“I am glad that I am back to dancing without knee pains,” said Ms. Estela Ababao, 64, when asked how Axis Knee System changed her life.
As Estela recalls, for 13 years before having knee problems, she never missed a day at the dance studio. Aside from being a way to relieve stress from a day of doing house chores, dancing is also her way to stay fit.
After developing degenerative arthritis five years ago, dancing became really challenging. Her movement became severely limited that even walking and climbing stairs was an arduous activity. According to Estela, the excruciating knee pains brought her sleepless nights which made her hopeless that she cannot go back to her favorite activity again.
One day while browsing through Facebook, Estela came across the Axis Knee System. She became interested with the implant because it is half the price of existing knee replacement implants in the market. What fascinated her more is the fact that the technology is locally made by a Filipino, Dr. Ramon Gustilo and Engr. Jude Sasing. The Axis Knee is made to fit the Asian knee-sized, thus, promises faster recovery. She did some research and found that she can get her surgery in The Medical City, Ortigas, Pasig City.
Last 25 January 2019, Estela underwent the knee replacement surgery using the Axis Knee System with the help of Dr. Herminio Valenzuela, Dr. Adriel Eulalio Guerrero, and Dr. Marie Antionette Dizon. A day after her surgery, Estela started her physical therapy which lasted for three months and she’s fully recovered within six months.
Now, Estela has been able to return to her zumba and ballroom dancing sessions without any knee-pains. “I am able to do what I do best without being restricted by pain,” she said.
Grateful that she was able to find an affordable, quality solution to her health problem, Estela salutes all Filipino inventors whose works are for the benefit of all. She said, “Maraming salamat sa mga Pilipinong imbentor. Ngayon alam ko na bakit mahalaga ang research.”
Currently, the Axis Knee System invented by Dr. Gustilo and Engr. Sasing is being manufactured by the Orthopaedic International, Inc., and continues to provide comfort to Filipinos around the country. The Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology supported the development of this technology to make life better for Filipinos.

The Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSSTER) will undergo enhancements to create a predictive model for COVID-19 which allows forecasting of possible cases in a given area at a specified period of time. Data generated from this model will support the decision making of the Department of Health, local government units, and healthcare facilities, in terms of resource planning and other measures to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Developed by Dr. Ma. Regina Justina E. Estuar of Ateneo de Manila University and her team, with support from the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), FASSSTER serves as a hub for different data sources, providing a rich layout of integrated information that facilitates understanding of the spread of diseases.

At the moment, FASSSTER is used for creating predictive models and visualizing possible scenarios of outbreaks of Dengue, Typhoid Fever, and Measles, at specified time periods. It uses data from the Department of Health’s Philippine Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (PIDSR) system, Electronic Medical Records, and SMS-based reports of primary care facilities.

The latest addition to the technology is its TUGON feature, an SMS-based reporting feature which allows staff from Rural Health Units and Barangay Health Stations to report cases of Dengue, Measles, and Typhoid Fever through text commands. 

To date, FASSSTER had been deployed and tested in the Department of Health Regional Office VI where 17 Rural Health Units (RHUs) have been trained in the use of the SMS-based reporting system for surveillance of Dengue, Typhoid Fever, and Measles.  

The study, “Is the Philippines ready for HIV self-testing?” led by Dr. Emmanuel Baja of the Institute of Clinical Epidemiology of the University of the Philippines - National Institutes of Health (UPNIH), shows that people at risk of acquiring the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are open to the idea of self testing, especially with the confidentiality and convenience it can offer. Although there are concerns on the regulatory policies for selling and purchasing HIV self-testing kits and policies required for its implementation which may contradict Republic Act No. 8504 (HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998) which requires HIV testing to be conducted only by a medical technologist, the approach is viewed as a valuable addition to the HIV testing strategy in the country. 

Recognizing the urgent need for early diagnosis and management as a preventive measure against HIV, the study aimed to analyze the prospective response of high-risk individuals to HIV self-testing (HIVST) as a potential approach in increasing the uptake of HIV testing services among Filipinos.

HIV Self Testing (HIVST) is an approach recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) "where a person collects his or her own specimen (oral fluid or blood) and then performs an HIV test and interprets the result, often in a private setting."  

HIVST may be able to address the low uptake of HIV testing in the country, raise better awareness on HIV, encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own health and reach a wider range of high-risk groups. 

The study was conducted as part of the HIV Gaming, Engaging, and Testing (HIV GET) Project of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) in collaboration with the University of the Philippines-Manila  under the Newton Agham Program of DOST-PCHRD and the Medical Research Council of the UK Government.

Rarely you can meet a scientist who is also an entrepreneur at the same time. But it might surprise you that our fellow Filipino, a woman, is not just a scientist but also a serial entrepreneur. 

Most scientists know that the road from lab bench to the marketplace is a difficult journey. Thus, only few would dare to take that road. 

For Dr. Cynthia Goh, a DOST-PCHRD Balik Scientist Program Awardee, knowledge translation is a very important process in research. She firmly believes knowledge not translated into something beneficial for the society is useless.

At a young age, Dr. Goh found her passion for science through a chemistry book. She became interested in understanding how atoms and molecules work together - which eventually led her to the path of becoming a scientist. Dr. Goh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines and a Ph.D. from the University of California. She has also conducted postdoctoral research at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. 

In 2012, Dr. Goh established the Impact Centre, an independent institute at the University of Toronto where academics and industry partners work together to accelerate the development of emerging products and services that will benefit society. This, according to her, is rooted from her passion for bringing technology to the low resource communities of the world. 

Four years after, Dr. Go became the academic director of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for her extensive knowledge, experience, and passion to ensure innovation and entrepreneurship become integrated into the University’s academic programs. 

Dr. Goh believes that a fundamental understanding of nature can lead to enormous benefits only if scientists take part in the process of knowledge translation.

In the past 15 years, she has launched seven companies in Toronto, one of which is Axela Inc., the leading Canadian life science company which provides a simple and effective approach to understanding protein-protein interactions. In 2006, her group has spun out ViveTM Nano, a Toronto-based firm that develops nanoparticle-based materials for a variety of fields such as catalysis and agriculture.

Ultimately, Dr. Goh’s current work as a Chemistry professor, entrepreneur, and academic director at the University of Toronto made her realize that she had to go back to the Philippines to help her fellow kababayans. The vehicle to implement this goal is the Balik Scientist Program (BSP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and she is working on health products, her BSP stint was carried under the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

“As a PCHRD Balik Scientist I had the opportunity to connect with many students and faculty, as well as with the community, to learn about their concerns and issues helping me design my next project on community-based innovation,” she said.

During her engagement under BSP, she was able to share her expertise on Medical Diagnostics, Physical Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Functional Foods, and Technopreneurship. This year, she will be coming back to the Philippines to collaborate with the UP-Manila Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (UPM-TTBDO) in their application for the establishment of the Philippines’ first health-focused technology business incubator.

As we celebrate the National Women’s Month this year, Dr. Goh’s passion and achievement in science remind us that we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, and improve situations. We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors, and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.

Written by: Catherine Dimailig
Contributor: CJ Gonzales

To help policymakers create better and evidence-based strategies in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino researchers are investigating the coronavirus transmission patterns among confirmed cases and their contacts in the country. 

A study is now underway which will yield data on transmission dynamics, secondary infection rate, and clinical attack rate of the disease among close contacts and symptomatic proportion of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

The study will use samples from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in its aim to supply the Department of Health useful data which can improve national efforts in case isolation, contact tracing, and disease control and prevention.

The project is led by Dr. Mayan U. Lumandas of RITM and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD). 

Aside from virus transmission patterns, three ongoing research projects on COVID-19 are also being supported by the Council, one of which is the COVID-19 detection kit created by the UP National Institutes of Health which is expected to be distributed to various healthcare facilities by the end of March. 

A web- and mobile-based surveillance and response tool called FASSSTER is also being enhanced to visualize real-time updates on the numbers of COVID-19-related information in the country. 

Lastly, DOST-PCHRD is also supporting research that tests the antiviral properties of lauric acid and its derivatives against coronavirus.

For more details on PCHRD-supported projects on COVID-19, you may visit www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph.


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