The University of the Philippines Mindanao (UPMin), in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), UK, has successfully completed the One Health Omics Project, a week-long free online bioinformatics workshop from October 11-16, 2021.

Out of 124 applicants, only 40 were shortlisted to participate in the workshop composed of faculty members, clinicians, and researchers from different regions in Mindanao.

In the opening ceremony, Dr. Aleyla De Cadiz, project leader of One Health Omics said that the workshop serves to capacitate Filipino researchers in Mindanao on omics technology in the surveillance, management, and control of infections in a One Health setting. “We want to expose Mindanaoan researchers to bioinformatics tools and techniques which can be helpful in their research focus and future research endeavors in the region,” she added.

The bioinformatics workshop was facilitated by Dr. Jody Phelan, Julian Libiseller-Egger, Daniel Ward, Anton Spadar, and Paula Josefina Gómez González, bioinformatics experts from LSHTM, all members of Professor Taane Clark’s team.

Professor of Genomics and Global Health in LSHTM and the lead United Kingdom (UK) coordinator, Prof. Taane Clark said that the skills learnt during the workshop will allow the participants to apply big data methods to genomics questions and investigations. "Bioinformatics and genomics techniques, as well as conducting related molecular investigations, are important skills for the participants to become genomics and genomic epidemiological experts, and will contribute to improving the health of the Philippines population. Some of the trainees in our previous workshops are now trainers in bioinformatics, and it is very exciting and personally rewarding to be part of capacity building and strengthening in genomics, and contribute to ongoing Philippines-UK biomedical collaborations", he said.

Bioinformatics is a combination of biology and information technology that allows researchers to further examine and understand the characteristics of an organism or a microbe through its genome, such as a virus like the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the COVID-19 disease, using a computer.

Today, bioinformatics algorithms made it possible to quickly assemble the genome sequence of the coronavirus which helped scientists to quickly develop diagnostic test kits and give an immediate head start in vaccine development.

The One Health Omics Project was funded by DOST-Newton Agham Researcher Links Workshop grant from the British Council in partnership with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD). The workshop is also co-sponsored by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Mindanao.

The LSHTM will be having its second run of Online Bioinformatics Workshop on November 22-25, 2021 which will focus on Infectious Diseases. This will be participated by 30 participants from the Philippines and 30 participants from the UK.#

Written by:

JANESSA V.VILLOTA

Information Officer I

Philippine Genome Center Mindanao 

Research adviser from the Philippine Science High School Southern Mindanao Campus (PSHS SMC), Mr. Michael A. Casas won 2nd Place in the nationwide 3-Minute Pitch to Policymakers Competition conducted by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) on August 10, 2021.

Nine representatives from different regional health and development consortia of the Philippines participated in the event via Zoom and Facebook Live, which is line with the virtual celebration of the 14th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week last August 9-13, 2021.

The competition aims to develop and cultivate the researchers’ presentation and communication skills in pitching their completed health research studies and share their findings to the stakeholders and policy makers. The participants will present their completed research in a three-minute, one-slide presentation for a non-specialist audience based on set criteria.

Prof. Casas presented his policy proposition entitled “Positioning the Philippines as the Traditional Medicines Hub of the World with Chromatography” after the completion of his DOST-PCHRD funded research entitled “Chromatographic Approaches in the Analysis of Blumea balsamifera (Sambong) and Vitex negundo (Lagundi). In his policy pitch, Mr. Casas said that his research can be a basis for the need to upgrade the Philippine Pharmacopeia, the official book of the standards and references for the determination of the identity, purity, and quality of pharmaceutical products and crude plant drugs in the Philippines, to include advanced techniques in the standardization and analysis of herbal plants and medicines.

Mr. Casas will be receiving Php 20,000.00 cash from DOST-PCHRD after placing second on the competition. Dr. Glory V. Baltazar from Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center bagged 1st prize, while Ms. Dessa Jean O. Casalme from De la Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute landed on the third spot.

Mr. Casas, a recipient of the BPI-DOST Science Award in 2010 and 2nd-runner-up for the Best Project of the Year competition, currently teaches research, coaches award winning students in international research competitions, and serves as the coordinator of the Innovation and Technology Support Office and Chief of the Student Services Division of PSHS SMC.

Additionally, two members of the Regional Health Research and Development Consortium XI (RHRDC XI) also participated in the Research Poster Contest, one of the activities during the PNHRS week celebration. Dr. Elsa Baron from San Pedro College and Ms. Nicci Orcena from Tagum Doctors College Inc. pre-qualified in the Poster Competition for Professional and Student categories, subsequently.

from DOST XI S&T Information and Promotion

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