Genome-Based Research

The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) declared that they will have full commitment to the improvement of genome-based research in the country. Their aim is to enhance and change health, drug discovery, forensics, agriculture and associated researches. During the symbolic launch of the Philippine Genome Center in Makati City. Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo stated that DoST will help to provide the infrastructures and the acquisition of technologies that will sustain the scientific and analytical processes including genome-based research. This will be possible thru the Balik Scientist Program where DoST will bring home top Filipino scientists, informaticians and engineers from all over the world to teach potential scholars and oversee genome-focused projects. Study grants came from the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and Philippine Council for Agriculture and Aquatic Research and Resources Development. DoST will maintain genomics research projects aligned with the priorities of the agency.

Montejo further stated that the process of translating genome-based research into solutions is a trans-disciplinary and multi-sectoral responsibility, involving collaboration across various scientific disciplines and linkages between academic and private sectors. A victorious scientific program requires not only a tough research component, but also the executive supervision that will supplement science and technology in a broader context. The DoST will assist the genomics study, building bridges between academe, policymakers and private sector. The agency’s mission is to integrate genomic knowledge with concrete products and applications that will improve the quality of life and advance socio-economic conditions in the country; creation of scientifically-informed policies that will cater to needs and interests of the Filipino; formation of regulatory schemes that will preserve the ethical and intellectual integrity of genome-based research and technology transfer; and elevation of public awareness of genomics, its applications and legal and social issues surrounding it. The genomics thrust of the DoST lies on programs in health, agriculture, livestock, fisheries and biodiversity. He said the DoST will provide funds to support health researches on infectious diseases such as dengue, TB, and AH1N1 and non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to create diagnostic kits, vaccines, and Filipinized medicine.

The following VIPs attended the symbolic launch: Dr. Carmencita David Padilla, Executive Director of Philippine Genome Center, Alfredo Pascual, University of the Philippines (UP) President; Lap-Chee Tsui from University of Hong Kong ; Dr. Yuan-Tsong Chen of Academia Sinica; Dr. Edison Liu of Genome Institute of Singapore; Dr. Michael Purugganan of New York University; Dr. Hans-Hilger Ropers of Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and Dr. Sumio Sugano of University of Tokyo. Genomic studies will also focus on endemic crops, staples, bio-products, fisheries, and livestock to enhance agricultural production. Bioenergy production is next in line.

 We find ourselves standing at a breakpoint in scientific history, an era of post-genome biology; and it is time for us to realize that we are all stakeholders in the scientific pursuit to unravel the molecular tapestry of life through genomic exploration. With the combined efforts of academia, the Philippine government and the private sector, we aspire to build a world-class resource center that will not only generate cutting -edge scientific discovery, but also foster the country’s national well-being, Montejo said.

Montejo commended the significant role of the International Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by Prof. Lap Chee Tsui, President of the University of HongKong, in the improvement of genetics in the world. The International Scientific Advisory Board is composed of top geneticists in the world, who agreed to help boost national intellectual capacity by establishing a partnership with the Philippine Genome Center. The Philippine Genome Center is a multidisciplinary institution that will merge basic and applied research for the progress of health diagnostics, therapeutics, DNA forensics and preventive products. [via mb.com.ph]