Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo, in his address during the launching of the Philippine Genomics Center in Shangri-la Hotel Makati City, last November 28, 2011, said that DOST will focus its genomics program on health, agriculture, livestock, fisheries and biodiversity.
Genomics, a flagship program of DOST, can be a “game-changing tool that could offer enormous rewards to our people,” according to Secretary Montejo.
Genomics is a science concerned with the study of the genomes or the complete set of genes in an organism. A goal in genomics is the sequencing of the genome of the whole organism which may lead to applications in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and bio-processing.
Sec. Montejo said that DOST will provide funding support on health researches on diseases such as dengue, TB, AH1N1, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and genomic studies on endemic crops, staples, bio-products fisheries and livestock to significantly enhance agricultural production.
Current initiatives in genomics include improving the brood stock for the cultured bangus and tilapia, fighting bunchy top virus affecting abaca, and addressing the dreaded Panama disease now affecting banana growers in Mindanao, Montejo said.
Montejo emphasized in his speech that translating genome-based research into practical solution is trans-disciplinary and multi-sectoral responsibility. It involves intricate collaboration across scientific disciplines and linkages between public research and development institutions, policy makers, academe and industry sectors.
“Putting together a cohesive genomics initiative in a developing country, however, is no easy task. It requires a critical mass of scientists and experts to develop a sustainable program, and appropriate resources to support the operational and infrastructure demands of research and development,“ he said.
To achieve critical mass of scientists and experts, DOST embarks on Balik Scientist Program that will bring home top Filipino scientists, informatics experts and engineers now working outside the Philippines to mentor domestic scholars and supervise genome-related projects. DOST will also support genomics research projects aligned with development priorities through grants from its councils such as Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, Philippine Council on Health Research and Development, and Philippine Council on Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development. (Luisa Lumioan, S&T Media Service)