The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will hold the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on 17-21 July 2019 at the World Trade Center (WTC), Pasay City.

With the theme “Science for the People: Enabling Technologies for Sustainable Development,” DOST will once again feature the contributions of science, technology, and innovation (STI) to the overall growth of national development.

This year, DOST will highlight its breakthrough programs, technologies, and services into eight clusters namely Food Security, Energy, and Environment; Aging Society, Health, and Medical Care; Biodiversity and Sustainable Use of Biological Resources; S&T Human Resource Development; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Resilience and Innovation; Equity and Growth in the Countryside; and International Linkages.

As lead of the Aging Society, Health, and Medical Care cluster, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) will feature newly supported health technologies such as the Axis Knee Revision which is a technology for the revision of damaged original knee replacement systems. This technology will provide augments to the knee system that usually damages the bone due to implant operations.

The Council will also showcase the Balance on Action Team (BOAT), a study that addresses the need for a balance rehabilitation equipment that shall ensure a fast, engaging balance rehabilitation by developing an automated gamified balance board platform that aims for a balance exercise tool for faster, more improved, and more motivated balance rehabilitation process.

Another PCHRD-supported technology that will be featured, the Design and Development of Quantitative Gait Assessment Methods of Normal and Hemiplegic Gaits using 3D Motion Capture System and Wearable Inertial Sensors (GAIT), is an innovation that will provide a standard and objective assessment scheme for evaluating the gradual improvements of Filipino hemiplegic post-stroke patients, a reference database for normal and hemiplegic gaits which could be used as a treatment and as a biofeedback tool, and a baseline in developing alternative low-cost gait assessment methods such as wearable inertial sensors.

The Health Cluster will also house the technologies and products of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI), and the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP).

"Our cluster will showcase the application of STI in various parts of the body: the head, heart, stomach, arms, legs, and extremities. We want to emphasize how science affects our bodies through all life stages,” Dr. Jaime Montoya, PCHRD Director, explained.

Aside from the annual exhibit, people can also expect weeklong interactive games, raffle, nutrition counseling, cooking demonstration, and photobooth. For more information, visit www.nstw.dost.gov.ph!

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science is currently calling for applications for the 12th HOPE Meeting to be held in Tokyo, Japan on 9 to 13 March 2020.

The HOPE Meeting is an event for graduate students and young researchers to network and engage in discussions with fellow academicians from different disciplines. It will also feature lectures, small group discussions, a poster session, oral presentations, a cultural experience program, and research facilities and historical heritages excursion.

NOMINATIONS

The application is open to promising young researchers who obtained his/her PhD in Physics, Chemistry, or Physiology/Medicine and related fields (receiving their PhDs after 2 April 2014). Interested parties are requested to submit the accomplished application form together with the following documents to Office of the Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services (OUSEC-STS) not later than 26 August 2019:

  1. Endorsement from head of agency
  2. Copy of curriculum vitae; and
  3. Copy of transcript of records

Please note that the applicant’s CV should highlight his/her publications in international/national/local ISI and non-ISI journals and proceedings as well as presentations in international/national/local fora. The applicant should also have a valid Philippine passport and be ready to travel in case he/she is selected.

For more information about the HOPE meeting, you may visit their website at www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-hope/index.html.

Applications may be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; and for further inquiries, you may contact 837-7494 or 8372071 loc 2006.

Contrary to the growing worry about the African Swine Fever (ASF), the virus spreading among pigs is harmless to human health.

What is the African Swine Fever?

The virus was first detected in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1920s, although the first outbreak was recorded in Portugal in 1957. Despite years of research for cure, there is still no official vaccine yet proven to eradicate the virus.

ASF is defined as a transboundary animal disease caused by a double-stranded DNA virus which leads to a fatal hemorrhagic fever to the affected animal. Symptoms of the infection include appetite loss, redness of the skin, vomiting and diarrhea. Controlling and preventing the infection is highly prioritized as the transmission is quick, but the disease is hard to detect, and it may take days before the symptoms show.

The spread of the ASF jumped from Africa to Europe through the exportation of contaminated meat. Through the years, the virus rapidly spread throughout countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia. Just recently, the virus has entered the boundaries of China – which led to the cull of more than a million pigs up to date. As China is the biggest producer of pork, this is projected to greatly impact the market and the economy, with a decrease in supply and an increase in prices of pork meat.

Although the virus is harmless to human health, it is relevant to heighten security measures to prevent the virus from spreading – in line with the high transmission rate, the lack of cure, and the ability of the virus to withstand extreme conditions. It has also been noted that the virus can survive even in processed meat such as corned pork, bacon and maling.

What can be done to prevent ASF from spreading?

So far, the virus has not yet entered the Philippines, and security measures are tightened to prevent it from entering the country’s boundaries.

Aside from ensuring that infected animals and meat will not enter our market, it is important to practice preventive measures such as ensuring proper hygiene for the animals, providing clean feed, constant monitoring for signs of infection and a tighter security against illegal importation of meat.

In line with this, the Department of Agriculture (DA) implemented a temporary ban on the importation of pork and pork products from 16 ASF affected countries which includes Hungary, Poland, Vietnam and China. DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also assured that aside from the ban, the department will carry out tighter securities to ensure that the country will remain ASF-free. Part of this effort is to station meat-sniffing dogs in international airports and the implementation of a stricter inspection by the Bureau of Customs for the belongings of incoming passengers from ASF-affected countries.

References:

  • https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-eliminating-african-swine-fever/
  • http://www.oie.int/en/animal-health-in-the-world/animal-diseases/african-swine-fever/
  • https://www.sanidadanimal.info/en/104-emerging-diseases/379-african-swine-fever
  • https://www.wur.nl/en/article/African-swine-fever-in-Europe.htm
  • https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1068760
  • https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/13911-african-swine-fever-disrupts-world-protein-picture
  • https://www.rappler.com/nation/220019-philippines-ban-pork-from-8-countries-african-swine-fever

 


Did you know that the continuous migration of our S&T workers abroad has resulted into brain drain? In an effort to reverse brain drain, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) strengthened the Balik Scientist Program (BSP).  To sustain the program and make it more attractive for Filipino scientists working and residing abroad, the Balik Scientist Act of 2018 or RA 11035 was signed by the President last June 2018.

The Balik Scientist Program encourages Filipino scientists, technologists, and experts to return to the country and share their expertise for the country's scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development, including the development of our human capital in science, technology and innovation.  From 2007 up to May of 2019, the program attracted 236 scientists deployed in 348 engagements. Most of the them came from North America and Asia, a few from Europe, Australia, and Africa. 

The three DOST councils. namely: the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD), Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), and Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) are responsible for the engagements of the BSP awardees.

Some of the Balik Scientists engagements have led to several breakthroughs and discoveries, as follows:

In marine and aquatic research, an expedition to the Spratley islands was conducted for biological and oceanographic research. Dr. Deo Florence Onda was able to collect biological samples in the reef which are now used as a baseline data to understand ecosystem connectivity and genetic connectivity among habitats in the island.

In emerging technology research, Dr. Manuel Hernandez was able to assist in the development of the Hybrid Electric Road Train (HERT) that is more energy efficient than conventional trains. HERT runs on both diesel fuel and electricity that is powered by a generator of more than 250 batteries. 

In drug discovery research, Dr. Doralyn Dalisay and her team work on a breakthrough antibiotic drug taken from marine sediments harvested from the ocean floor off Iloilo province. Through the painstaking research and development being done by Dr. Dalisay, they may be able to develop the next super antibiotic drug in the next three to four years.



The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) funds a research which aims to develop a diagnostic kit for the detection of drug resistant Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Once made available in the market, this breakthrough technology will create a positive impact on the lives of people living with HIV not only in the Philippines but around the world.

“Having a test kit that will detect the resistance of HIV to drugs at the start of medical care allows doctors to decide on the best treatment options for their patients,” explained Dr. Edsel Salvaña, Project Leader from the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UPNIH) in the recent installment of the Talakayang HeaRTBeat series organized by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on 21 May 2019 at the Luxent Hotel, Quezon City.

As explained by Dr. Salvaña, the problem with HIV is it can become resistant to medication even at the start of treatment. This means some drugs may not work on the patient. Knowing the resistance of HIV to drugs is very crucial especially for our country where there is only a limited number of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) available.

Another challenge in the process of HIV diagnosis is the availability of only two organizations in the country that can test for the virus – namely the UPNIH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) – it takes a long time to get the results, and the cost of the test itself is quite expensive.

The research project of Dr. Salvaña focuses on the use of an automated DNA sequencing tool that can potentially help diagnose HIV resistant cases faster and at a lower cost. The ultimate goal is to produce a kit that is accessible, affordable, and world-class possibly by 2023.  “There is no cure yet (for HIV). Kung masyadong mahal (yung tools), edi ibababa natin yung cost para we can also take care of the Filipino patients,” he stressed.

As of the latest, 42 HIV cases were said to be reported daily in the Philippines, which is higher than the data recorded in the same period last year.

References:

  • https://news.mb.com.ph/2019/03/09/doh-reports-1200-new-cases-of-hiv-in-january/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5439027/