Infectious disease symposium brings together PH, UK Genomics experts

| Written by MPRO_admin

Philippine Genome Center Director Cynthia Saloma (2nd from left) with the afternoon session's presenters (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)
Philippine Genome Center Director Cynthia Saloma (2nd from left) with the afternoon session’s presenters (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)

 

Experts from across the world gathered at the UP Diliman Institute of Biology Auditorium and the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) on November 5 and 8, 2018 for the multidisciplinary symposium , “Genomic Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases 2018” (GEID 2018). The symposium brought together researchers from the Philippines and the United Kingdom to discuss how cutting-edge advances in ‘omics science can be applied by Filipinos to the study of infectious diseases and used in the service of the country.

‘Omics refers to the collective technologies used to interpret, investigate the functions and interactions of the different molecules, such as DNA and RNA, that constitute an organism’s cells. The two segments of the workshop tackled unique dimensions of ‘omics applications, with Day 1 covering the broader applications of omics in studying infectious diseases and Day 2 tackling specific ‘omics applications in viral outbreaks, like Zika, and in the sequencing of parasite genomes.

The symposium was made possible through the partnership of the Philippine Genome Center with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the British Council’s Newton Fund and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

 

Dr. Stephane Hue of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine talks about HIV genomics (Photo by UP MPRO)
Dr. Stephane Hue of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine talks about HIV genomics (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)

 

Sandwiched between the symposium’s two segments was a similarly themed workshop, which aimed to equip local researchers with sufficient knowledge on the relevance of ‘omics technologies in the surveillance, management and control of infectious diseases and their applications. It was attended by a mix of British and Philippine scholars and was open to the Philippine research and public health communities.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Benedict Maralit of the PGC’s DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics Core Facility (DSBF) lauded the groundbreaking nature of the symposium, it being only the second to be held in the PGC’s newly inaugurated home. He also thanked the LSHTM, who featured a contingent led by Emerging Infectious Disease expert, Martin Hibberd, for helping to create a better, more forward-looking symposium.

According to Maralit, the expertise of the LSHTM has allowed the PGC to expand from its initial focus on genomics, to tackle also “transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics”. “That in itself is exciting,” he said, while noting how the PGC’s collaborations with international partners have helped it to expose even K-12 students to emerging technologies that can shape the country’s future.

 

Participants of GEID 2018 pose for a group photograph (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)
Participants of GEID 2018 pose for a group photograph (Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO)

 

Speaking on behalf of UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Cynthia Rose Bautista, UP Office for International Linkages (UP OIL) Director Gil Jacinto lauded how the symposium and workshop facilitated the exchange of values and good practices in research, especially between UP and LSHTM.

“It is our privilege to have been inspired and guided by experts who are outstanding in their fields and at the same time passionate about improving lives through high quality, meaningful research,” Jacinto said. (Andre DP Encarnacion, UP MPRO)

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