Solving complex problems with the right partners matters.”

Deriving inspiration from her experiences in leading health research work on neurodegenerative diseases, Board Overseer of the Harvard University Atty. Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine highlighted the importance of building on strategic R&D partnerships for health in her keynote speech during the 39th anniversary of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) last March 17, 2021.


Atty. Acuña-Sunshine shared how her work is inspired by her brother, Dr. Patrick Acuña, who is affected by the rare Filipino disease called X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism (XDP). "He is the reason why I do what I do, and why I am here today,” she said.

Affecting Filipino men mostly from Region 6, XDP may cause the patient’s inability to work or move in a normal way. As a result, the patients may suffer from depression, isolation, and the loss of livelihood which may lead to  the inability to afford food and medicine, among others. This affects not only the vulnerable patients but their families and the community as well.

To help alleviate the burdens of this disease, she directs the Collaborative Center for XDP at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), which seeks to understand XDP’s pathogenic mechanisms and develop cutting-edge therapies and interventions in collaboration with their network of academic, pharmaceutical and bioengineering partners. The center has made significant headway through actively funding several studies involving genomics and transcriptomics, cell and animal modeling, neuropathology and brain banking, gene regulation and epigenetics, and neuroimaging and deep brain stimulation. 

 

Through the Center, they were able to attract partners and experts including physician-scientists from University of the Philippines, Philippine Genome Center, Movement Disorder Society of the Philippines and Makati Medical Center, among other prestigious institutions. The DOST also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the MGH, which will serve as a pathway to create a stronger, wider research network with relevant institutions at Harvard University.

Further, Atty. Acuña-Sunshine also led the establishment of the Sunshine Care Foundation which provides funding and support to research projects dedicated to neurodegenerative diseases, and provides medical care and humanitarian aid to clinical patients and affected families.

In partnership with the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) and the DOST, she also leads the study “High Throughput Prevalence Study for XDP,” which analyzes de-identified newborn blood spots to gather information on the prevalence and geographical distribution of the disease. This process is envisioned to be used as a powerful epidemiological mechanism to quantify the prevalence not only of XDP but of other genetic conditions in the country as well. Thereby helping address the limited data on the number of patients of XDP and other diseases, and contribute to crafting evidence-informed health and wellness policies.


According to Atty. Acuña-Sunshine, her endeavor in XDP research provided her three important lessons:

First, forging partnerships can make a difference in research undertakings or initiatives. “Whether it's addressing a pandemic like COVID-19 or diseases specific to the Philippines like XDP, having people with the right diversity of perspectives and expertise is key to effective and efficient problem solving,” she said. 


Second, continuing to expand scientific knowledge in a variety of fields, and investing in infrastructure and people to build their talents will also play a critical role in trying to solve healthcare problems.


Lastly, she highlighted that the Philippines can also be a model for other developing countries, in terms of developing their research approach for unique healthcare problems and advancing scientific knowledge for all.


Our work has shown that we can allocate our resources wisely, while building the science and technology infrastructure we need to meet the health challenges that are here and are yet to come,” she concludes.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The DOST-PCHRD celebrated its 39th anniversary last March 17, 2021 through an online webinar with the theme Strategic R&D Partnership for Global Health. Aside from Atty. Acuña-Sunshine, the webinar was also attended by other experts in the field of health research, including DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Christina Guevara, Italian Liver Foundation Scientific Director Dr. Claudio Tiribelli, and UP Manila College of Public Health Dean Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr..

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) recognizes the vital role of the research mentor who selflessly shares knowledge and skills, instills values and attitudes, and inspires those involved in the research process, thereby creating an enabling environment and contributing to capacity-building in research. 

The Best Mentor Award is offered biennially to recognize and reward mentors in health research who have built the capacities of researchers in the health sector and, in the process, propelled significant advances in the Philippine National Health Research System’s (PNHRS) thrusts as identified in the National Unified Health Research Agenda (NUHRA).

Awardees will be selected per cluster (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR) and categorized according to their mentees (Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Junior/Early Career Researchers). Also, national winners will be chosen for each category who will be awarded during the PNHRS Week Celebration.

OBJECTIVE

Best Mentor Award recognizes excellence in mentorship that results in productivity of mentees in health research.

ELIGIBILITY

A. Who can nominate

The nominating party may be any of the following:

  • head of the nominee’s institution or immediate supervisor
  • colleague/s 
  • trainee/s 
  • student/advisee

Self-nomination is not allowed.

B. Who can be nominated

  1. must be a Filipino citizen
  2. must be with appropriate or relevant academic qualifications 
  3. must be actively involved in mentoring researchers/students or colleagues for at least 3 years 
  4. has a good track record as a researcher in terms of any of the following: publication, product development or policy formulation 
  5. professionally involved in health research activities either as a research program/project leader, principal and co-principal investigator, mentor/adviser/trainer, or author/co-author 
  6. actively involved in any health research activities in the last 5 years such as conduct of research training and extension work, paper presentations, fund generation, research promotion and networking, research agenda setting, and capacity-building activities

*Winners are ineligible for subsequent nominations, while non-winners are still eligible for nominations if they submit a new set of documents but not for consecutive calls of nomination

HOW TO NOMINATE

Submit the recommendation form (either personally delivered, by courier, or thru email) for initial screening to the regional consortium secretariat. (Please refer to the attached list of regional consortia and contact information)

For completed DOST-PCHRD and ASTHRDP scholars, submit entries to DOST-PCHRD for screening and endorsement of the PCHRD Scholar’s Society (PSS).

A. For the qualified nominees

The requirements below should be submitted strictly within the deadline 

1. Five (5) hard copies of the following documents:

1.1. Accomplished curriculum vitae of the nominee using the prescribed format for Best Mentor Award  

1.2. A narrative description (1,000-1,500 words) of the nominee’s mentoring activities using the guide questions provided, accompanied by supporting documents, e.g.  photos and other relevant documentation. 

1.3. Description of other achievements attained related to health research for the last 5 years, including supporting documents e.g., photocopy of certificates of recognition/awards/honors received by the nominee, which are relevant to the nominee’s eligibility criteria in Section IV. B Who can be nominated.

2. Cite names of 5 mentees, their achievements in research, and a narrative description of the nominee’s contribution to the success of each mentored research. 

To be submitted in a folder with proper tabbing and table of contents. Supplemental documents and/or verifications may be required as deemed necessary. 

B. Selection Criteria

There will be a review of nominations by the Cluster/National Selection Committee based on the following criteria:

c.2.1.  Research Guidance                   44%

  • Quantitative Indicators – refer to the no. of research mentees guided, advised or mentored by the candidate; also includes the nominee’s years of experience in mentoring. 
  • Qualitative indicators – to be decided by the evaluators; may include extent, quality/result of the research guidance/mentoring done e.g., awards and other forms of recognition received by the mentor and/or other mentees

c.2.2.  Track Record in Research              21%              

  • Publications refer to peer-reviewed journals during the last 5 years: 
                 ○ main author in a Philippine journal or international journal
                 ○ co-author in a Philippine journal or international journal

  • Awards received refer to recognition received for the research completed as:
                 ○ main author/principal investigator in the Philippines or International 
                 ○ 
co-author/member of a research team in the Philippines or International

  • Paper presented refers to the number of times the nominee presented the research work/paper in conference, workshop by recognized organization (either oral or poster)
  • Completed research covers completed unpublished researches over the last 5 years 

c.2.3.   Dedication in promoting research     20%                                                                                 

  • Types of active involvement in five years
                   ○ Teacher, adviser, panel member, critic
                   ○ 
Advocate of health-related policies
                   ○ 
Reviewer of refereed journal article/editor/member of editorial board/team 
                   ○ 
Member of professional organization/network
                   ○ 
Trainor in training courses/resource person/lecturer
                   ○ 
Research manager/director, coordinator, evaluator

  • Quality of active involvement within 5 years as:
                   ○ Teacher, adviser, panel member, critic
                   ○ 
Advocate of health-related policies
                   ○ 
Reviewer of refereed journal articles, editor/member of editorial team
                   ○ 
Trainor in training courses/resource person
                   ○ 
Research manager, coordinator, evaluator

c.2.4. Contribution towards a supportive research environment      10%
  • Providing research opportunities as:
                   ○ Organizer/initiator of program, project, policy
                   ○ 
Organizer/initiator/member of team for workshops, conferences
                   ○ 
Organizer/initiator/member of team for training courses
                   ○ 
Director/chair/administrator for research
                   ○ 
Study group leader
                   ○ 
Research team leader

 c.2.5. Other Criteria as agreed by the Evaluators 5%   

This may include awards/recognition received by mentees/advisees/students of the nominee or any agreed criteria; impact of R&D in terms of patenting, commercialization, and/or utilization of research results into policies and actions such as training modules developed, teaching manuals, community modules, contribution to national health development/equity and/or relevance of research results in health care delivery; etc


ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS AND PRIZES

  • All qualified nominees will receive certificates of recognition. 
  • Cluster Winners from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and National Capital Region will receive respective cash prizes and plaques of recognition. 

                   Mentors of Undergraduate Students -               P50,000.00
                   
Mentors of Graduate Students -                        P50,000.00
                   
Mentors of Junior/Early Career Researchers -  P100,000.00


  • National Winners for each category will receive respective additional cash prizes and trophies which will be awarded during the PNHRS Week Celebration.
                   Mentors of Undergraduate Students -               P150,000.00
                   Mentors of Graduate Students -                        P150,000.00 
                   Mentors of Junior/Early Career Researchers -  P200,000.00


TIMETABLE


Activity


2021 Timeline

Call for nomination

March – 1st week of May

Submission of recommendation form to the consortium

May 14, 2021

Submission of the endorsed recommendation forms to DOST-PCHRD

May 21, 2021

Submission of complete nominee’s documents to DOST-PCHRD

May – June 2021

Pre-screening of nominee’s complete documents

June

Selection Process

     -  Cluster

     -  National

June- July

Awarding of Winners

PNHRS Week

Celebration

(second week of August)

The DOST-PCHRD Undergraduate Thesis Grant in Natural Products provides fund support to all undergraduate students who will conduct their thesis on natural products. The program aims to sustain a research culture in natural products to increase the number of research and later on build a pool of researchers/experts specializing in the field. The program supports the Tuklas Lunas (Drug Discovery and Development) program of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) which aims to develop safe, effective, and affordable alternative drugs from the country’s natural resources.

Thesis grants will be given to two (2) undergraduate entries per region (subject to availability of funds). After completion of the project, a competition will be held for selected qualified students to recognize their innovative work on natural products.

Who can apply?

All undergraduate students of Pharmacy, Chemistry, Nursing, and Health and Allied Sciences who have thesis proposals on natural products may apply. The proposed thesis study must use plants indigenous in the region. The project must be completed a year after receiving the grant.

How to apply?

Applicants should submit the following documents to the Regional Health Research and Development Consortium (RHRDC):

  1. Duly accomplished prescribed research proposal form with college seal
  2. Endorsement letter from the institution signed by the head of the university and the college dean
  3. Soft copy of the proposal (word format)
  4. Hard copy of the proposal using A4 paper (3 copies)
  5. Certificate of plant authentication
  6. Appropriate clearances: 
    • Bureau of Animal Industry clearance for studies involving animal subjects
    • Biosafety Clearance for studies involving genetic engineering and pathogenic organisms
    • National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Clearance for studies involving Indigenous Peoples
    • Gratuitous Permit from Biodiversity Management Bureau for studies involving collection of flora and fauna from DENR Protected Areas
    • Ethical clearance for studies involving human subjects
  7. Curriculum vitae of the students and adviser

Selection Criteria

The research proposals will be rated based on the following criteria:

  1. Technical merit
        • Objectives are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound
        • The study design supports the objectives
        • The study sample and methodology are appropriate
  2.  Data management
        • The plan for data collection is clearly described
        • Quality control procedures for data collection are in place
        • Statistical analysis is well described
  3.  Relevance/Significance
        • The study addresses an important health problem
        • The study contributes to the advancement of scientific knowledge
  4. Proponent/institution’s capacity
        • The investigators are qualified and appropriately trained to carry out the study
        • The proposed study is appropriate to the experience level of the investigators
        • The implementing/cooperating institution is capable of carrying out the proposed study

Thesis Grant 

  • Two (2) thesis proposals will be selected in each region. Researchers will receive a grant amounting to a maximum of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P 50,000.00).
  • The thesis grant will be deposited to the bank account of the thesis adviser and will be liquidated after the completion of the study
  • A Memorandum of Agreement will be signed between the students, adviser, head of the institution, and DOST-PCHRD
  • The grant must be expended as allocated in the approved line-item budget

Cash Award

Six (6) grantees will be selected as finalists to present their studies during the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week celebration. The top three (3) presentors will receive the following prizes:

Frist prize = P 30,000.00

P 20,000.00 for the student

 

P 10,000.00 for the adviser

Second prize = P 22,000.00

P 15,000.00 for the student

 

P 7,000.00 for the adviser

Third prize = P 15,000.00

P 10,000.00 for the student

 

P 5,000.00 for the adviser

Consolation prize

P 5,000 per group

Finalists will receive a plaque of recognition.

Schedule of Activities

ACTIVITY

DATE

Call for Applications

March to May 2021

Deadline of submission to the consortium

May 31, 2021

Endorsement of shortlisted entries to DOST-PCHRD

June 11, 2021

Evaluation of thesis proposals by the Selection Committee and Provision of grants to selected grantees

June to July 2021

Conduct of study

August 2021 to May 2022

Submission of completed studies to DOST-PCHRD

June 3, 2022

Selection of oral presentors by the Selection Committee

June to July 2022

Oral Presentation and Announcement of Winners

August 2022


For inquiries, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) together with the Department of Health (DOH) organized an online Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training program in preparation for the conduct of vaccine clinical trials.

The GCP training aims to capacitate community healthcare workers (CHWs) on upholding and safeguarding the rights of participants in vaccine clinical trials, and to provide a platform where the CHWs may raise their questions and concerns on the upcoming trial. 

Covering different areas that will help ensure the trial’s adherence to scientific and ethical standards, the training will feature modules from notable experts in the field:

1. DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya - Clinical Trials Administrative Oversight 
2. Forum for Ethical Review Committees in Asia and the Western Pacific - Asian Regional Coordinator Dr. Cristina E. Torres - The Dos and Don'ts of Clinical Trials
3. University of the Philippines-Manila Research Ethics Board Coordinator Ms. Edlyn Jimenez - Informed Consent at Recruitment ng Participants
4. Philippine Clinical Research Professionals President Mr. Al Ryan Baniqued - Safety Reporting at Documentation ng Clinical Trials 

The training will follow a “flipped classroom” format, where the participants may access the modules at their own time and pace. Certificates will be provided for those who will complete the program.

Capacitating our community healthcare workers is very critical to ensure the success of vaccine clinical trials, especially since they will serve as the primary touchpoints of the participants,"  DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime C. Montoya says. "It is our hope that through this program, we will be able to strengthen our efforts by making sure that we will always adhere to the highest scientific and ethical standards,” 
he adds.

All CHWs are welcome to join the online training, including: City Health Workers, Municipal Health Workers, Barangay health workers, licensed doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists serving in public health centers and hospitals, and other licensed health professionals working in private clinics or hospitals.

Interested participants must take note of the following requirements for the online training:

1. Internet-enabled gadgets such as a laptop, mobile phone or tablet

2. Email account

3. Facebook account (optional)

Deadline of the registration for the online training is on April 12, 2021. Enrollment may be done through this link: bit.ly/GCPenrollment.


The world has taken remarkable strides in sciences throughout its efforts to combat COVID-19 as a newly emerging disease. By allowing experts to better understand the disease and its effects on the human body, the field of biomedical research has contributed significant knowledge to COVID-19 response globally. Recognizing its potential in addressing pressing health concerns, Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) Balik Scientist Dr. Heidie Frisco-Cabanos returned to the Philippines in March 2020 with hopes to contribute to the field of biomedical translational research in the country.

With her experience and expertise as a research fellow from the Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Medical School, Dr. Cabanos is currently serving as a visiting scientist-consultant for the establishment of the Biomedical Innovations Research for Translational Health Science Laboratory (BIRTHS Lab) in the University of the Philippines Manila College of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (UPM-CM-DBMB).

“The main goal really of my BSP visit is to help establish cutting-edge biomedical research in the Philippines,” says Dr. Cabanos, believing that it would help advance biomedical research and enable the translation of research outcomes to solutions for infectious diseases. Once established, the BIRTHS Lab is set to develop local capacities in performing experimental work involving laboratory animals and such alternatives. It will also facilitate projects on COVID-19 immune responses and vaccine-induced immunity, which can be used as reference in exploring the applications of similar technologies and solutions for other diseases.

Having started her Balik Scientist engagement during the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Cabanos admits that the scientific community was thrown into disarray, especially the field of biomedical translational research where extensive laboratory experiments are required. Forced to postpone all on-site visits due to travel restrictions, the Balik Scientist remained unfazed and dedicated to her work, continuing to impart her expertise to Filipino researchers through online seminars, lectures, and meetings.  This is a testament to what she shares is one of the most important lessons she has learned as a woman scientist during the pandemic─ being able to adapt to any situation.

Dr. Cabanos believes that women are able to make significant impact in providing solutions to the pandemic with their ability to better empathize with the needs of vulnerable sectors. “Women should continue to be a voice with a heart and give perspectives normally not observed by men and the rest of society,” she says on the role of women, especially those in science, in this pandemic.

Through the grit and perseverance of women scientists such as Dr. Cabanos, health research is able to move forward amidst a global health crisis.  To Dr. Cabanos, “Science is not a sprint but a marathon.” The work and knowledge generated by the previous generations of scientists and researchers are the foundation to the breakthroughs being achieved today. In turn, Dr. Cabanos hopes that her efforts in establishing biomedical translational research in the country will bear greater outcomes in the future that will make Filipino lives better.

Hoping that there will be more women scientists who will facilitate research-based, accessible health solutions for Filipinos, Dr. Cabanos encourages aspiring researchers to enrich their talents and skills with guidance from a mentor. As a mentor herself during her BSP engagement, she advises to “be humble by admitting that you don’t have answers to everything and learn from other experts.”

The Balik Scientist Program is the brain gain initiative of the DOST which aims to encourage overseas-based Filipino researchers to return to the Philippines and share their expertise to strengthen the capacities of local researchers in the academe, public and private sectors, and industry.