The University of the Philippines (UP) and its academic community congratulate Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, outgoing UP Manila Chancellor and Outstanding Alumna, on being conferred the Order of National Scientist by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., in a ceremony held on August 31, 2023, at the Malacañang Palace. Dr. Padilla was honored especially for her pioneering work as a world renowned clinical geneticist and on newborn screening in the Philippines, and for the establishment of the UP Philippine Genome Center (UP PCG).
Administered by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the Order of National Scientist Award (Orden ng Gawad ng Pambansang Alagad ng Agham) is the highest national recognition given to a scientist in the Philippines. It is conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation of the NAST.
Currently, there are 43 distinguished Filipinos who hold the title of National Scientists of the Philippines, with Dr. Padilla as the 43rd as well as the 40th who are UP alumni. She is also the 10th from UP Manila, and the third UP Manila Chancellor to be conferred the title. Dr. Padilla is the first National Scientist to have expertise in the field of medical genetics, as well as the only living female National Scientist in the health sciences.
Dr. Padilla is recognized for her significant contribution to the field of clinical genetics in the Philippines. Her notable studies were conducted on the prevalence and cost-benefits analysis of a national program for newborn screening to prevent mental retardation and death from certain congenital disorders detectable at birth. It is due to her research that newborn screening is being implemented in over 7,400 health facilities in the Philippines to date, saving countless babies from mental retardation and death.
Dr. Padilla also made very important contributions in the field of genomics with the establishment of the UP PGC as a multidisciplinary institution that combines basic and applied research for the development of health diagnostics, therapeutics, DNA forensics, preventive products, and for the improvement of crop varieties in the country. She served as the Executive Director of the UP PGC from 2011 to 2016, during which she oversaw the critical growth phases of the institution that eventually played a major role in the national government’s public health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She also led the establishment of various medical and laboratory facilities, such as: the Genetic Laboratories at the UP Manila National Institute of Health (UPM NIH); the Cytogenetics Laboratories that was originally at the UP Philippine General Hospital (UP PGH) in 1991 and eventually moved to the UPM NIH in 1997; the Newborn Screening Center (1997); the Molecular Genetics Laboratory (2001); the Biochemistry Laboratory (2001); the Micro Array Laboratory (2010); and the Hemoglobinopathy Laboratory (2014). All of these laboratories cater to patients of the UP PGH and other hospitals around the country.
Dr. Padilla has been a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST PHL) since 2008 as an Academician in the Health Sciences Division.
The University proudly celebrates this special award for one of its distinguished UP alumni, acknowledging Dr. Padilla not only for her contribution in genetics, her field of expertise, but also for inspiring many Filipinos to strive for excellence in their respective fields and careers while also being able to give back to the Filipino community. Dr. Padilla remains an exemplar of “a woman for others”, one who has played a vital role in the country’s progressive growth.