By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will get 284 million worth of funding in 2021 for the purchase of equipment and other needs that will be used to start research activities under the proposed Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
The good news was shared by Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST undersecretary for Research and Development in the DOST Report episode aired on 30 October 2020. Dr. Guevara gave an update on the proposed virology institute that will be the country’s premier research facility encompassing all areas in the study of viruses and viral diseases.
In the recent episode of DOST Report aired on 30 October 2020, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development, shares with the viewers the updates on the department’s initiatives and efforts in the vaccine availability process. (Screenshot from DOST Report episode)
Dr. Guevara underscored the importance of the VIP that would focus mainly on studying and developing vaccines on humans, animals, and plants. She said that there are research projects that have been approved and these would focus on the ZIKA virus, African Swine Flu for pig, and kadang-kadang for coconut.
The bill creating the VIP has already been filed in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
According to Usec. Guevara, the creation of the VIP would undergo two phases. The first is to organize the Filipino researchers who have been doing virology on humans, animals, and plants. The second is the establishment of the building or research facility that will take around two years to complete.
Furthermore, Usec. Guevara, head of the sub-technical working group on vaccine clinical trials, shared the many initiatives being implemented to provide for the development of and access to vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Guevara said the first step taken was to participate in the Phase 3 clinical trials of bilateral partners such as China and Russia. Once the vaccine becomes available, the Philippines would have the access to that as early as possible. The other strategy employed was to participate in the solidarity trials of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Exploring all avenues, the Philippines will also join Gavi COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Moreover, Guevara shared that the medium-term goal of the country is to establish a Modular Multi-product Fill-and-Finish Facility to be operated by a local manufacturing company. Fill and Finish involves the process of filling vials with vaccine and finishing is the process of packaging the medicine for distribution.
The DOST Report is a regular broadcast program of the Science and Technology Information Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-STII) that highlights the various initiatives and innovations of the DOST aired live every Friday, 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, through the DOSTv Facebook page and YouTube channel.
DOST gets nod from UNCTAD for S&T advocacy in spite of pandemic
By Joy M. Lazcano, DOST-STII, S&T Media Service
A United Nations high-ranking official expressed her admiration for the country’s efficient use of frontier technologies and support for science and technology.
Frontier technologies are the next generation technologies that hope to bring an inclusive and sustainable development across all economies. These technologies, which include 5G internet, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, big data analytics, robotics, and internet of things herald the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as new products and services will eclipse the traditional global market.
During the opening of the 2020 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW), Dr. Shamika Sirimanne, director of the Division on Technology and Logistics of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development delivered her message commending the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for successfully holding the annual science and technology fair featuring locally-developed technologies despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic.
She said that “the commitment to advocating the role of S&T in the Philippines particularly in this challenging time is commendable.”
Sirimanne pointed out that second only to India, the Philippines is considered as one of the overperformers in the adoption of so-called frontier technologies relative to its per capita Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
According to Pew Research Center, “countries with a higher GDP per capita generally have higher rates of smartphone ownership and internet and social networking use.”
She also mentioned that the Philippines has a “high-ranking industry” that reflects the high level Foreign Direct Investments on high-tech manufacturing particularly electronic products. Incidentally, the DOST aligns its programs to this strategy with the creation of world class facilities like the national testing laboratory called Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL) and the Electronic Products Development Center (EPDC).
On the other hand, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña welcomes this development. In fact, the science chief underscored the importance of innovation with the many contributions of the different research and development institutes (RDIs) under its wings during the time of pandemic; technologies developed and feature in the 2020 NSTW exhibits that range from remote health devices, nutrition, alternative energy to mobile apps and other initiatives that address not only COVID-19 but also other socioeconomic problems in the country.
In fact, just last September, the DOST reported the results of the Global Innovation Index 2020 which saw the country rose to 50th rank, up by four notches from the previous year and climbed 23 steps from the 73rd position in 2018.
De la Peña, in his message, shared that “we are also looking ahead for the years to come. We are now at the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. And with the things happening around us, masasabi ko na narito na tayo, handa, at buong lakas na hinaharap ang kinabukasan. Dahil ang kaunlaran natin bilang tao, bilang isang bansa, ay nakasalalay sa agham, teknolohiya at inobasyon.”
The DOST is the premier government body that provides the central direction, leadership and coordination on both scientific and technological initiatives of the country through its research and development thrusts. The DOST ensures that these initiatives bear fruit to ultimately benefit the Filipino people.
The 2020 NSTW will run from 23-29. This year, the celebration is in virtual mode as restrictions to mobility and public gatherings are still implemented in the National Capital Region.
DOST kicks off first virtual science week
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) launched the first virtual 2020 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) celebration on 23 November 2020 via Facebook live and the 2020 NSTW virtual platform.
This year’s theme, “Agham at Teknolohiya: Sandigan ng Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kaayusan, at Kinabukasan”, aims to highlight different innovative solutions and new S&T knowledge related to agriculture, livelihood and enterprise development, safety, health and nutrition, education, disaster preparedness, and community development.
“The pandemic did not deter us from celebrating the 2020 NSTW. On the contrary, it inspired us more to think outside the box. In reality, it helps us to be more creative, be more resourceful, and be more innovative,” said Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña of DOST.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña commenced the opening of this year’s NSTW.
With the power of technology, we were able to design virtual exhibits.”, Sec. de la Peña added.
The DOST believed that the NSTW has become a beacon of hope ever since. As DOST aimed to bring science closer to the people to let them experience, to let them live, and let science work for them.
At the virtual kick-off, the DOST also recognized outstanding research projects in the 2020 National Science and Technology Awards. Annually, the DOST, through the National Academy of Science and Technology or NAST PHL, gives recognition to deserving individuals or groups who exemplified outstanding qualities in science and technology and who proved themselves worthy of their achievements and accomplishments in their respective fields.
The DOST awarded two (2) winners for the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research or the Eduardo A. Quisimbing Medal. The winners are Dr. Rachel June Ravago Gotanco, of the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines Diliman for her research titled, “Rarity of the ‘common’ coral Pocillopora damicomis in the western Philippine archipelago” and Dr. Roel R. Suralta, with co-authors Jennifer M. Mangkil, Jonathan M. Manangkil, Jonathan M. Niones, Jerwin R. Undan, Mitsuhiro Obara, Teodora E. Mananghaya, Rachelle P. Mallari, Maybell DM. Banting, Sherilyn B. Estrada, and Mark Philip B. Castillo for their research titled, “Quantitative Trait Loci Associated with Root Elongation Ability of Rice under Nitrogen-deficient Condition”.
The Outstanding Research and Development Award for Applied Research or the Julian A. Banzon Medal was awarded to Dr. Erwin P. Enriquez of the Ateneo de Manila University with co-authors Sarah May Sibug-Torres and Isagani D. Padolina for their research titled, “Field-ready tools for fingerprinting of herbal materials for the medicinal plant industry”.
The Outstanding Science Administrator Award or the Dioscoro L. Umali Medal was given to Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma of the Philippine Genome Center in recognition of her profound and lasting contributions as Executive Director of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) of the University of the Philippines (UP) System.
The recognition aimed to serve as an inspiration to all scientists out there to continue using science
and technology in creating a progressive Philippines.
Continuing with the opening ceremonies, Dr. Shamika Sirimanne, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) delivered a keynote speech. She highlighted the importance of digital technologies in giving voice and empowering the people.
“Your commitment to advocating the role of S&T in the Philippines particularly in this challenging time is commendable. The Philippines has been a proactive champion of STI discussion in the UN and has previously chaired the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development and its effort in STI in this time is commendable,” said Dr. Sirimanne.
Dr. Sirimanne recognized the importance of international collaboration to address the digital divide.
In closing the ceremony, Secretary de la Peña then formally opened the 2020 NSTW virtual exhibit. The virtual exhibit features the innovations and technologies under the 4Ks of NSTW that stands for: Kalusugan, Kabuhayan, Kaayusan, at Kinabukasan.
The NSTW will run from 23 to 29 November 2020. The DOST, the different agencies, and regional offices are holding several activities such as virtual fora, workshops, career talks, technology and project launchings, and film showings. Know more about the 2020 NSTW by visiting www.nstw.dost.gov.ph and the official NSTW Facebook page. (S&T media service, Jachin Aberilla)