Saturday, June 27, 2015

VYLH, GeneSoc attend NAST-PHL RTD on Folic Acid

by Ryan Pascual (Regulon)

“We need folic acid.”
Participants of the NAST-DOST RTD on Folic Acid
(Photo: NAST-DOST)

Those were the words mentioned by UP Manila Vice-Chancellor for Research Dr. Eva Cutiongco-de la Paz as she concluded the Round Table Discussion (RTD) on Folic Acid hosted by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) last June 23, 2015 at Hotel Jen Manila

The RTD on Folic acid focused on the importance of taking enough folic acid by all women in the reproductive age. Folic acid is a B-vitamin (Vitamin B6) that is important in the prevention of neural tube defects (NTDs) or problems in the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. It is recommended that all women in the reproductive age need 400 micrograms of the vitamin per day, while the dose increases by ten times for high-risk mothers such as those who had a child with an NTD (4,000 micrograms/day). 

Dr. Carmencita Padilla presenting the highlights of the
proposed bill on Folic acid supplementation and
mandatory fortification (Photo:NAST-DOST)
According to a NAST release, “the RTD acknowledged the role of different sectors in the drafting of the policy on Folic acid supplementation and food fortification”. In the RTD, invited experts discussed the burden of neural defects; the importance of folic acid supplementation to avoid NTDs; and the current local and global programs in food fortification. 

Highlights of the proposed legislation on folic acid, “An Act Establishing a Comprehensive Policy on achieving adequate intake of Folic acid through Fortification and Supplementation” were also presented in the RTD by NAST Academician and UP Manila Chancellor Dr. Carmencita Padilla. In her presentation, Dr. Padilla mentioned that “there are already many efforts addressing folic acid deficiency that only require coordination and support of policy…and when the bill will be passed, there are other challenges in implementing and monitoring it, but it is important to already start in crafting it (the bill)”. Dr. Padilla, also the focal person of the RTD, asked the audience to give their inputs and support to the bill. 

As representatives of the youth, members of VYLH-Philippines and The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) joined the Folic acid RTD. Aside from newborn screening promotion and rare disorder support, both organizations are involved in the campaign on increasing public awareness, especially among women in the reproductive age, on the importance of folic acid and its role on preventing neural tube defects.(RPascual; with reports from NAST-DOST)

The UPLB GeneSoc extends its gratitude to NAST-DOST for considering the organization as one of the youth representatives invited to this event. This article was first published in Youth for Health, the Official Publication of VYLH-Philippines.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Latest Hibiscus hybrid Honors GeneSoc Honorary Member and UPM Chancellor

Written by Merc Emil Matienzo (Riboswitch)

Photo: Blogspot | VYLH Philippines

Scientists from the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) of the College of Agriculture, UPLB named their newest Hibiscus hybrid after the current UP Manila Chancellor and GeneSoc Honorary Member Dr. Carmencita David-Padilla.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Carmencita David-Padilla’, official name of the gumamela hybrid, is part of the series of Hibiscus hybrids named after outstanding women Academicians and National Scientists elected to the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST)1.

The presentation to the public of the newly-produced Hibiscus hybrid was conducted last June 22, 2015 at UP Manila Museum of a History of Ideas. Along with the scientists from IPB, UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez Jr. and several UPLB Staff and students also attended the said event which is also a part of the week-long Investiture celebration of Dr. Padilla as the 9th Chancellor of UP Manila.

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Why You Should NOT Consider Diving Into The Gene Pool

Written by Rochelle B. Sarmiento (Polylinker)
News/Feature Writer
You have thought about it. Even once, it has crossed your mind as to whether or not you will join an organization during your stay in the university. You might have even gone to org orientations solely for their free dinners.  You listened to several members strive to make a dent on your neurons as they give their seemingly convincing testimonials with the intent to get you hooked into their beloved organizations in the near future. And perhaps, after attending a number of these orientations, you thought about putting up a list of orgs-to-join, ranked based on who served the best free food and gave the most utterly expressive yet encouraging talks.

Well, this time, you wouldn’t have to walk miles to attend GeneSoc’s orientations. At the comfort of the chair you’re sitting on, let us mull over five reasons why you shouldn’t consider drafting GeneSoc into your list of orgs-to-join—why you shouldn’t consider, what we call, diving into the gene pool.

That’s it! May these five realities help you decide if you really aspire to dive into the gene pool of brilliance, passion, and excellence. Do not act like a pyruvate, which can never decide if it will become acetyl CoA, oxaloacetate, alanine, lactate or ethanol. After all, the final verdict is yours.

But if you’re going to ask me why GeneSoc? Why not.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

4 UPLB students to represent PH in Airlangga Summer Camp 2015

Written by Merc Emil Matienzo (Riboswitch)

Glen Aldrix Anarna (BS Biology ’13), John Carlo Motas (BS Applied Mathematics ’13), Isabel Kristine Valdez (BS Biology ’12), Alyssa Louise Uy (BS Biology ‘12), all from the College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Banos, are among the 20 student participants chosen worldwide for the Airlangga Summer Camp 2015 to be held in Surabaya, Indonesia on July 26 to August 1, 2015.

A total of five Filipinos actually made it through the selection process who will then receive a fully-waived program fee inclusive of free accommodation, meals, and transportation with cultural and field trips.

Melissa Claire I. Barrera of University of the Philippines Mindanao completed the country’s representatives to the Airlangga Summer Camp 2015.

This year’s theme for the said program “Creative Industry in Facing Global Challenges” aims to promote the creative industry of Indonesia with emphasis on Batik home industry, hand crafting of recycled goods, and knitted ware industry. It will also focus on the utilization of human creativity in producing widely acceptable products globally with less consumption of natural resources as well as increasing the benefits of recyclable goods.

Interactive classes, workshop visits and field trips to some Small Medium Enterprise (SME) workshops around the city of Surabaya, and a cultural trip await the participants of the Airlangga Summer Camp 2015.

Meanwhile, the countries whose delegates will be joining with the Philippines are Malaysia (6), Cambodia (5), Singapore (2), Vietnam (1), and United Kingdom (1).

Photo: Facebook | International Office and Partnership Universitas Airlangga

Prof. Socrates Letana talks on the prospects of PHL Forensic Dipterology

by Ryan Pascual (Regulon)

As part of the UPLB-MNH Biodiversity Seminar Series,  Professor Socrates Letana of the Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines Diliman gave a talk on the prospects of Forensic Dipterology in the Philippines at the UPLB Museum of Natural History last June 17, 2015. 

Prof. Socrates Letana (left) receiving a certificate of appreciation from
Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzales, Director of UPLB MNH (right).
Photos: UPLB-MNH
Forensic entomology is the field of science that covers the use of insects and other arthropods in forensic investigations. One of its sub-specializations is forensic dipterology which focuses on the insects from the Order Diptera. The blow flies (Calliphoridae), flesh flies (Sarcophagidae), and house flies (Muscidae) are some of the popular species known from this order. These insect species are important in forensic investigations since they prefer to lay eggs on corpses. The particular stage development of the fly eggs in the corpse is widely used in the determination of the post-mortem interval (PMI) or the time between death and the discovery of the body. Recent application of modern techniques in the field include DNA barcoding of insects for species identification, DNA profiling of insect gut contents, and toxicological analysis (entomotoxicology). 

Much is still needed to develop the potential of this field in the Philippines, one of which is the study of Philippine species relevant in forensic analysis. There is also a need for capacity building since  the number of specialists that can support the field is still low particularly in government institutions involved in forensics. 

The former IBS instructor completed his undergraduate degree in Biology (Major in Systematics, 2000) and Master's degree in Entomology (2011) in UPLB. Prof. Letana (Triploid) is also an alumnus of The UPLB Genetics Society.

IN PHOTOS: UPLB MNH Biodiversity Seminar on "Prospects of Forensic Dipterology in the Philippines" on 17 June by Soc Letana of Institute of Biology, UP Diliman