While spine surgeries used to be very long, risky, and bloody affairs, this need not be the case today. According to spine surgeon Dr. Rafael Bundoc of the University of the Philippines General Hospital (UP PGH), minimally invasive spine surgeries are now on the rise. With these advanced techniques, patients of UP PGH can go back to their homes and jobs after a few hours of rest and avoid the costs that come with long hospital stays.

Catching killers, identifying disaster victims, correctly analyzing microbes used in bioterrorism. All these and more are possible applications of Forensic Biology, a field that uses the biological sciences to answer legal questions. For the students of Bio 397, a one-of-a-kind class at the UP Institute of Biology, learning forensics not only boosts their scientific acumen but also helps them answer the fundamental question—what can science offer to society?

While news of giant clam poaching in the disputed Scarborough Shoal drew massive online outrage, it is far from the first wildlife exploitation story in our history. One serious challenge for local law enforcement in these cases has always been visually confirming the presence of our endemic species when specimens have been skinned, ground or similarly processed for the black market.

Luckily a team led by the UP Institute of Biology’s Ian Kendrich Fontanilla and the late Dean Perry Ong have locally pioneered a system called DNA barcoding, which utilizes the molecular fingerprint of genes to assist both scholarship and law enforcement in these tricky cases.

A new and more beautiful walkway linking UP Diliman’s Quezon Hall and the Main Library will rise very soon. In a historic agreement with the UP System, the Tau Alpha Fraternity have agreed to fund the construction of the path, together with the necessary benches and artworks, as their legacy project to commemorate their 90th anniversary.

The recent series of earthquakes hitting the country has renewed anxieties about the so-called ‘Big One’. Luckily, STAMINA4Space engineers from the UP EEEI recently unveiled Diwata-2’s amateur radio unit (ARU), which can be the country’s last line of communication in the face of major disasters.

While the country relies on strong partnerships with foreign universities to launch satellites like Diwata-2, the ultimate goal has been to build them here. This 2019, a new graduate program track launched at the UP Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute aims to train our country’s future crop of satellite builders in-house. The STeP-UP program expands the Institute’s Masters in Engineering program to include a track specializing in nanosatellite engineering. The program welcomed its first batch of scholars this year, and they plan to launch two cube satellites when they graduate—this time completely made and designed in the Philippines.

An international multidisciplinary team, led by University of the Philippines Associate Professor Armand Salvador B. Mijares, discovered a new human species, the Homo luzonensis, from an excavation site inside Callao Cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan.

“The study situates the Philippines as a major area for evolutionary research,” Mijares said. “This discovery, to me, is a dedication to the Filipino people. It is our contribution to Filipino heritage and to the world’s heritage.”

The power of art to draw cultures together was on full display at the opening of ‘Common Ground: A Ceramic Art Collaboration Between Israel and the Philippines’ last Thursday at the Corredor Gallery, UP College of Fine Arts. The exhibit, which runs until April 12, 2019, features the fruits of a series of talks and studio sessions with UP artists conducted by Israeli ceramicist Roy Maayan, that aims to create bridges between both countries.

Inspired by the work she did on a disease whose victims rarely reach the age of 30, UP Manila-based clinical geneticist and National Institutes of Health Executive Director Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz is using her knowledge of the Filipino’s genetic makeup to heal and manage serious birth defects and illnesses. And with the technology of a newly launched laboratory at the Philippine Genome Center behind her, this Dangal ng Bayan Awardee is ready to take the next step.