The Philippine Genome Center (PGC) inaugurated its building on September 11, nine years after the Center was established by the UP Board of Regents in July 2009. According to UP President Danilo Concepcion, the structure is just the first phase and the second building behind it is still being completed.
Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña and Commission on Higher Education Officer-in-Charge J. Prospero de Vera III, representing the agencies that have been giving tremendous support to the PGC, celebrated the occasion with the University.
Because of these partnerships, Concepcion pointed out that the PGC is the best testimonial to the spirit of “bayanihan,” the Filipino value of working as a united community to reach a goal or complete a task.
The five-level building contains facilities for DNA sequencing and bioinformatics as the Center conducts research in the following areas: health; agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry; biodiversity and ethnicity; and, computational genomics and systems biology.
One of the products of PGC research is Biotek-M, a dengue detection kit which won a gold medal at the Salon International des Inventions de Genève (International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva) early this year. It is accurate, rapid, and affordable.
Concepcion and UP Manila (UPM) Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, who was the PGC executive director from 2011 to 2016, revealed during the program that the equipment cost more than the construction of the building.
In a tour of the facilities, PGC Executive Director Cynthia Saloma said that the equipment requires special conditions for their care and maintenance. Adhering to these requirements, in turn, ensures testing accuracy and data security.
The event acknowledged the five women who made the establishment of the PGC possible: Dr. Emerlinda Roman, who was then UP president, and the committee she tasked to study the feasibility of putting it up, led by Dr. Amelia Guevara, then UP vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Gisela Concepcion of the UP Diliman (UPD) Marine Science Institute; Dr. Padilla of the UPM College of Medicine; and, Dr. Saloma of the UPD National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
Former UP president, Alfredo Pascual, who succeeded Roman and preceded Concepcion, recognized the impact and value of the PGC when he came in as university leader in 2011, prompting him to prioritize the initiative as part of his strategic plan.
Concepcion remarked that he sees the PGC as an important partner of the soon to be established UP Cancer Research Center, a key component of UP Philippine General Hospital-Diliman, one of his administration’s flagship projects.
Throughout the event, it was emphasized that the PGC was created not for the University, but for the country, the reason for its name. The Center’s motto, “Genomics for a better Philippines”, is also embodied in its activities, such as sequencing services, training programs and workshops, collaborative research, and programs for senior high school students, among others.
Both dela Peña and de Vera expressed their agencies’ continued support of the PGC, especially for the development of future scientists and the conduct of meaningful research to address society’s needs. (Arlyn VCD Palisoc Romualdo, UP MPRO)