The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in collaboration with the United States Government (US) and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced Dr. Maria Ruth Pineda-Cortel of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) as the country’s finalist for the annual Science Prize for Women last April 27.
Dr. Pineda-Cortel, a Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) scholar, was chosen as finalist for her project on gestational diabetes.
Conducted with support from DOST-PCHRD together with nine graduate students from UST, Dr. Pineda-Cortel’s project entitled, “Blood and placental gene expression in gestational diabetes mellitus: potential identification of early biomarkers” aims to identify biomarkers that can be predictive of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or glucose intolerance during pregnancy.
“I am hopeful for a healthcare system that prioritizes preventive healthcare for pregnant women,” Dr. Pineda-Cortel says. “Although GDM is a transient condition, it has long term effects on both the mother and the baby, such as the future development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and risk of obesity,” she added.
The disease can cause complications during pregnancy that may lead to premature birth, high blood pressure, low blood sugar, diabetes, or in worst-case scenarios, stillbirth. Studying potential biomarkers of GDM will help identify those who are at risk earlier, and in turn contribute to the development of strategies that may improve health and maternal pregnancy. The project was participated by pregnant women in different tertiary hospitals and private clinics in Metro Manila.
“Dr. Pineda-Cortel's project is an example of how we utilize OMIC technologies for health to advance health research for the development of targeted diagnostics which may contribute to better healthcare solutions in the country, particularly in improving Filipino maternal health,” DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya says.
Along with other national finalists from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Dr. Pineda-Cortel’s project on GDM will be evaluated for the selection of two regional finalists for the pitch competition in Lao PDR in June 2020.
The annual ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women seeks to recognize exceptional women who are engaged in research or are promoting activities related to preventive healthcare in the region and who are role models for other women working in and pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Dr. Montoya educates us on how the country is leveraging its experience in supporting health researchers and developing technologies to rapidly but carefully develop a treatment and vaccine for COVID-19.
The world has spent most of 2020’s first half in quarantine, countries still struggling to find the best solutions, rolling out plans after plans to get through the pandemic and eventually flatten the coronavirus curve.
While the infection continues to claim lives every day, scientists are racing to find the sure exit path towards the end of the tunnel: a vaccine.
But on average, it takes more than a decade to develop a full-fledged vaccine. That of Ebola vaccine was record-breaking, which still took scientists five years to create one. This is because vaccine development is a lengthy and rigorous process, which involves a series of pre-clinical and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy prior to public use.
On top of that, it requires multiple expertise from specialized institutions, not to mention a massive investment which is estimated to reach $1 Billion for just one candidate.
During this crisis where every second is vital, people are always looking for updates on vaccine development efforts. We’ll let you in on some of the highlights of our talks with Dr. Jaime Montoya:
When asked about where the Philippines is at on COVID vaccine development efforts, here’s what Dr. Montoya has to say:
“As the lead coordinating body for health research in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) is leveraging its experience in supporting health researchers and developing technologies to rapidly but carefully develop a treatment and vaccine for COVID-19.
Considering the available resources in the Philippines, and the required expertise and facilities needed for vaccine development, the Council builds on collaboration opportunities with international partners by participating in the clinical trials of the most advanced candidates.
This is a strategy that puts the country in advantage, as it will ensure that the successful vaccine becomes readily available in the Philippines. Right now, we are in discussion with international partners for their vaccine development initiatives, and DOST is making significant investments in support of this international collaboration.”
So, then we asked, can you tell us more about the specific partnerships we have?
“We are in contact with the British Embassy for the possibility of a Filipino and British scientists collaboration on vaccine-related research. The PCHRD has identified the study conducted by Professor Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford to be of high potential and advantageous to the Philippine situation considering they are already near to implementing a clinical trial. The prospective Filipino partners are already identified for this collaboration.
Scientific discussions have already commenced between Filipino scientists and scientists from China. SinoPharma and Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, have vaccine candidates already in the advanced phases. We plan to be involved in the clinical trial for these vaccines to ensure its availability in our country once the vaccine has satisfied all the requirements of the Chinese and Philippine FDA. But these are just some of the potential international research collaborations that we may have in vaccine development.”
With all these in mind, what should be our biggest takeaway from all our efforts?
“It is interesting to note that on top of all of these vaccine efforts, we still have a lot of ongoing local initiatives to fight the pandemic. We also have local strategies on repurposing existing drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Let’s also not forget that our researchers have recently developed a rapid diagnostic kit for COVID-19.
We have provided our policymakers and LGUs expert information on COVID-19 forecasts through FASSSTER. Also, our investments on PPE development and telehealth devices have also contributed to ensuring the safety of our health workers and patients.
And while we are in the middle of fighting a pandemic, our Filipino researchers, with all the support from our science and technology department, are exhausting all means to still come out with products and technologies that may be useful in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our exploratory talks with different countries and scientists, we have formed a panel of leading experts on vaccine research and development. This panel is headed by Dr. Nina Gloriani, a highly experienced vaccine researcher and Professor Emeritus from the University of the Philippine College of Public Health. She is also accompanied by Dr. Mario Jiz from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, immunobiologist and scientist with extensive experience in the development of a vaccine for Schistosomiasis which is an endemic disease in the Philippines, and Dr. Isagani Padolina, scientist and head of the research division of Pascual Laboratories. The panel members also include eminent clinicians Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at San Lazaro Hospital, and Dr. Ma. Liza Antoinette Gonzales, Associate Dean at UP College of Medicine.”
Nearing the second half of 2020, the world’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic still continues. With over 4 million cases, and nearly 300, 000 deaths worldwide, it is important for everyone to make “flattening the curve” happen: by staying at home, maintaining social distance, getting educated, and taking quite good care of ourselves.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) confers the Hall of Fame Award to Balik Scientist Dr. Rose Constantino for her continued commitment and invaluable contribution in the field of health care.
In their official press release, ANA President Ernest Grant emphasizes that the award is even more relevant and timely, as nurses also serve as frontliners who battle the current pandemic. “ANA is honored to celebrate the achievements of these nurses and champions, who are exemplary leaders and advocates, and whose contributions have advanced the field of nursing,” he says.
As an expert on psychiatry, mental health, and forensic nursing, Dr. Constantino is an Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh - School of Nursing and a Balik Scientist Program (BSP) Awardee under the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD). With the grant awarded by BSP, she pursues the project: “Assessing the HEARTS (Health Experience of Abuse, Resilience, Treatment, and Safety) of the Elderly in the Philippines”. Focused on assessing the health status and quality of life of the elderly, she initially partnered with the Centro Escolar University - Manila in 2017 for the implementation of HEARTS and moved to expand the program in partnership with the Cebu Normal University (CNU) in 2019.
Under the BSP, Dr. Constantino also works as a consultant for projects under HEARTS, acts as a mentor and evaluator of research projects on aging population, and gives lectures on (1) HEARTS in Application to Elderly; and (2) Forensic Nursing in Gerontology Issues.
“On behalf of DOST-PCHRD, we would like to congratulate Dr. Constantino in yet another feat she has achieved with the award from ANA. Her work as a Balik Scientist proves her commitment to advance the field of healthcare, and support our mission to make lives better for the Filipino,” says DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya.
The Balik Scientist Program is the brain-gain initiative of the DOST which encourages Filipino scientists based abroad to return to the Philippines with the goal of sharing their expertise to help advance science and technology in the country.
The Balik Scientist Act or RA 11035 was signed into law last June 2018.
Countries around the world are working non-stop to find a cure and come up with appropriate and effective interventions against the COVID-19 pandemic. In the frontline of all these work on COVID-19 is health research and health researchers --- understanding the virus, developing vaccines and possible treatments, and generating evidence to support policymaking.
In the Philippines, the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) is at the center of all COVID-19 efforts. The System, through its implementing institutions --- Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), has been working at all fronts providing the much needed R&D, human resources, and evidence-based support to the Philippine Government.
The PNHRS, to date, has already supported a number of R&D programs and put in place platforms to help curb COVID-19.
The DOH launched the COVID-19 Tracker in line with its commitment to promote transparency and accountability. The tracker features information on the epidemiology of COVID-19 in the country, COVID-19 testing, health facilities, and availability of personal protective equipment (PPEs). The public can view data on the laboratory testing capacities of the DOH-accredited laboratories including the total number of tests and unique individuals tested. Likewise, the public gets a snapshot of the health system's capacity in responding to the pandemic based on data collected from the DOH DataCollect application.
The DataCollect app gathers daily data from hospitals and stakeholders such as essential resources and supplies, availability of hospital beds, isolation rooms, ICU beds and mechanical ventilators, and human resource needs. The application can also accurately calculate the projected need of PPEs, and link to logistics offices for delivery of supplies.
SOLIDARITY Treatment Trial
To compare the effects of major COVID-19 treatment outcomes among hospitals globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) organized a solidarity treatment trial aimed at unifying efforts to assess any effects and provide reliable estimates of these treatments on COVID-19 cases. As one of the participating countries, the Philippines is conducting a study among 24 hospitals from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The study will test the safety and effectiveness of four repurposed drugs in treating COVID-19 compared to the standard of care being practiced in all participating hospitals.
The project is expected to provide evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the care of COVID-19 patients and, eventually, provide evidence-based medicine against the virus. Funded by the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the project has been approved for implementation last April 11, 2020 and has started enrolling patients.
Transmission patterns of COVID-19
To help policymakers create better and evidence-based strategies in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) led by Dr. Mayan U. Lumandas are investigating the coronavirus transmission patterns among confirmed cases and their contacts in the country.
The DOST-PCHRD-funded study will use RITM samples in its aim to supply the DOH useful data which can improve national efforts in case isolation, contact tracing, and disease control and prevention.
VCO as possible treatment for COVID-19
Another DOST-PCHRD-funded project entitled, “In-vitro Study on the Efficacy of Lauric Acid and its Derivatives against SARS-CoV-2,” aims to test whether certain coconut oil components, such as lauric acid, can diminish or prevent the infectivity of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The project is implemented by the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) led by Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit. Results will be used for further studies.
COVID-19 Test Kits
To equip the country with accessible and affordable COVID-19 testing, Dr. Raul V. Destura of the Manila HealthTek Inc., in collaboration with the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), UPM - National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH) and DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), led the development of the GenAmplifyTM Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) rRT-PCR Detection Kit.
The locally developed test kit can detect the 2019 novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 with high specificity and efficiency by utilizing a one stop-multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platform at a significantly cheaper price than its foreign counterparts. Currently, the team is working for the production and distribution of 26,000 tests to hospitals in and outside Metro Manila for field implementation.
Last April 20, 2020, the Manila HealthTek Lab Inc., already delivered the first batch of test kits to the UPM-NIH, making it the first health facility to officially use the Pinoy-made COVID-19 test kits.
COVID-19 Specimen Collection Booths
Recognizing the need to generate innovative ways to strengthen the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity, the DOST-PCHRD and DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) jointly supported the development and distribution of specimen collection booths (SCBs), designed and fabricated by the Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise, Inc. (FAME), to DOH-identified hospitals.
The development of the SCBs were inspired by the innovative phone booth-style COVID-19 testing stations from other Asian countries. Designed with a proper ventilation system and window-mounted nitrile gloves to receive patients, the booths serve as the protective barrier between the healthcare workers and the suspected COVID-19 patients to reduce the risk of infection during collection of swab samples.
Recently, the SCBs passed the initial performance assessment conducted in four hospitals, namely: the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Lung Center of the Philippines, and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital.
To date, 77 out of 132 SCBs have already been deployed to DOH-identified testing centers in NCR, CAR, Regions I, II, III, IV-A, and V. Deployment of remaining 55 SCBs is still ongoing for the regions in Visayas and Mindanao.
COVID-19 Testing at the Philippine Genome Center
The Philippine Genome Centers (PGCs) of the University of the Philippines also lead initiatives to capacitate the country for COVID-19 testing.
PGC Diliman, which contributed to the development of the GenAmplifyTM Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) rRT-PCR Detection Kit in collaboration with the Manila HealthTek Inc., UPM-NIH, and the DOST-PCHRD, also works with the DOH and the RITM in confirming COVID-19 cases in the country. Last April 30, PGC's core facility released a report which identifies six viral genome sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 from COVID-19 cases recorded in Metro Manila from March 22 to 28. Two of the identified genome sequences are clustered closely to cases recorded from Japan and Australia, while four are close to those from Shanghai, China. The data is shared with GISAID, the international database for data sharing and access by researchers on genetic sequence, clinical and epidemiological data on COVID-19 and other influenza viruses.
In PGC Mindanao, the opening of the second COVID-19 testing laboratory in Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) is targeted to open by June. The establishment of the laboratory aims to supplement the ongoing COVID-19 testing facilitated by the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) which is currently the only accredited subnational COVID-19 referral center in Mindanao. Once fully operational, the laboratory may also accept samples from other hospitals and facilitate 110 tests per day.
Meanwhile, PGC Visayas, in collaboration with the Department of Health-Region VI, UP alumni, and other University partners, lent their digital dry bath and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine to the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) to reinforce their COVID-19 testing capacity.
SUCs as Quarantine Centers
The CHED has issued guidelines to local government units (LGUs) that plan to use the facilities of state universities and colleges (SUCs) as COVID-19 quarantine centers.
The Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) earlier adopted a policy that all LGUs who plan to use the facilities of SUCs as quarantine centers must enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the CHED to ensure consistency and accountability in the operation of these facilities.
The CHED has organized a Public Health Experts Group led by UPM College of Public Health Dean Vicente Belizario, Jr. to provide technical assistance to both LGUs and SUCs in establishing and running quarantine centers.
Quarantine centers are areas where Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) can be accommodated for easier monitoring and provision of health care.
Under the guidelines, LGUs must identify SUCs in their areas that can be converted into a quarantine center/ community isolation unit (CIU). They need to ensure that the following requirements and services are met for setting up quarantine centers/CIUs in SUCs:
Spaces or venues equipped with utilities and basic amenities
Required LGU personnel (CIU manager, sanitation officer, physician via teleconsult, other healthcare workers and support staff)
Food, sanitation, infection control health monitoring and prompt referral systems
Provision of security, waste management and vector control, and psychosocial wellness and support for PUMs/PUIs.
Once compliant with the requirements, the SUC, LGU and CHED shall sign a MOA. SUCs may also augment the logistics and will regularly update the CHED Regional Offices (CHEDROs) regarding their status especially for breaches in protocols and other problems.
Ventilators and respirators are vital to save the lives of severely ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. As a response to the shortage of respiratory equipment, a compact, safe and effective ventilator called GINHAWA was developed and distributed by Filipino researchers led by Dr. Abundio Balgos of UP Manila. The locally-made ventilator costs 42% cheaper than similar portable ventilators intended for use in ICUs, emergency rooms and ambulances and can be used for both children and adults. The project started in 2012, in collaboration with biomedical engineers from De La Salle University and then proceeded with the redesign phase in 2019 with the help of technical consultant Mr. Glenn Tuazon.
To help in the country's battle against COVID-19 , the Department of Science and Technology Regional Office IV-A (DOST IV-A) and the DOST-PCHRD deployed 106 units of RxBox to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) which is one of the designated COVID-19 referral centers in Luzon.
Developed by Filipino researchers from UP Manila and UP Diliman, with support from DOST-PCHRD, RxBox is a biomedical device capable of measuring a patient’s temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, uterine contractions, and electrocardiogram readings. The RxBox units were manufactured in partnership with IONICS EMS Inc., a local manufacturing company based in Laguna.
Specific to the country’s COVID-19 response, RxBox will be used for bedside monitoring of vital signs, oxygen saturation, and electrocardiogram readings of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, especially those in severe or critical conditions who need continuous monitoring. The use of the RxBox device can reduce contact between patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and healthcare workers, as it provides an efficient way for healthcare workers to monitor multiple patients at once.
DOST IV-A, the implementing agency of the ongoing RxBox 1,000 Roll-out Project, will coordinate with DOST regional offices for identification of other COVID-19 referral centers where the remaining units of RxBox may be distributed.
FASSSTER and TanodCOVID
As the official operational model of the IATF, the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler or FASSSTER is a technology that provides expert and evidence-based forecasts to policymakers on possible COVID-19 cases and scenarios in the country. Data generated from this technology allows policymakers to understand the pandemic at the national, regional, and local levels, assess the effects of the preventive measures in place, and use best practices in specific communities.
FASSSTER dashboard generates disease models that enable users to project the effect of interventions such as community quarantine, social distancing, and optimal testing on the total number of confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries over time. Another feature of FASSSTER is TanodCOVID, a self-reporting application which enables constituents to report COVID-19 related symptoms to their local health authorities. The data will then feed into the FASSSTER LGU dashboard which serves as a tracker for confirmed cases upon validation of Provincial/ City/Municipality Epidemiology Surveillance Units.
FASSSTER was developed by the Ateneo Center for Computing Competency and Research (ACCCRe) of Ateneo de Manila University in collaboration with the UP Manila - National Telehealth Center (UP-NTHC) and the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau and funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research (DOST-PCHRD).
DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientists and Scholars as COVID-19 Frontliners
As experts in the field of healthcare, DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientists also serve as frontliners against COVID-19:
Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña is a member of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) which advises the Department of Health (DoH) and the IATF
Dr. Joseph Adrian Buensalido is an Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine Consultant serving at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center, Makati America Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, and University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH)
Dr. Jonel Saludes and Dr. Doralyn Dalisay assist in assessing the capacities of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) and its technicians for accreditation as a COVID-19 testing facility
Dr. Raymond Sarmiento collaborates with the FASSSTER team for COVID-19 surveillance
Dr. Reynaldo Garcia leads the national databasing of laboratoriew with PCR
Dr. Harvy Joy Liwanag generates projections related to the country’s health capacity needed to address COVID-19.
Aside from Balik Scientists, MD-PhD Scholars of DOST-PCHRD also volunteered in the fight against COVID-19. Twelve scholars have signified willingness to work as onsite mentors to laboratory personnel in COVID-19 testing centers while 33 other scholars volunteered for offsite work with DOST-PCHRD in monitoring and coordination of several COVID-19-related projects.
In April 2020, the DOST-PCHRD launched the COVID-19 CORe (Communication, Ongoing projects, Research) Portal in April to provide the public a gateway to available evidence-based information on COVID-19, including the latest updates on coronavirus research, news, library resources, and other related information in one site.
DOST-PCHRD expects to add resources to the portal as more information becomes available to the public. The portal can be easily accessed at http://covid19.healthresearch.ph/.
Virtual Presser: Working FASSSTER than COVID-19
To communicate the latest information on FASSSTER and COVID-19, DOST-PCHRD, in partnership with ACCCRe and UP-NTHC, held online interactive virtual pressers entitled, “Working FASSSTER than COVID-19” every Tuesdays and Thursdays from April 21 to May 5. The pressers allowed FASSSTER developers to discuss the features of the technology in connection to the pandemic and at the same time engage with the media and the public on COVID-19-related concerns.
Replays of the pressers are available for viewing at DOST-PCHRD’s Facebook page. New episodes will be available after the conduct of FASSSTER training for various LGUs.
e-Turo Webinar Series
With support from DOST-PCHRD, the Ateneo de Manila University - Institute of Philippine Culture (ADMU-IPC) organized “Sustaining the Conversation on COVID-19: How Do We Cope? The eTURO Webinar Series on Engaging Communities and Networks (WE CaN!!)” to facilitate evidence-based discussions on COVID-19 between experts and the public.
The webinar series highlight the effects of local, national and regional initiatives to the coping mechanisms of individuals, communities and networks against the pandemic, in line with the following themes: 1) Social and Cultural Dimensions of Disease Control Measures, 2) Implications of the Pandemic and the Disease Control Measures to the Health System and Society, 3) Changing Health Belief Models and Behaviours, 4) Vulnerabilities, Preparedness and Resilience.
When the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hit the Philippines early this year, the Ateneo Center for Computing Competency and Research (ACCCRe) of Ateneo de Manila University in collaboration with the University of the Philippines Manila - National Telehealth Center (UP-NTHC), the Department of Health-Epidemiology Bureau and the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) recalibrated the Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-temporal Epidemiological Modeler or FASSSTER to enable forecasting of estimate number of COVID-19 cases in specific areas for specific period of time, in line with the area’s health capacity. With the recalibration, FASSSTER was able to provide an evidence-based tool to the DoH, local government units (LGUs) and other healthcare facilities to mitigate potential risks brought by COVID-19 and maximize the allocation of healthcare resources.
DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya assures the reliability of the predictions from this tool. He said, “FASSSTER was never made overnight. Developed since 2016, this tool is a product of rigorous studies and composed of credible and updated data.. Long before COVID19, this tool was already used in the surveillance of Dengue, Measles, and Typhoid.”
Initially used for Dengue, Typhoid Fever and Measles, FASSSTER is utilized for visualizing disease models and generating syndromic surveillance reports during public health crises. From 2016 to 2019, the application was deployed for use in 17 Rural Health Units (RHUs) across the country. Specifically, FASSSTER connects syndromic surveillance and event surveillance from the field to an electronic medical record, uses health information to improve on initial disease models and provides a visualization tool for decision making.
The implementation of FASSSTER and its recalibration for COVID-19 is made possible through the efforts of several teams in ADMU, namely: the Data Science and Computational Modelling Team, Mathematical Modelling Team, Data Management Team, Data Warehouse Team, Systems Development Team, and the Public Health Team. Each team is led by notable professors and scientists:
Dr. Maria Regina E. Estuar is the team leader of FASSSTER and the Data Science and Computational Modelling Team. She is a professor at the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science at ADMU. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Ateneo Center for Computing Competency and Research (ACCCRE) and is the founder of the Ateneo Social Computing Science Laboratory. In 2019, she bagged the Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service Award for Science and Technology from TOWNS Foundation Inc. for her significant contributions in strengthening the country’s S&T capacity.
Dr. Elvira de Lara-Tuprio is an expert in disease modeling through differential equations and financial mathematics, with focus on financial derivatives and risk management. She is in charge of FASSSTER’s Mathematical Modelling Team. Currently, she works as an Associate Professor for the Mathematics Department of ADMU.
Dr. Marlene M. De Leon is the team leader of the Data Management Team of FASSSTER. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science of ADMU and manages Quality Assurance of Data and Information at the University.
Dr. Raymond Francis R. Sarmiento leads the Data Warehouse Team of FASSSTER. Currently, he works as the Director of the National Telehealth Center of the UP National Institutes of Health (UPNIH). He is also a Balik Scientist of the DOST who specializes in clinical and public health informatics and health data science, among others. In 2019, Dr. Sarmiento was recognized as an Outstanding Young Scientist in public health informatics by the National Academy of Science and Technology.
Mr. Christian Pulmano leads the Systems Development Team of FASSSTER. He works full-time as part of the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science of ADMU. He is also the head of the Ateneo Block Chain Laboratory (formerly AMBERLab) which received the Recognition of Excellence Award by OpenGov Asia in 2019. He is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of BluEHR, a spin-off product from ACCCRe
Dr. Norbie Mendoza leads the Epidemiology and Public Health Team of FASSSTER. He specializes in the field of health and medical informatics.
The development of FASSSTER is part of the DOST-PCHRD’s projects under the Information and Communications Technology in Health priority area which aims to advance the country’s telehealth services and systems and public health surveillance, among others. Committed to making lives better for the Filipino, the DOST-PCHRD supports the development of health and health-related research projects outlined by the DOST’s Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) and the National Unified Health Research and Development Agenda (NUHRA).