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



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 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.

Working at the forefront of research and innovation on biomedical devices for health in the country, the De La Salle University - Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (DLSU-IBEHT) launched five newly-approved projects during its virtual kick-off event last March 26, 2021.

Approved for support and funding by the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) the five new projects will address all three areas under the IBEHT framework, namely: R&D activities, support systems, and capacity building. 

1. The AGAPAY Project aims to develop a 3D printed wearable robot biomimetically designed to account for all the movements of the upper limbs, which will provide post-stroke and injured patients with a cost-efficient and high performance rehabilitation system. Now on its third phase, the study aims to demonstrate  the technology’s safety, feasibility, and effectiveness on healthy human participants. Also, the project will establish and develop testing protocols while taking into consideration existing international standards for its therapy program. This project is lead by Dr. Renann Baldovino, Associate Professor at the Manufacturing Engineering and Management Department of the Gokongwei College of Engineering, De La Salle University.

2. The LAPARA Project will develop a laparoscopic instrument that aims to improve maneuverability and ease of use for surgeons while undergoing laparoscopic surgery. Currently on its second phase, the team aims to have the prototype certified for the overall safety of its mechanical, electrical, and electromagnetic design, based on international and local regulations and standards. After obtaining the certifications and ethical clearance required, the team will move to test its overall performance during surgical operations under ideal conditions. This project will be implemented under the leadership of Dr. Nilo Bugtai, DLSU-IBEHT Director and a Full Professor at the Manufacturing Engineering and Management Department of the Gokongwei College of Engineering, De La Salle University.

3. The TAYÔ Project seeks to create a technology that will allow the restoration of the needed range of motion, regaining of strength and the recovery of the patient's ability to stand. Moving forward to the second stage of research, the device will undergo rigorous performance and reliability tests to conform to local and international safety and compliance standards. The device will then be tested in a controlled environment using healthy human participants to further prove its safety and effectiveness. Now on its second phase, the project will be implemented under the supervision of Dr. Armyn Sy, Associate Professor at the Manufacturing Engineering and Management Department of the Gokongwei College of Engineering, De La Salle University.

4. The CAPACITA Project addresses the gaps in bringing research to commercialization. The project targets to enable and equip researchers, inventors, technology transfer officers, and related personnel with the skills and knowledge in the commercialization of biomedical engineering and health technologies. Following a two-year plan, the project will focus on the development and implementation of training, workshops, resource materials, exhibit fairs, and industry immersion. The project is led by Atty. Christopher Cruz, IP Director, ITSO Manager, and Legal Counsel of De La Salle University.

5. The KANDILI Project  aims to develop a competitive intellectual property management system that will effectively facilitate the commercialization of biomedical and health technology researches and efficiently transform government-funded research projects into products and services that serve the people for greater societal impact. The project intends to promote collaboration by conducting needs assessments among project teams, government, and various industry stakeholders to determine the gaps and barriers to a successful commercialization of biomedical devices and health technologies in the country and at the same time involve the government, the academe, and the industry in providing support for research teams in technology transfer . This project is implemented under the supervision of Ms. Pamela Raye Tadeo, De La Salle University’s Intellectual Property Officer.

Aside from these new projects, DLSU-IBEHT has an ongoing project with DOST-PCAARRD – the DOE Project – a project that aims to develop a wearable monitoring sensor that can be used to determine peak fertility to aid the process of goat artificial insemination.

In his welcome remarks, DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya expressed his support to the projects, and emphasized the importance of advancing the field. “The lack of access to affordable medical devices has been identified as one of the challenges being faced by our healthcare system to date,” he says. “Our aim in the DOST-PCHRD is to strengthen the local capacity to produce our own health devices, and eventually prompt an environment where our researchers are able to aid our healthcare system through biomedical engineering,” he added.

IBEHT Director and Program Leader Dr. Nilo T. Bugtai also expressed his hopes for the projects and the Institute: "Manufacturing reliable, safe, easy to use and affordable biomedical devices developed by the Filipinos for Filipinos towards a healthier Filipino community and eventually, creating new industries for biomedical devices and equipment in the Philippines."

Even today, the “valley of death” remains to be a pressing challenge in research, which pertains to the difficulty of bringing research outputs to the market. Of which, the field of biomedical engineering and health technologies is no exception.

To help researchers overcome this daunting challenge, the DOST-PCHRD in partnership with the De La Salle University’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies (DLSU-IBEHT) launched the CAPACITA project (Capacity Building for Researchers, Inventors and Technology Transfer Personnel Commercializing Biomedical Devices and Health Technologies), which aims to equip researchers, inventors and technology transfer officers with the knowledge and skills necessary for commercialization.

Focusing on specific issues concerning the industry of biomedical engineering and health technologies, the CAPACITÀ Project aims to delve into topics relating to clinical trials, government regulatory requirements, and ethical questions concerning commercialization, among others. 

The project will follow a two-year plan:

Year 1: In preparation for the implementation, the team will conduct a needs-assessment survey and study for the development of resource materials, course of trainings and workshops. The conduct of the study will ensure that the capacity building activities will accommodate the needs of the field in terms of commercialization.

Year 2: Implementation of the trainings and workshops in partnership with different institutions.

There are very few capacity building programs in the field which aims to fill this gap [in commercialization]. This project is unique because it focuses on biomedical engineering and health technologies,” CAPACITA Project Leader and Director of the DLSU Intellectual Property Office (DIPO) Atty. Christopher Cruz says. “Our goal is to positively impact the society, and we will take pride in the fact that we did it in spite of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic posed,” he added.

The CAPACITA project is one of the newly-approved projects launched by the IBEHT during its virtual kick-off event last March 26, 2021. The project team already started the implementation of Year 1 of the project last September 2020.

A new COVID-19 variant officially designated as Lineage “P.3” was detected in the Philippines on 10 March 2021 as reported by the Philippine Genome Center (PGC). The variant was found from local samples in Central Visayas, collected on the same dates where there was a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases recorded in the region.

What do we know so far?

  • P.3 is designated as a variant under investigation (VUI) and not yet identified as a variant of concern (VOC) by the Department of Health (DOH), as the current available data are not enough to conclude that it will have significant implications to public health. Public Health England has classified it as a VUI.
  • To date, there are 104 total infections caused by the P.3 variant in the Philippines, of which majority are detected in Central Visayas. Samples from the Philippines were collected in late January up to February 2, 2021, and the sequencing run was conducted on February 4, 2021 by the PGC.
  • The results reported by PGC indicate that P.3 is found to bear multiple mutations of concern in the spike protein region. In simple terms, there were multiple changes detected in the spike region of the P.3 variant, the part of the virus responsible for attaching to human cells, which may possibly have “functional significance” as reported by PGC.
  • These mutations, or changes detected in P.3. are identified as E484K, N501Y, and P681H. They have been previously associated with known COVID-19 variants linked to possible increased transmissibility and immune escape. There is still no proof, based on available data, that P.3 is more infectious than the original version of Sars-CoV-2, but the presence of these three mutations suggests that it is possible. 
  • There are NO reports that the P.3 variant leads to worse symptoms of COVID-19.

What does it tell us?

  • Although not classified as a VOC, PGC recommends strengthening measures to prevent the spread of P.3 to other regions in the Philippines and other countries due to the potential public health implications of these mutations.
  • Regardless if we are situated in Metro Manila or in the provinces, we must not stop or even minimize practicing the minimum public health standards. With the recent announcement of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan, the DOH urges the public to stay at home unless extremely necessary and remember to avoid the three Cs (Closed spaces, Crowded places, and Close contact settings). 

What is DOST-PCHRD doing?

  • DOST-PCHRD initiated the funding and support for the biosurveillance studies of PGC on COVID-19 in the Philippines through the ARCHER Program. This support started six months ago, in October 2020, to aid current government efforts get a more comprehensive picture of the spread of the disease in the country. To date, the biosurveillance service of PGC is also being funded by the DOH.
  • DOST-PCHRD supports PGC’s recommendation to strengthen measures to prevent the spread of the P.3 variant to other regions and countries. So far, four, two, and one of each P.3 virus sequences have been submitted by the UK, Australia, Germany and Japan, respectively, in the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database which has now more than 700,000 SARS-CoV-2 submitted sequences.
  • In the long term, the Council aims to aid the government in determining the dynamics of the spread of the disease throughout its course.
  • This health research effort aims to provide our policymakers guidance in future planning with regard to epidemics in the country. Collected data from this project will be part of a baseline for the country for improving our health disaster responses in the future.

Variants, strains, and mutations simplified

Although connected in several ways, the terms variants, strains, and mutations do not mean the same thing. In simple terms,

  • Even a virus commits errors in copying itself. When a virus makes copies of itself or duplicates inside our body, sometimes, there are letters in the genome that are not written correctly. As a result, there are copies that are not made exactly the same as the original version, and we call this mutation. Just like how mistakes are natural in people, mutations are also natural in viruses.
  • As a result of its error of not perfectly copying itself, this mutation changes the new copy’s genome. Take note that several mutations may exist in a single copy, and when this happens, a new variant of the virus occurs. 
  • A strain, on the other hand, simply refers to a subtype of a larger virus species but has different characteristics. For example, SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of the larger coronavirus family that causes respiratory infections, in the same way that MERS-CoV is also a strain of coronavirus.

With the upcoming Holy Week, everyone is encouraged to avoid large congregations and practice religious activities at home. It is always recommended to maintain social distance, wear masks when going outside, and wash hands frequently.