Dr. Priscilla Torres, Dean of the UST Faculty of Pharmacy (right) hands over the certificate of appreciation to PCHRD's RDMD Chief Dr. Antonio Ligsay (Center).

The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) joins the celebration of Science Week 2012 of the College of Sciences, University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Sampaloc, Manila last 6 February 2012.

The five-day celebration with the theme “Building a Healthier Environment through Science” featured science lectures, research poster exhibits, and interactive exhibits on mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, microbiology and psychology.

In her opening message, Professor Elena Manansala, Assistant Dean of UST Faculty of Pharmacy said that the event will encourage graduating students to do relevant researches that will impact the community. “It is also an avenue to make our students aware on the researches undertaken by the university and effective way of cultivating research culture to prepare students to become productive member of the research community.”

Dr. Antonio Ligsay, Chief of the PCHRD’s Research Development and Management Division, served as reactor and keynote speaker. In his message, Dr. Ligsay motivated students to participate in discovering new knowledge through health research and development (R&D). “With those outputs you presented in the exhibits, I believe you have great potential to be part of the national endeavor to address health issues and problems of the country. Fresh minds usually have fresh ideas and we want to hear from you. If you have potential ideas for research - approach your institution’s faculty members, because together we can make the Filipino life better through health R&D.”


Dr. Ligsay also discussed the PCHRD research evaluation processes, submission of research proposal for funding and the policies and directions for health research. “PCHRD research priorities include genomics, drug discovery and development, studies on functional foods, hospital equipment and biomedical devices, ICT in health and chronobiology. Along with these priorities, we can maximize our creativity and keen ideas for research to seek for new technologies, products and innovations.”

UST is one of the member institutions of the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortia (MMHRDC) of the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS).

The 1st Scientific Symposium on the Prevention and Control of Leptospirosis in the Philippines offered a chance for the listeners to ask questions to the speakers about the researches presented.

The University of the Philippines Manila – College of Public Health (UPM-CPH) hosted the 1st Scientific Symposium on the Prevention and Control of Leptospirosis in the Philippines (LepCon), at the UPM-CPH Auditorium on the 26th of January 2012.

This year's symposium covered ten papers published by the ten Filipino and Japanese scientists in leptospirosis research under the LepCon program. Four working groups presented the progresses made in each of their respective studies. Working Group A talked about the surveillance of the disease and the creation of diagnostic kits and vaccines for leptospirosis. Working Group B presented the studies made in the burden of disease. Working Group C showed the results of their research on the environmental factors in transmission and outbreaks of leptospirosis. Working Group D discussed health promotion and advocacy concerning leptospirosis in the Philippines. Ten scientists who led each research in each working group attended the event as speakers.

LepCon is a collaborative effort of the UPM-CPH, Kyushu University (KU), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST).

In his opening remarks, Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Executive Director of the PCHRD-DOST, stressed that the symposium should serve as an inspiration to the researchers to choose leptospirosis as the field of their study.

He said, “I hope that with these presentations, we would be able to inspire and encourage other researchers, especially the young, to pursue this field of interest because it will severely and importantly affect the majority of Filipinos.”

Dr. Manuel Agulto and Mr. Masanori Kurisu shook each others hands after signing the MOU.

Dr. Manuel B. Agulto, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), Dr. Nina G. Gloriani, Dean of the UPM - College of Public Health (UPM-CPH), Mr. Masanori Kurisu of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), on behalf of the JICA Chief Representative Mr. Takahiro Sasaki, and Prof. Shin-Ichi Yoshida of Kyushu University (KU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formalize the agreement on the result of discussions at the 2nd Joint Coordinating Meeting (JCC Meeting) of the Japanese Technical Cooperation for the Project on Prevention and Control of Leptospitosis in the Philippines (LepCon), held at the Lara Hall, UPM-CPH on January 26, 2012.

LepCon is a program under the collaboration of the signing parties, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) that aims to form various research collaborations between Filipino and Japanese scientists to enhance the prevention and control of leptospirosis in the country. The program officially commenced on April 01, 2010.

The 2nd JCC Meeting shed light on the implemented activities in LepCon program over the past year such as conducting counterpart training between experts of UPM-CPH and KU, carrying out both local and international conferences, establishing a LepCon laboratory, and also the progresses made by the four working groups in bacteriological surveillance of leptospirosis, burden of disease, development of diagnostic kits for antigen detection, evaluation of diagnostic kits for antibody detection development of vaccines and epidemiology. Other important issues like future plans for project implementation and coordination with other agencies were also tackled.

After signing the MOU, Dean Gloriani mentioned the possibility for the overseas expansion of LepCon, granted that the program continues with its mission to help in the control and promotion of leptospirosis in the Philippines.

She said, “LepCon will continue to grow and pursue its mission in the control and promotion of leptospirosis in the Philippines. We hope that we could further expand this undertaking with the rest of Southeast Asia and, possibly, the rest of the world.”

The Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB), together with Forum for Ethical Review Committees in the Asian and Western Pacific Region (FERCAP), held an Advance Training for Surveyors and Accreditors on ethical review practices from January 30 to February 8, 2012. The primary objective of the training was to promote good ethical review practices in health research in the Asia and Pacific region by implementing international criteria for surveying and evaluating ethical review practices.

Scope of the training included the following areas: (a) training and certification of in-country surveyors of ethical review practices; (b) translation and in-country adaptation of the Surveying and Evaluating Ethical Review Practices guideline; (c) development of in-country and regional standards for recognition of ethical review committees; and (d) development of international human subject protection standards.

In the workshop, the participants were divided into working groups, each group with one facilitator. Working groups carried out an evaluation of the ethics committees of research institutions. The last days of the training were devoted to site visits: February 1-3 at the Philippine Heart Center and February 6-8 at the Medical City.

Members and affiliates of Asian and Western Pacific Ethics Committee participated in the training.  Lead surveyors and coordinators were Dr. Cristina E. Torres (FERCAP), Dr. Cecilia Tomas (PHREB), Ms. Julia Lu, Dr. Marita Reyes, Dr. Salome Vios, and Asst. Prof. Edlyn Jimenez.

Given its flexibility and extensive reach, a website is considered as an effective tool to achieve the purposes of communication: to inform, to educate, and to promote institutional programs and services. With this in mind, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) convened a meeting on Research Utilization (RU) and Making the Consortium Website Active last 19 January 2011 at the DOST Regional Office in Cebu City.

The PCHRD, headed by Ms. Merlita Opeña, Chief of the Research Information, Communication and Utilization Division (RICUD) discussed RU concerns of the Regional Health Research and Development Consortia (RHRDC) in Region VII and strategies on how to improve and maximize the use of the consortium’s website in advancing health R&D in the region.

During the meeting, Ms. Opena stressed the importance of having an active website in promoting research initiatives and activities of the consortium. "Our website is our window to the world. Its extensive reach makes it the best vehicle to promote what we are doing to our communities and researchers in the whole world," said Ms Opena.

She also emphasized that research utilization is not just about libraries and information databases. "We should also bridge the gap between the researchers and the users of the technology. In promoting health research, we need to be creative and go outside our traditional way of doing things -- to capture the fast development in health R&D."