The fifth batch of MD-PhD in Molecular Medicine Program scholars signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), at the Alvior Hall of the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) last September 5, 2014.

The MD-PhD in Molecular Medicine Scholarship Program is a joint initiative of UPM and the DOST that aims to train aspiring physician-scientists for careers in basic and applied biomedical research towards the advancement of health from individual to global levels. It is the first and pioneering degree program in the Philippines that combines the MD and PhD courses in one.

Known for its very steep admission requirements, only applicants who have finished their undergraduate degrees with honors (Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude) and have achieved National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) rating of 95 and higher are conferred with the scholarship.

This year, nine new scholars qualified into the program, two of whom garnered an NMAT rating of 100.


Visit the website at

To protect indigenous peoples’ claim to their cultural heritage, the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) developed the Philippine Traditional Knowledge Digital Library on Health (TKDL-Health), a digital library of the country’s traditional knowledge and practices on health, healing and diseases.


In an email interview, Dr. Isidro C. Sia, a faculty of the University of the Philippines Manila –the Philippine TKDL-Health program, discussed that the TKDL-Health website helps prevent private entities from laying exclusive claim to the therapeutic practices or medicinal products of indigenous groups by creating proof of ownership for the traditional knowledge.


Dr. Sia cited India’s successful use of their own TKDL website to revoke a US patent on turmeric as an example on how TKDL can be used as evidence for the ownership of the traditional knowledge.


The TKDL-Health ( is a database of information on traditional knowledge on health, illness, and healing gathered from the documentary studies done among indigenous peoples and other cultural communities. To date, there is information on 13,900 medicinal plants.


Through the program, researchers and community members can work together as partners to catalogue the folk traditions in health, and in the process, advocate for the protection of the cultural legacy of the Filipinos.


TKDL-Health is a project supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), and the Institute of Herbal Medicine (IHM) of the UPM – National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH).

With the vision of advancing together as one community, delegates from the ASEAN member states convened on June 26 – 27, 2014 for the 1st  ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicine Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) Community of Practice on Traditional Medicine Meeting at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, Philippines.

Presenting the ASEAN-NDI initiatives, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, the ASEAN-NDI Secretariat Coordinator, emphasized the need to develop collaborative innovations on traditional medicine in addressing the escalating cost and poor access to modern medicine, which were prevalent in some ASEAN countries.

"There is also a constraint on the lack of research on varieties of traditional medicine [though] the government gives a lot of support for traditional medicine," added by Dr. Habibah A. Wahab, the Director General of Malaysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals.

Supporting collaborative initiatives on traditional medicine, ASEAN-NDI representatives affirmed their interests on potential areas for collaborations, particularly on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), capacity-building for researchers and students, harmonization of policies and regulations, and research and development (R&D) projects.

Nine (9) delegates from the ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines,  Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and some participants from the Department of Health, and Department of Science and Technology graced this remarkable meeting. 


The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and Department of Health (DOH) will hold an eHealth Forum on 26 July 2014 at the SMXConvention Center, PasayCity during the 2014 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW).

With its theme, “The Health Information Exchange, Connecting People and Information for Better Health Care,” the forum tackles the local and global perspectives on health information exchange, and recognizes eHealth initiatives to track the country’s target on maternal and child health with reference to the Millennium Development Goals as well as improvement in community access to PhilHealth benefits.

The Philippine Health Information Exchange (PHIE) is an enabling system that links health-related information, databases and registries with all health services, users, and providers.  PHIE provides access to health information by health practitioners and policymakers in making informed decisions.

The forum also features the first Digital Poster Exhibit on eHealth researches and initiatives in the Philippines.

Secretary Mario G. Montejo (DOST), Secretary Enrique T. Ona (DOH), and Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa (DOH) together with 500 participants from different sectors are expected to grace the forum. For more details, please contact Ms. Michelle Estrera at (02) 837-7534.

Representing the Philippines, Dr. Isidro C. Sia, the Director of Institute of Herbal Medicine, identified some of the country’s challenges on traditional medicine such as the continuing loss of knowledge on traditional medicine, the need to strengthen its research agenda, and limitation of its funding, during the 1st ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicine Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) Community of Practice on Traditional Medicine Meeting 2014 in Manila.

Among these challenges was the continuing loss of knowledge on traditional medicine as more mainstream people culturally encroached on communities of indigenous people, according to Dr. Sia.

The need to strengthen the research agenda and the limitation of funding for traditional medicine were also being faced by researchers and institutions in this particular field of interest.

Yet, current government efforts such as the enactment of the Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013 (An Act institutionalizing the Philippine National Health Research System) and funding from public offices seek to address these limitations.

ASEAN-NDI [also] provides the platform to develop collaborative programs and projects to advance Traditional Medicine in the region,” as assured by Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, ASEAN-NDI Secretariat Coordinator and the Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.