3rd Talakayang HeaRT Beat: Fellowship in Epidemiology


For this month’s Talakayang HeaRT Beat press conference, we are featuring the DOST-PCHRD Fellowship in Epidemiology program!

Engage with DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Pena, DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya, our invited lead program implementer, program mentor, and fellow to know about their experiences in the fellowship and how it can impact Philippine healthcare.


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The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced Saturday, June 26, that it will unveil its three major health research projects under the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation (DRR-CCA) program of its Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).

The three DDR-CCA projects will be presented during the second Talakayang HeaRT Beat (Health Research and Technology) of 2021 on Monday, June 28 via Zoom.

In a statement issued to the media on Saturday, the DOST said one of the completed DRR-CCA projects is the development of ready-to-eat food products for children aged one to five years old in response to nutrition and food security concerns during disaster events.

“This research developed emergency food products that will address age-appropriate nutrient requirements of children. Enriched with essential micronutrients, the ready to eat food products are developed to treat possible nutritional deficiencies and acute malnutrition of children in events of disaster,” it said.

The second project that will be featured during the event is the development of microfluidic paper-based analytical devices (µPADS) for the detection of diarrhea causing pathogens in water.

“After the onset of disasters, water-borne diseases like diarrhea are among the most documented outbreaks caused by poor water quality. Recognizing the importance of monitoring water quality, this project developed a microfluidic paper-based analytical device or µPADs that can detect diarrhea-causing pathogens by assessing the water-quality after disaster events,” the DOST said.

“It uses the “lab-on-paper” concept which condenses the equipment, resources, personnel and time needed to obtain an accurate result,” it added.

The development of Health Index and Vulnerability Reduction System for Region 4B (D-HIVE 4B Capital) will be the third project to be unveiled.

“To increase resiliency of island provinces in the country, this project developed the eSalba system, a web-based and mobile application that aids emergency responders in making absolute decision during disasters and helps prepare the local government unit of Region 4B in health monitoring, route planning, defining optimal evacuation policies and adaptation measures in events of disaster,” the DOST said.

Included in the list of resource persons of the Talakayang HeaRT Beat are DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina Guevara, DOST Undersecretary for S&T Services Renato Solidum, PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya, and the DRR-CCA project leaders—Ms. Ma. Christina Ramos of Philippine Women’s College of Davao, Dr. Lori Shayne Busa of Nueva Vizcaya State University, and Dr. Delia B. Senoro of Mapua University.


Reference: https://mb.com.ph/2021/06/26/dost-to-unveil-3-health-research-breakthroughs-under-ddr-climate-change-adaptation-program/ 


The Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) announced the selected outstanding health research programs in 2021 during the 14th PNHRS Week Celebration last August 13, 2021.

The Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr. Outstanding Health Research Award (AROHRA) gives recognition to a research program or project that has demonstrated the link between research and practice through the utilization of research findings in the health delivery system. The award, given every three years, has two (2) categories, namely: Biomedical Research and Health Services Research. The winners of AROHRA will receive a trophy and a cash prize amounting to Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (PHP 500,000.00).

This year, the Molecular Diagnostics and Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory of the Lung Center of the Philippines won under the biomedical research category for their program entitled “Autologous Dendritic Cell Vaccine as Innovative Therapy for Cancer.” The said program, headed by Dr. Ma. Teresa Barzaga, offers a promising complementary therapy for cancer.


The program also gives patients an option for an innovative and safe therapy in a form of active immunotherapy using dendritic cells which is derived from patients’ own blood stem to trigger the immune response against the disease and poses minimal to zero adverse effects.

On the other hand, the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FNRI) won under the health services research category for their program entitled, “Malnutrition Reduction Program (MRP): Moving towards Sustained Implementation.” The MRP program, headed by Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, contributes to address the malnutrition problem among young children across the country especially in rural areas.

The two components of the program are technology transfer of complementary food or bringing the technology to the regions to address the supply side of the program which also generates livelihood for the local government units (LGUs) and state universities and colleges (SUCs) and the DOST PINOY (Package for the Improvement of Nutrition of Young Children) intervention strategy or the combining of feeding of rice-mongo-based complementary foods and nutrition education which creates the demand for the nutritious products. It is envisioned to be sustained and institutionalized in the LGUs.

Congratulations to the winners of 2021 AROHRA! We celebrate your programs, which have significantly contributed to addressing prevalent health issues in the country.

Source: https://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/news/6738-arohra-recognizes-outstanding-health-research-programs-for-2021 

The Best Mentor Award is awarded biennially to recognize 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 are selected per cluster (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR) and categorized according to their mentees (Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Junior/Early Career Researchers). For this year’s call, the following are the cluster winners per category:

Undergraduate Category




Rev. Fr. Alfredo V. Corpuz

University ofNorthern Philippines


Ms. Carol Joy P. Remaneses

Aklan State University



Graduate Category




Dr. Julius T. Capili

Cagayan State University


Dr. Rheajane A. Rosales

Samar State University


Dr. Mylene M. Uy

Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology


Dr. Agnes L. Castillo

University of Santo Tomas



Junior/Early Career Researchers Category




Dr. Jonel P. Saludes

University of San Agustin


Dr. Erna C. Arollado

UP Manila


The cluster winners will receive plaques of recognition and cash prizes amounting to either Fifty Thousand Pesos (Undergraduate and Graduate Category) or One Hundred Thousand Pesos (Junior/Early Career Researchers Category), depending on their category. 

The national winners per category will be selected among the cluster winners. The announcement of the national winners and the awarding of winners will be in March 2022 during the 40th PCHRD Anniversary Celebration.

Source: https://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/news/6739-pnhrs-recognizes-8-pinoy-researchers-as-2021-best-mentors-in-health-research 

Aiming to generate data on the efficacy of candidate vaccines against emerging variants of concern (VOCs) and determine the effective COVID-19 vaccines and doses that are suitable for the Filipino populationthe Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Health (DOH) and the University of the Philippines - Manila (UPM) officially launched the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial Vaccine (STV) in the country on 17 December 2021 via Zoom and Facebook live stream.

The clinical trial eyes to recruit a total of 15,000 Filipino volunteers from 20 identified sites and barangays with high COVID-19 attack rates across the National Capital Region (NCR). As of December 20,  2021, seven hospitals and two community-based sites have already conducted the recruitment activities with a total of 5,254 participants vaccinated with first dose and 3,142 participants already completed the two-dose schedule in the Philippines.


The WHO-STV is a clinical trial, which aims to study the efficacy and safety of candidate vaccines. Continuing to participate in vaccine clinical trials remains of utmost importance, especially as the current global vaccine supply is still limited,” explains Chair of the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection (TGVES) and DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development  Rowena Cristina Guevara on how the clinical trial is separate from the country’s ongoing vaccination program. 


Two of the four candidate vaccines is being initially studied: a spike adjuvanted vaccine developed by Medigen, and a DNA vaccine encoding the spike protein developed by Inovio, as identified by the WHO following the core protocol approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), DOST-convened Vaccine Expert Panel, and the Single Joint Research Ethics Board (SJREB). 


Our ultimate goal in DOST-PCHRD, and in the Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection, is to ensure that before any candidate vaccine reaches our communities, it has already shown evidence that it is safe, effective, and suitable for human trials,” DOST-PCHRD Dr. Jaime C. Montoya says. “As we begin to implement the WHO Solidarity Trial Vaccines, we, especially our Philippine STV team, are in need of the united support and assistance of every Filipino in ensuring a smooth implementation of the clinical trials. In the end, what is equally important as scientific research is the spirit of unity and volunteerism among our Filipino communities,” he adds.


Now that the vaccine trials are underway, we are hoping that the data we share with the other participants of the Solidarity Trials will contribute in finding more effective vaccines that can protect the Filipino people,” DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña says.


Led by the UPM-PGH, with support from the DOST and the DOH, the local clinical trial will serve as a contribution of the Philippines to the large-scale COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials headed by WHO. The trial has been launched in the Philippines, Mali and Colombia, while additional countries and vaccine candidates will follow shortly. 


Interim results of the local clinical trial may be available to the public by early 2022. 

Source: https://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/news/6737-dost-doh-and-upm-officially-launch-who-solidarity-trial-vaccine-in-ph 


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