Rarely you can meet a scientist who is also an entrepreneur at the same time. But it might surprise you that our fellow Filipino, a woman, is not just a scientist but also a serial entrepreneur. 

Most scientists know that the road from lab bench to the marketplace is a difficult journey. Thus, only few would dare to take that road. 

For Dr. Cynthia Goh, a DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientist Program Awardee, knowledge translation is a very important process in research. She firmly believes knowledge not translated into something beneficial for the society is useless.

At a young age, Dr. Goh found her passion for science through a chemistry book. She became interested in understanding how atoms and molecules work together - which eventually led her to the path of becoming a scientist. Dr. Goh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines and a Ph.D. from the University of California. She has also conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. 

In 2012, Dr. Goh established the Impact Centre, an independent institute at the University of Toronto where academics and industry partners work together to accelerate the development of emerging products and services that will benefit society. This, according to her, is rooted from her passion for bringing technology to the low resource communities of the world. 

Four years after, Dr. Go became the academic director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for her extensive knowledge, experience, and passion to ensure innovation and entrepreneurship become integrated into the University’s academic programs. 

Dr. Goh believes that a fundamental understanding of nature can lead to enormous benefits only if scientists take part in the process of knowledge translation.

In the past 15 years, she has launched seven companies in Toronto, one of which is Axela Inc., the leading Canadian life science company which provides a simple and effective approach to understanding protein-protein interactions. In 2006, her group has spun out ViveTM Nano, a Toronto-based firm that develops nanoparticle-based materials for a variety of fields such as catalysis and agriculture.

Ultimately, Dr. Goh’s current work as a Chemistry professor, entrepreneur, and academic director at the University of Toronto made her realize that she had to go back to the Philippines to help her fellow kababayans. The vehicle to implement this goal is the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and she is working on health products, her BSP stint was carried under the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

“As a PCHRD Balik Scientist I had the opportunity to connect with many students and faculty, as well as with the community, to learn about their concerns and issues helping me design my next project on community-based innovation,” she said.

During her engagement under BSP, she was able to share her expertise on Medical Diagnostics, Physical Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Functional Foods, and Technopreneurship. This year, she will be coming back to the Philippines to collaborate with the UP-Manila Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPM-TTBDO) in their application for the establishment of the Philippines’ first health-focused technology business incubator.

As we celebrate the National Women’s Month this year, Dr. Goh’s passion and achievement in science remind us that we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, and improve situations. We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors, and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.

Written by: Catherine Dimailig
Contributor: CJ Gonzales

Recognizing the risks posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 towards public health, the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) supports the research and development of technologies and projects that will aid in the monitoring and management of the said infection:

1. GenAmplifyTM CoronaVirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) rRT-PCR Detection Kit - Developed by Dr. Raul Destura and his team from the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), the diagnostic kit aims to detect the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) with high specificity and efficiency through a one-step multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) platform. The locally-developed kit is projected to cost ₱1,320 per test, which is significantly cheaper than its foreign counterparts at ₱8,500 per test. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a Certificate of Exemption for the said technology which provided the go signal for field testing. Manila HealthTek Inc., the first spin-off company from the University of the Philippines, will mass produce and distribute the kits to aid in the early diagnosis of COVID-19.

2. Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSSTER) for Early Detection of Diseases - In partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) and DOST-PCHRD, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) developed the FASSSTER application for visualizing spread of diseases, using data from the Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (PIDSR) system, Electronic Medical Records, and SMS-based reports of primary care facilities. At present, it is used to create predictive models and visualize possible scenarios of outbreaks of Dengue, Typhoid Fever, and Measles, at specified time periods. The research team will enhance the system for use in COVID-19 surveillance and response, as it will help support planning and decision-making of the DOH, LGUs, and healthcare facilities.

3. Clinical Characteristics and Transmission Patterns of COVID-19 in Confirmed Cases and their Contacts in the Philippines - The study, which will be implemented by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), aims to determine the transmission patterns of COVID-19 to help prevent its further spread and support the DOH in crafting policies for the containment and prevention of COVID-19.

4. In-vitro Study on the Efficacy of Lauric Acid and its Derivatives against SARS-CoV-2 - In partnership with ADMU, the project aims to test whether certain coconut oil components can diminish or prevent the infectivity of SARS-CoV2, the causative virus of COVID-19. The project will focus first on the determination of the anti-viral properties of the compounds and results will be used for further studies.

Despite its relatively low mortality rate compared to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), to date COVID-19 has affected more than 100,000 people globally, including the Philippines. This led to the decision of the World Health Organization (WHO) to categorize the infection as a pandemic - which can be controlled with proper measures, as reiterated by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom.

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) opens the call for research proposals on 1 April 2020. The DOST-PCHRD Executive Director, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, announced this last February 28, during the NCR and South Luzon Call Conference at the Hotel Jen, Pasay City.

The first batch of research proposals are on Mental Health, aligned to the National Mental Health Research Agenda launched in October 2019, a response to the Mental Health Act of 2017 or RA 11036.
The call also prioritizes research on COVID-19, particularly diagnostics, possible drug candidates, and preventive programs as the risk for the disease continues to increase at a global level.  According to Dr. Montoya, diagnostics research on COVID-19 is necessary to empower regional and local healthcare institutions to detect the virus at a point of care for immediate monitoring and treatment. As well, the DOST-PCHRD will support research on possible drug candidates for COVID-19 such as the virgin coconut oil. Equally important are preventive programs to strengthen policies and infrastructures to better cope with the challenges brought about by COVID-19.
In addition, researchers are also encouraged to submit proposals aligned to the Council’s research priorities, as follows: Functional Foods, OMICS Technology; Dengue and Other Arboviruses; Diagnostics; Biomedical Engineering & Health Technologies; ICT for Health; and Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Change Adaptation.
For more information on DOST-PCHRD grant services, visit this link: http://bit.ly/PCHRDGrants.

Call for Research Proposals: AHEAD-HPSR Program

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is pleased to announce the first call for research proposals for the Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Program.
Interested institutions, organizations, and researchers are invited to submit a full proposal on any of the topics listed below.

1. A Case Control Study Measuring the Relative Risk of Respiratory Disease among Users of Electronic Cigarettes, a Single Center Study involving Persons with HIV
2. Review of Innovative Health Financing for NCDs among ASEAN Member States
3. Assessment Of The Local Capacity Of The Pharmaceutical Industry In The Philippines
4. Assessment of Indoor Air Quality in Philippine Public Conveyances During Electronic Cigarette and Tobacco Heating System Use
5. Impact Assessment On The Implementation Of Value Added Tax (VAT) Exemption To Medicines Prescribed For Diabetes, Hypertension And High Cholesterol
6. Development and Implementation of Learning and Development Intervention for the DOH Regional HPSR Fellowship Program
7. Development Of A Comprehensive Social And Behavior Change (sbc) Plan For Primary Care In The Philippines

Interested institutions, organizations, and researchers are invited to submit a full proposal on any of the topics hereto attached.

Kindly submit your proposal and the following requirements on or before March 27, 2020 to Ms. Guidita L. Gelera at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ms. Clarissa B. Reyes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  1. Letter of Intent
  2. Project Proposal following the PCHRD Detailed Proposal Form
  3. Workplan Schedule (Gantt Chart of Activities)
  4. Proposed Line-Item Budget (LIB)
  5. Informed Consent Form (for studies involving human subjects)
  6. Curriculum Vitae of lead proponent (Principal Investigator/Project Leader)
  7. Duties and Responsibilities of each project personnel
  8. Profile of the institution
  9. Endorsement of agency head

For queries, you may contact Ms. Jayn Amor Acera at 651-7800 local 1326/1329 or Ms. Clarissa B. Reyes at (02) 837-2071 local 2138

Three of the Philippine Council's for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) research programs and technologies were featured in the recent tech-media conference, DOST's Big 20 in 2020, held on 20 February 2020 at the Hotel Jen, Pasay City. The conference is a kickoff activity to a series of launching and engagements for the promotion of the Department's programs and technologies for the year 2020. 

For Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (BEHT), three projects were highlighted namely: ReliefVent, RxBox, and the Biotek M Dengue Aqua Kit. Currently, the technologies are focusing on commercialization and roll-out efforts. The ReliefVent, a portable ventilator, has been redesigned and enhanced to be deployed in the hospitals for field testing. Similarly, the RxBox is set to undergo re-testing prior to deployment in selected  health centers nationwide.  Meanwhile, the Manila HealthTek, Inc., manufacturing company of the Biotek M, continues to work with the DOST-PCHRD in rolling out the technology to more users in the provinces. To showcase related technologies by Filipino scientists, the DOST-PCHRD partnered with the De La Salle University in organizing the 1st Philippine National Biomedical Engineering Conference this 18 March 2020.
Another highly-anticipated output is the world’s first anti-dengue herbal drug candidate being developed under the DOST-PCHRD Tuklas LunasTM research program. Years in the making, the drug candidate is currently undergoing Phase 1 of clinical studies, expected to end April 2020. Once trials are completed and the drug is proven safe and effective, the anti-dengue herbal drug will supply the demand for an affordable cure for dengue.
Also featured in the BIG 20 in 2020 is the launching of the Philippine Genome Center satellite facility in the Visayas in April 2020.  Under the PCHRD’s OMICS for Health research program, this facility aims to enhance the capabilities of the regions in the field of genomics research on health, agriculture as well as marine resources which are abundant in the Visayas, contributing to the overall development of the region. 
Aside from these programs, the public can look forward to more projects under the nine DOST-PCHRD research priorities. To know more about PCHRD-supported technologies, stay tuned to the DOST-PCHRD Facebook page (@dostpchrd), Twitter (@DOST_PCHRD), and website (pchrd.dost.gov.ph) for updates on official events and activities.