DOST scholars run Asean’s first nutrient-testing lab

04:43 PM December 13, 2018

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena (3rd from left) and Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara (5th from right), together with Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) Director Dr. Mario V. Capanzana (5th from left), with MetaMetrics staff after a recent ocular visit to the first specialty laboratory for nutrient testing in the Asean region.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has shown time and again that investing in programs to develop the country’s human capital will prove beneficial in the long run.

For instance, the decades-old Balik Scientist Program (BSP) and Science and Technology Scholarship Program have put the country in the position of being the Asean hub for nutrient testing by producing the experts that are capable of running such specialty laboratory.



“By institutionalizing programs such as the BSP and the scholarship scheme for poor but deserving students, the DOST is helping secure a future where public and private institutions can rely on a steady pool of highly skilled talent that they can tap even for specialized activities and business ventures,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Pena.

One project that directly benefited from DOST’s BSP and scholarship program is the recently launched MetaMetrics, the first specialty laboratory for nutrient testing in the Asean region.


MetaMetrics, strategically located on Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City, is a Department of Health (DOH)-registered specialty clinical laboratory that provides the most comprehensive line of micronutrient and macronutrient testing. The laboratory provides testing for cellular levels of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and amino acids to determine nutrient deficiency or toxicity.

MetaMetrics is headed by Dr. Charina De Silva, a Balik Scientist awardee in 1998. The MetaMetrics Laboratory Director obtained her doctorate degree in Bioanalytical Chemistry at University of Florida. She was also a graduate of the DOST-funded Philippine Science High School and a recipient of DOST scholarship while obtaining her BS Chemistry degree. She is determined to “give back” and transfer the expertise she mastered from abroad for the development of the country.

MetaMetrics personnel Mary Rose Fariscal and Carl Rogel Inocentes, meanwhile, were recipients of DOST scholarship grants under Republic Act 7687 from 2007 to 2011 and 2008 to 2012, respectively.



“Mary Rose and I were both financially challenged in college, and through DOST scholarship, we were able to complete our Biochemistry/Chemistry degree from the University of the Philippines,” Inocentes shared.

Also, Meryl Christina Reyes and Jan Kathryne Garcia, both MetaMetrics chemists, were able to enhance their skills and research capabilities as Science Research Specialists for DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD)-funded projects.

“These DOST-funded projects allowed us to acquire technical skills in handling current laboratory instruments, giving us competitive advantage for the nutrient laboratory,” Reyes said.

The Balik Scientist Program was established in 1975 “to encourage highly trained overseas Filipino scientists and technologists, experts and professionals to return to the Philippines and share their expertise for the acceleration of the scientific, agro-industrial and economic development of the country.”



Dr. De Silva added: “The highly technical team of MetaMetrics Laboratory has benefited from the various scholarship and programs of DOST. As the first specialty diagnostics for nutrient and environmental testing in the Asean region, MetaMetrics Laboratory require highly competent personnel to conduct specialized tests. Through DOST programs, the chemists of the laboratory gainedappropriate education, training, technical capability and technology adoption was possible,” Dr. De Silva said.

Other services offered by MetaMetrics include testing for heavy metal toxicity, food and inhalant allergies and food sensitivities.

The laboratory is equipped with the most advanced instruments and cutting-edge technologies on a par with the best in Europe and the US.

“We use validated analytical methods that require intensive sample preparation and meticulous testing methods, all of these performed by highly competent and internationally trained staff. Our tests help clinicians in providing actionable and targeted interventions to optimize health, prevent disease and support medical management of diseases through nutritional intervention, diet modification and reduction of environmental influences,” Dr. De Silva said.

BAGUIO CITY -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Cordillera, at this time, is not yet doing a research on the medicinal quality of marijuana, DOST Regional Director Nancy Bantog told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Monday. “Wala pa akong naririnig sa agency namin,” she said on ongoing researches about marijuana, which was abundant in the Cordillera based on the number of plantations already raided by authorities. House Bill 6517 or the Act Providing Filipinos Right of Access to Medical Marijuana was filed by Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano in June. Bantog, however, said the problem now is the absence of a protocol for research on marijuana. “Kailangan hanapin namin ang protocol ng office kasi regulated yan. One thing, it is a regulated material, sino ba ang dapat gumawa ng research? Is it just anybody doing a research, or will there be a specific institution? Yun siguro ang dapat in place and I still have to verify pa (We need to find out if the office [DOST] has a protocol because it is a regulated material. Who should do the research? Is it just anybody or an institution should do it, I will still verify),” she said. Bantog cited, though, that the DOST has a research arm and one of the thrusts of the DOST-Cordillera is health, the reason it could do the research as long as it is guided by a protocol. “Wala tayong control kung may magsa-submit sa amin. But from our end, we need to refer that to the higher authorities kung ano ang protocol natin,” she said. Aside from the DOST, the Department of Health (DOH) also has a research component. But Bantog said she has no idea if there are plans to research on marijuana's medicinal uses. (PNA)

Estrella Gallardo


DOST S&T NOOK TURNOVER. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña turns over DOST's science and technology (S&T) nook to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez during the "Innovation Partners: DTI and DOST" event held at the 3M Philippines Office in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on Thursday (April 5, 2018). The S&T kiosk contains promotional materials on DOST knowledge products and services, which will help synchronize DOST and DTI efforts in promoting and marketing S&T products in the market. Also in photo are DOST Undersecretary Brenda Nazareth-Manzano (2nd from left), DTI Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya (3rd from right), DOST Region 2 Director Sancho Mabborang (2nd from right), and 3M Philippines president and managing director Ariel Lacsamana (right). (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on 3rd and final reading a bill that would establish a National Integrated Cancer Control Program.

Lawmakers gave their nod to House Bill (HB) 8626 on Monday, December 3, with a vote of 198-0-0.


The measure seeks to create a national, comprehensive program that would serve as a framework for all cancer-related activities of the government.

This includes programs aimed at providing affordable and accessible cancer treatment and care for all patients, decreasing the overall mortality and impact of all adult and childhood cancer cases, lessening the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children, preventing the recurrence of cancer, and eliminating various forms of "burden" on cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

What are the highlights of the bill? HB 8626 would create a National Integrated Cancer Control Advisory Council, which shall act as the recommendatory body for policy matters regarding cancer control. The Department of Health (DOH) secretary or any official with a rank not lower than assistant secretary would chair this council.

Other members include the secretaries or designated representatives of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of the Interior and Local Government, the chairperson or representative of the Commission on Higher Education, president or representative of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and the director general or representative of the Food and Drug Administration.

Other council members would include 3 medical doctors who have "distinguished themselves professionally in public, civic, or academic service in the field of oncology" and who have at least 10 years of active service. Two council members would also come from cancer-focused patient support organizations.

The bill would also create a Cancer Assistance Fund, which would be used to support the medicine and treatment assessment program for cancer patients. The DOH would be managing this fund.

What happens now? The Senate already passed its version of the measure last November. This means the bill will now go to the bicameral conference committee level, where lawmakers will have to reconcile conflicting provisions in the House and Senate versions. –

Gene V. Baquiran

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, April 6 (PIA) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Cagayan Valley Region announced that the agency is now ready to share its technology for processing agricultural products to local processors.

Rose Mary Aquino, regional technical director, said, “With the number of products developed by the DA regional office, we now encouraged local processors or product manufacturers or distributors to adopt these products.”

She said developed products that were already in the market include corn-processed products such as gourmix, café bagga, maize silky sip and cracknik.

She added that these products displayed at their Agribusiness Development Centers and at stores in DA's different research stations regionwide aim to promote its technology and  encourage interested manufacturers and distributors.

Aquino, however, clarified that DA is not competing with other food manufactures and processors.

She said that DA is ready to work with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other agencies to help farmers become more productive through value-added activities.

She also assured that DA will continue to develop technologies in processing different kinds of agricultural products through the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD), Research Division, Integrated Laboratory Division, Regulatory Division, Banner Programs and Research Centers/Experiment Stations. (ALM/GVB/PIA-2 Cagayan)

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