commonly practiced in new and more advanced biotechnology science such as synthetic biology.

Dr. Petersen expressed his optimism that with the right technology, the Philippines can steer the direction of country’s biotechnology research. 

Two Filipino scientists were chosen for Novartis mentorship in Basel, Switzerland.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), announced Dr. Leslie Michelle Dalmacio and Dr. Hiyas Junio of the University of the Philippines Manila and Diliman as the first Philippine delegates to the Novartis Next Generation Scientists last October 24, 2014.

The Novartis Next Generation Scientist Program aims to support talented post-graduate students from different countries through 3 month-long internships at the Novartis research facility in Basel, Switzerland. The Philippines is the first country in Asia to join in the initiative.

Dr. Nikolaos Tripodis, President and Managing Director of the Novartis Philippines, shared that the program is a testament to the commitment of company to afford their patients “good quality of life” through research.

Allocating as much as $9 billion a year, Novartis is one of the top funders of research and development in the world.

“Of course, to be able to use these billions of dollars, we need to have access to the best minds, not just within the company, but across the globe,” Dr. Tripodis said.

The two chosen delegates, bested the nominees from the  top  Philippine universities including UP Dilima, Manila, and Los Baños, University of Santo Tomas (UST), De La Salle University (DLSU) and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).

Dr. Tripodis explained that the internship program would be an excellent training ground for the two scientists to share and learn ideas from fellow scientist.

“Being a company that prides itself into attracting, retaining, and developing talent, we want to make sure that we provide the right platform to our associates to train and develop and, hopefully, one day, some of them can make their dreams come true,” he said.

Scientist can be pushed to collaborate through strategically designed working areas in the laboratories, said Novartis head scientist.

“Think about reengineering the laboratory,” Dr. Frank Petersen, Head of Natural Products Unit of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Switzerland, advised during his dialogue with government and academic representatives on October 24, 2014.

The dialogue was conducted a day after Dr. Petersen visited some of the major laboratories at the University of the Philippines (UP) System.

Dr. Petersen said different teams of scientists rarely work together because the design of Philippine laboratories hinder them to work collaboratively. As a result, funds are not efficiently used because the scientists engage in the same research activities and invest on the same equipment.

Highlighting the importance of laboratories to foster communication and collaboration, Dr. Petersen shared that reduced working areas and unhindered office spaces have become the norm in Novartis laboratories worldwide.

He recommended the same practices to be adopted in the Philippines to allow Filipino scientists to discuss their projects, giving rise to new and innovative ideas. Smaller working areas also prevent redundancy of work since everyone will know what each one is doing. Sharing the same workplace lets scientist share the equipment, preventing multiple purchases. He added that it will allow the Philippine government save a lot in the maintenance of smaller facilities.

By implementing these advice, Dr. Petersen guaranteed that Philippines can optimize its research capacity. “After all, innovation is not feasible anymore when you sit alone in the office,” he said.