The strong resolve and efforts to create a Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are now starting to see progress as the House of Representatives approved its establishment on the 2nd week of March.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing and continuing recognition on the importance of virology. The vision of the DOST for a national virology institute starts to see realization through the legislative support. Being the first, the VIP will completely change the infectious disease research landscape in the country as it will serve as the leading research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in plants, animals, and humans.

The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) is fully supporting the establishment of the VIP and with this resolve, the Chair of the NRCP Division of Medical Sciences who also chairs the NRCP VIP Bill Ad Hoc Committee, Dr. Leslie Michelle M. Dalmacio, conceptualized the webinar series titled VISION 2021: VIrology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Information, Opportunities and Networking. The first series of the VISION 2021 Webinar was held on 29 April 2021, 9:00am to 12:00nn.

DOST Undersecretary for R&D, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara is behind the VIP establishment and she presented the framework and scope of the VIP. Four other member-researchers of NRCP discussed specific topics in virology, presented opportunities in the field, and promoted networking among key stakeholders in order to strengthen the creation of the VIP. The researchers of NRCP shared results of their virology researches in the fields of medical, agriculture, biomedical, and veterinary.

Research council virology experts strengthen the creation of Virology Institute

Dr. Dalmacio said that the NRCP is a stakeholder in the VIP and is in a position to inform the public about it. She encouraged the participation of NRCP members and the general public in discussions related to the VIP. “This is one of the visions of NRCP in 2021; a vision shared with DOST for the Filipino people who deserve products and policies born out of scientific endeavors for battling infectious disease”, she emphasized. On the other hand, NRCP Executive Director Marieta Banez Sumagaysay said that the VISION 2021 brings to the fore the many NRCP virology experts in the country. She added, “Basic research must be heightened and let’s give scientific inquiry, imagination, serendipity and even personal curiosity of our scientists and experts a chance to describe the world of viruses.”

The exciting researches of the NRCP members presented before a virtual audience of 477 (210 – Male, 267 – Female) included the following:

Exploring Phage-based Research Opportunities in the Philippine Context
Dr. Donna May Papa
NRCP Member, Biological Sciences Division
Assistant Professor, College of Science
University of Santo Tomas

The Role of Veterinary Virology in the ONE HEALTH MOVEMENT
Dr. Melbourne Rio Talactac
NRCP Member, Veterinary Sciences Division
Vice President for Research and Extension
Cavite State University - Main Campus

Virology Research for Philippine Agricultural Crops
Dr. Filomena Sta. Cruz
NRCP Member, Biological Sciences Division
Professor
Institute of Weed Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology
University of the Philippines Los Baños

Clinical Vaccine Trials for Viral Diseases…COVID-19 in Focus
Dr. Lulu C. Bravo
NRCP Member, Medical Sciences Division
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines
Philippine General Hospital – College of Medicine

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena delivered his message of support to the VIP establishment, while NRCP President Gregorio E.H. del Pilar officially opened the webinar. NRCP experts and members Dr. Roland G. Remenyi, Head of Biomedical Research Unit, The Medical City and Dr. Raymond Francis R. Sarmiento, Director, National Telehealth Center, UP-Manila served as rapporteur and master of ceremonies, respectively.

The VISION 2021 will have its second of a series of webinars on 26 May 2021.