The 21st anniversary conference of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila), held in partnership with the UP Manila Technology Transfer and Business Development Office (TTBDO), focused on the objective of turning health research into innovative products, policies and solutions for the benefit of society. It was held on February 28 at the Bayanihan Center, UNILAB Inc. complex, Pasig City.
Keynote and plenary speakers during the day-long scientific conference discussed the many processes, factors, lessons and examples concerning the theme, “Lab to Life: Translating Health Research for Filipinos”. Their presentations encouraged meaningful collaboration among research institutions and study groups from various disciplines, government agencies and corporations in order to impact national policies, protect intellectual properties of researchers and institutions, improve existing products and services, and promote advancements or new solutions that are commercially viable through innovations in research and technology transfer.
UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita D. Padilla urged the participants to keep translating research into life-saving policies, devices, or products, given the many challenges faced, especially in the field of health. Noticing that the top diseases in the country have been the same for more than six decades, she said that closer partnerships with corporations and entrepreneurs, as well as related government agencies, such as the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), are needed.
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion assured the NIH of his administration’s full support, adding that a more vibrant and interdisciplinary collaboration between industry, academe, government and UP alumni around the world would yield more and better research output that can immediately be utilized to solve the woes of Filipinos. He said UP alumni, especially those who had become research chiefs abroad, could provide the country with the needed assistance and expertise. He also encouraged the NIH, with the help of partner government agencies, to aim for a Nobel Prize nomination.
DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara delivered the keynote message at the event. She discussed the current state of Filipino health science research and innovation, the National Unified Health Research Agenda 2017-2022, and the Harmonized National Research and Development Agenda 2017-2022 as pathways leading to the realization of a decent and comfortable life for every Filipino in the future. One of the main points she raised was the focusing of the efforts of Research and Development to have social and economic impact to improve the people’s quality of life. These include managing research initiatives and logistics for: diagnostics, drug discovery and development, functional foods, nutrition and food safety, hospital equipment and biomedical devices, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, information and communication technology, and molecular technologies for health.
The officials then proceeded to the Bayanihan lobby for the ceremonial opening of the poster exhibits.
Plenary discussions on translational research and technology transfer by Dr. David Simmons, a counsellor from the World Intellectual Property Organization, and Carmen G. Peralta, a consultant from the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, followed.
The panel discussions held in the afternoon featured thematic lectures to further educate and inspire the participants of the day-long conference.
The first panel discussion was by: Dr. Nilo T. Bugtai, head of the Biomedical Devices Innovation and e-Health Research Group of the De La Salle University (DLSU); Michael Jorge N. Peralta of the Office of the Vice-Rector for Research and Innovation of the University of Santo Tomas (UST); and, Ace C. Acosta, commercialisation manager of Slipstream Commercialisation and Innovation Liberation Front. Their presentations explained key factors and processes in the creation of socially beneficial ideas and inventions.
The second set of panelists talked about the importance of partnerships with industry experts in developing, optimizing and marketing products. Sharing the lessons they learned from working together with representatives from the health industry and the academe were: Jose Maria Ochave, senior vice president for the Business Development Group of United Laboratories and president of Ritemed Philippines; Prof. Bienvenido S. Balotro of the Department of Industrial Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, UP Manila; and, Dr. Lorraine Hermosura-Faeldon, chief medical officer and co-founder of Valea Health.
Patricia San Jose, technology transfer officer of TTBDO UP Manila, and Jerry G. Ligaya, director of the Technology Licensing Office of the Technological University of the Philippines (TUP), emphasized protecting patents and intellectual property rights first before publishing research output.
The next set of panelists, made up of: Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD)-DOST; Jasper P. Araña, technology transfer officer of the Innovation and Technology Support Office of Adamson University; Gia Santos, CEO and co-founder of Valea Health; and, Dr. Erna C. Arollado, director of the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of NIH, presented some of the biomedical technologies, products and innovations their institutions were developing for the public. Among these are: researches on surgical robotics, advanced medical tools, Internet of Medical Things (IOMT), behavioral change technology, drug delivery, and herbal and non-invasive treatments for diseases. Many of these were also exhibited as the subjects of research abstracts and teaser posters at the lobby.
The fifth and last panel discussion provided participants with inspiration and examples for creating or developing enabling environments for innovative works. Maria Christina L. Ibañez, Innovation Resource manager of the Miriam Innovation Center, presented how her college prepares their students, from basic to higher education levels, to excel in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). Dr. Ricardo DT Quintos II, a professor at the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, UP Manila, encouraged the public to create a culture of innovation, to look for better ways of doing tasks or helping people, and for the University to become capable of managing the intellectual capital being generated through continuous research and development. Dr. Gonzalo Serafica, a DOST balik-scientist, Science and Technology Ecosystem Builder, and a consultant of UP, DLSU, and USAID STRIDE (United States Agency for International Development-Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development program), shared lessons gained from his experiences as a scientist and entrepreneur. He also discussed how research is successfully translated and commercialized for the benefit of society.