Tuesday, December 20, 2016

33 reasons why you will love GeneSoc more as it turns 33 today

Words by Joana Cruz (Cyclosome) 

1. It opened our eyes to the marvelous world of Sports Genetics. 

For Genetics Week 2016, GeneSoc highlighted the current advances of Genetics in the field of sports.

2. And invited Prof. Hercules Callanta of UPD’s College of Human Kinetics.

to discuss gene doping, the makings of a champion athlete, and the genetics of athletic performance

3. As well as high school students from Christian School International in Los Baños.

Video: facebook.com/GeneSoc1983/videos/10153873615691816/
to further emphasize that athleticism may be traced down to the interaction and expression of our genes, aside from the fact that it may be influenced by our discipline to hit the gym

4. GeneSoc members also read story books for the children of HOPE Intervention Center in Calamba, Laguna.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

7TH NIGQC, Huge Start for Genetics Week 2016

By Jerard Monge

NIGQC 2016 contest winners together with the contest judgest.

The 7th National Intercollegiate Genetics Quiz Contest (NIGQC) officially started The UPLB Genetics Society’s Genetics Week last November 5 at the UPLB NCAS Auditorium. With the theme “Breed and Transform: Genetics and Agriculture Towards Food Security and Sustainability,” NIGQC 2016 rose above its preceding installments with a seminar and a fresh twist to the quiz competition.

From L to R: NIGQC Head Rency Raquid, NIGQC 2016 Guest Speaker
Dr. B.P. Mallikarjuna Swamy of IRRI and GeneSoc President Merc Matienzo
Dr. Merlyn S. Mendioro, the current director of the Institute of Biological Sciences – UPLB and the senior adviser of The UPLB Genetics Society welcomed the participants prior to the Synapsis (Individual Exam) Round of the national quiz contest. Dr. Merlyn S. Mendioro was also among the judges of the quiz competition together with Dr. Ajay Kohli, Dr. Azucena L. Carpena, Dr. Christian Joseph R. Cumagun and Dr. Renato S.A. Vega.]

Following the Synapsis Round is a seminar by Dr. B. P. Mallikarjuna Swamy of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on harnessing rice science to develop rice varieties for better human nutrition.

Adding to the challenge of the previous installments of NIGQC is this year’s Genetic Drift Round wherein only five highly competitive teams with the highest garnered points were selected to compete from the Dogma Round. The five universities that qualified for the final round were University of Santo Tomas, Ateneo de Zamboanga University, University of the Philippines Baguio, Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines Manila.

Ateneo de Manila University bested the four qualifiers and copped the championship title, marking the university’s second win since 2013, followed by University of the Philippines Manila and University of the Philippines Baguio as the 1st and 2nd runner up, respectively. Ateneo de Manila University’s Francis Mart Angelo R. Legitimas was also awarded the highest individual top scorer of the Synapsis Round.

Ateneo de Manila University NIGQC 2016 Team

Schools that competed in NIGQC 2016 include Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle Lipa (DLSL), Far Eastern University (FEU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila (PUP Manila), Southern Luzon State University (SLSU), St. Scholastica’s College Manila (SSC Manila), University of the Philippines Baguio (UP Baguio), University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila), University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao), University of the Philippines Visayas (UP Visayas – Miag-ao), University of San Agustin (USA) and University of Santo Tomas (UST).#

The Badjaos: navigating on uncertain waters

By Jae Joseph Russell B. Rodriguez

In the mid-1960s, an American anthropologist named Harry Nimmo, lived among the Sama Dilaut or Badjaos of Tawi-Tawi. Then unislamized, they were still boat-dwellers and thrived on various methods of fishing. Nimmo studied the underlying social factors that led to their gradual shift to dwelling in houses on stilts. In his ethnographic book, he lamented on the loss of the boat-dwelling culture, the loss of one unique worldview, and ultimately a loss for humankind. Today the Badjaos have embraced Islam and the boat-dwelling culture is long gone in Tawi-Tawi. And as with any culture, change is still happening.

The Badjaos are an indigenous people (IP) which together with other ethnolinguistic groups constitute about 15% of the Philippine population. They have resisted centuries of colonial power, and thus have preserved their original way of life, their social structures, beliefs, livelihood, and art forms. Colonial regimes have left, but within the modern and independent Philippine state they are facing new threats to their existence. The “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” (IPRA) since October 29, 1997 has mandated the recognition and protection of the rights of IPs, yet stories of displacement, violence, exclusion to political decisions, loss of ancestral domains, environmental destruction, and lack of access to basic social services continue to reverberate. 

Displaced, illiterate and reduced to begging 
For centuries in the Sulu archipelago, the Badjaos lived along the margins of society, often considered as inferior to land people. As with other nomadic cultures, they had no permanent settlement and would rather leave with their boats rather than fight when driven away by land dwellers. Today, in search for better sources of livelihood and driven from wartorn regions of Mindanao, they have scattered all over the archipelago and are commonly sighted even in Manila. Countless Badjao families continue to live impoverished lives in urban streets as they also gradually lose their culture and identity, often regarded
as illiterate and beggars by their Filipino brothers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Meet the 2016 CAS Outstanding Student

by Rochelle B. Sarmiento (Polylinker)

When the midnight clock strikes at one, two days before an exam, he would sit on a black plastic chair beside the glass wall of a fastfood chain where students of various doses of sleep would flock, sometimes with other friends, other times alone. 

He would often be geared with a handful of photocopied readings and a thick book borrowed from the university library. Then some moments later, he would walk towards the counter and order one thing: a plain iced coffee. And occasionally, a familiar face would call him by his nickname, and he would smile wide. He might be proud of his almost perfect teeth. 

Gracing the smile
PJ, known to some of his friends and professors as the man who is fond of moderately infusing himself with caffeine, was recently conferred as the 2016 College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Outstanding Student with that same proud smile. This time, however, he was summoned by his full name, Paul Jhon P. Diezon, up on the stage of the CAS Auditorium, with this mother Janette who was equally, or even more than proud, but never arrogant, of her son. PJ received his award on the 18th of November, during the 44th CAS Foundation Anniversary Celebration Convocation and Awarding Ceremonies.
PJ Diezon smiles while holding his plaque of recognition; his proud mom is on his right side
Photo by Leann Suiton
Becoming a GeneSoc member
A BS Biology major in Cell and Molecular Biology student, PJ joined The UPLB Genetics Society in 2013 where he was elected as the editor-in-chief of GENEWS, GeneSoc’s official publication, for AY 2014-2015. He shared that his experiences as a GeneSoc member helped him improve not only his social skills, but his work ethics as well.

He also mentioned that GeneSoc was one of the reasons that he decided to run for the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council (CAS SC) under the slate of Samahan ng Kabataan Para Sa Bayan (SAKBAYAN). GeneSoc was among the 25 formations which established SAKBAYAN on July 1, 1996 as an alliance against the pressing issues on commercialization of education and campus repression. To date, SAKBAYAN remains as the widest alliance of student organizations, fraternities, and sororities throughout the University of the Philippines System, with 61 member-organizations and an affiliate alliance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Redefining Gene-by-Environment Interaction

by Rochelle Sarmiento 

Almost always in every Genetics-related lecture I have so far tried to comprehend, and, seemingly, fortunate to have understood, my professors would emphasize that the very traits being expressed by any organism are a product of the interplay of various genetic and environmental factors. In several instances, they would tell— one hand holding the microphone, a leg stancing forward, and eyes looking towards the sea of fascinated and uninterested students alike— that as an individual ages, the environment he is predisposed to would hugely play a role on what makes him basically him.

Such notion is a widely accepted and acknowledged pillar of the concepts in Genetics. And when conceptually applied to matters of prime and social relevance, it would also pose an equally worth noting idea: that our perspectives on certain issues in the society may be influenced by the surroundings we find ourselves in and the people we have the opportunity to interact with.

The Program

Take as an example the conduct of the K4Health Community Youth Training Program. True to the meaning of K4, Kabataang Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan, the primary aim of the said activity is to spark active participation among the youth towards sustainable improvement of the health of the people.

Having made its pilot and second implementations at the Municipality of Nampicuan in Nueva Ecija last June 7 to 9 and August 27 to 28, respectively, the program has been able to produce 27 volunteer youth leaders (VYLs) who are trained to be on the forefront of raising awareness on the importance of folic acid supplementation and newborn screening in their community.

Barangay Service Point Ofiicers (BSPO), GeneSoc facilitators, and youth volunteers of Nampicuan assemble for a photo opportunity after the special portion of the training program intended for BSPOs (Photo: GeneSoc)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Pride in Full Bloom

by Paul Jhon Diezon (Phagemids)

For the sixth time, Los Baños waved its rainbow flag in celebration of pride. Spearheaded by UPLB Babaylan, an organization established in 2009 that forefronts gender equality, the event was in full color as participants from different sectors gathered in a march themed “Pride March Natin ‘to.” 
Setting the Context of a Continuous Struggle

Believing that the struggle of the LGBT is not far from the struggles of the Filipino masses, the march’s main campaign is the passing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill. This bill aims to end all forms of discrimination for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community in the country, after House Bill 5687 – its latest version failed to pass in the 16th Congress. It also seeks to prohibit discriminatory practices on the basis of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, specifically in hiring, firing and demotions; rejection or expulsion from any educational or training institution; giving harsher penalties, punishments, and requirements; refusal and revocation of honors, achievements and licenses; prevention of use of public facilities; mandatory psychological tests; and harassment or refused protection by law enforcers.

The bill also aims to provide law enforcers a series of gender awareness training, which will help them address certain hate crimes. The country has had around 200 documented cases since the 90’s, while several others remain unreported. One of such crimes is the murder of Jennifer Laude in October 2014. Until today, justice has yet to be served. 

Many other Filipinos, mostly unknown to mainstream media, have suffered the same fate as Laude despite the fact that the country has been named as one of the most gay-friendly nations in the world, and the most LGBT-friendly in Asia in a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The long road for the passing of this bill could be traced back in the ‘90s where it marks the first demonstration of attendance by an organized sector of the country’s LGBT community in the participation of a lesbian group called Lesbian Collective, joining the International Women’s Day march of 1992. Various groups including the UP Babaylan in 1992, were established. In 1999, Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network, otherwise known as LAGABLAB was formed and proposed the Anti-Discriminations Bill (ADB) of 2000. Six years later, another House Bill was filed in the lower house, but only reached the second reading.

Going Deep into the Genome

Aside from the debates regarding discrimination and attempts to break the stereotype, huge efforts on explaining sexual orientation has been coming in the field of science. However, generating a more reliable data on frequencies has been hindered by the fact that homosexuals tend to have, on average, five times fewer children than heterosexual males. According to Nature, the biology of sexual orientation has been one of the most vexing — and politically charged — questions in human genetics. And surprisingly, one study recognized the possible link between homosexuality and genetic tags that are affected by the environment.

In one study, DNA samples were gathered from 37 pairs of identical twins in which only one twin was gay, and 10 pairs in which both were gay. By scanning the twins’ epigenomes, the researchers found five epigenetic marks that were deemed common among the gay men than in their identical straight brothers. An algorithm was also developed based on the five marks which could possibly predict the sexual orientation of men in the study 67% of the time.

A number of twin studies and family trees also provide strong evidence that sexual orientation is at least partly genetic. According to another study, when one identical twin is gay, there is about a 20% chance that the other will be as well. But since this incidence isn’t observed in all subjects, it is believed that environmental factors play a huge role, too. The controversial locus, Xq28 was also a favorite subject in linkage studies where results have shown that polymorphisms in this location coincide with greater concordance rates than that of the Mendelian segregation. But despite the continuous efforts to find the link of genetics and homosexuality, some scientists still refuse to believe that there exists a gene for homosexuality.

Living in Full Color

Genetically-based or not, diversity in sexuality should never be a reason for someone to be discriminated and oppressed by the society. It should never be a reason why someone would be rejected in the workplace, deprived of education and healthcare or denied of the right to live. We should not wait for another Jennifer Laude before we realize that we need to pass a law that protects the rights of our LGBTQ.

But our plight doesn’t end on the LGBTQ community alone. Discrimination still thrives in various sectors of the society and it is our duty to truly address these issues—via education. After all, LGBTQ rights and all other rights are still human rights and no one is entitled to deprive anyone of their right to live in full bloom, in waves of different colors.#

(Sources: Rappler, Inquirer & Nature)

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Genetics Week 2016: From DNA to Olympic Gold

by Joana Cruz (Cyclosome)

With the theme “Sports Genetics: Demystifying the Strength of the DNAthlete," The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) will feature Sports Genetics on its 33rd year to divulge the connection of genetics and individual athleticism. It aims to explain that athleticism is more than just a product of environment and mental discipline but also of the interaction and expression of our genes.

According to scientists, there are about 200 genes that are linked to our physical performance and that their expression also depend on the presence of other genes. This is observable in the ACTN3 gene, the "speed and power gene," which has the R and X alleles. The R allele triggers the expression of the speed gene while its absence inhibits its expression. Moreover, heightened athleticism is not solely attributed to genome organization; it can also be influenced by gene mutations which according to scientists occur alongside with evolution.
Sports genetics evolved and diversified through time and its concept emphasizes that we can all be athletically-inclined; that we can be like the runners, swimmers and athletes we idolize; that we can be one of those who will take home an Olympic gold.

Monday, October 24, 2016

GeneSoc’s NIGQC to feature Genetics and Agriculture for Sustainability

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA - Hosted by THE UPLB GENETICS SOCIETY (GeneSoc), the 7th National Intercolegiate Genetics Quiz Contest will be held this November 5 at the Umali Auditorium of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in Los Baños, Laguna.

With the theme “Breed and Transform: Genetics and Agriculture Towards Food Security and Sustainability,” NIGQC 2016 rises above its preceding installments with a symposium and a fresh twist to the quiz competition. NIGQC is open to all undergraduate students with a background in genetics and its allied sciences from all the colleges and universities throughout the Philippines.

Last year, University of the Philippines Baguio (UP Baguio) emerged as the champion of NIGQC, besting 11 participating schools and marking the university’s second win since 1998. Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) copped the second and third place, respectively.

NIGQC 2016 furthers the challenge of the quiz competition by throwing in exciting but difficult questions and by inciting strategic individual competence for greater team dynamics within the participants. An exhibit and a symposium from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will also be featured in the national event.

Set to compete for the national quiz contest are Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU), Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle Lipa (DLSL), Far Eastern University (FEU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila (PUP Manila), Southern Luzon State University (SLSU), St. Scholastica’s College Manila (SSC Manila), University of the Philippines Baguio (UP Baguio), University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila), University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao), University of the Philippines Visayas (UP Visayas – Miag-ao), University of San Agustin (USA) and University of Santo Tomas (UST).

For more information about NIGQC please go to: bit.ly/nigqc2016

You may also visit the official page of NIGQC 2016 at: bit.ly/2eDWl6V

For inquiries regarding NIGQC 2016, please contact:

Leann Francia Suiton
+639 064 580 636

Sunday, September 25, 2016

14 CAS organizations kick off PalaCASan 2016

By Joana Cruz (Cyclosome)

Los Baños, Laguna -- With the theme “Bumabangon. Lumalaban. Manlalaro ng Bayan”, PalaCASan 2016 officially commenced last September 10.

PalaCASan is an annual sports event held every first semester of the academic year and is participated by different academic organizations under the College of Arts and Sciences.

For this year, 14 organizations will compete for the title of being the Over-all Champion of PalaCASan. These organizations include UP Cell Biological Society; UPLB Chemical Kinetics Society; UPLB Chemical Society; UPLB Computer Science Society; The CPS Triangle; UPLB Mathematical Sciences Society; The UPLB Microbiological Society; UPLB Zoological Society; Philobioscientia, The UPLB Life Sciences Society; PHYSIKA, UP Applied Physics Society; Society of Applied Mathematics of UPLB; Society of Math Majors UPLB; UPLB Statistical Society and The UPLB Genetics Society.

BuCASan: Lux and Gravity

“Lux” and “Gravity” started the fire burning for PalaCASan 2016.

“Lux” served as the official pageant night while “Gravity” served as the official cheerdance competition.

Society of Applied Mathematics of UPLB was declared champion of Gravity, while UP Cell Biological Society came in as first runner up and UPLB Mathematical Sciences Society as second runner up.
Society of Applied Mathematics of UPLB, Cheerdance Competion Champion

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Activated

By Odilon Picaso (Cyclosome)
Batch Cyclosome during the celebration of BIO 30 Week 2016
(L-R: Pam, Albert, Faith, Cy, Hannah, Coco, Andrea, Joana, Leann, Camille, Odi, Carl, Angela)

What drove together 13 different individuals into joining a pool of young scientists is a common mission. They have accepted the challenge to provide genuine leadership and service to the campus and the nation though Genetics.  They are called 'Cyclosome'.

Cyclosome is a protein complex with specific and regulated protein-ubiquitin ligase activity that tags mitotic regulators for degradation at the end of mitosis. Cyclosome tags proteins that hinder the activation of enzymes needed by the cell as it undergoes mitosis. It plays a big role in metaphase-anaphase transition. Without it, anaphase will not proceed, inducing cell death.

Just like the cyclosome, these 13 activated individuals who have joined Genesoc are driven by a certain 'calling.’ They’ve pinpointed the worst in them, most specifically their past weaknesses and mistakes, and have turned them into something beautiful. 

Now, let’s meet Batch Cyclosome. A batch united by one advocacy–to promote the science of genetics to advance the quality of human life. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Youth empowerment towards a healthier Philippines: Nampicuan-LGU, DOH Region III gears up its youth for community health promotion


NAMPICUAN, NUEVA ECIJA – The Local Government Unit (LGU) of the municipality of Nampicuan through its Municipal Health Officer (MHO), Dr. Ron Allan Quimado in cooperation with The UPLB Genetics Society (UPLB GeneSoc) and Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) Philippines established a community-based youth organization in a three-day training camp held last June 7-9, 2016.

Youth Participants from Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija during the commitment setting activity and closing ceremonies of the K4Health Training Program held at La Romana Countryside Haven, June 9, 2016.
A total of 16 youth participants joined the K4Health training program sponsored by the Department of Health – Central Luzon Regional Office (DOH Regional Office III), Newborn Screening Center – Central Luzon (NSC-CL), Institute of Human Genetics (IHG) – NIH, UP Manila, and some alumni members of GeneSoc. Preparatory training activities for facilitators were also made possible through UPLB Ugnayan ng Pahinungod and VYLH-Philippines.

The program title, K4Health (Kabataan for Health), strongly underscores the role of the youth in nation-building and their mobilization towards health promotion. Also, the four “Ks” stand for “Kabataang Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan,” highlighting the need for the youth to effect change in their community.

The training program, which is a pioneering joint project of VYLH-Philippines and GeneSoc in establishing a community-based VYLH chapter, aimed to organize and mobilize the youth of Nampicuan towards birth defects prevention and newborn screening promotion.

Lectures on community youth training, volunteerism, and the present local health situation in the municipality were delivered by GeneSoc facilitators and Municipal Health Officer Dr. Quimado during the first day of the program which was conducted at Nampicuan's Senior Citizen Hall. The outgoing municipal mayor, Hon. Cora Villanueva was also in attendance to support the activity.

Moreover, representatives from the event sponsors, DOH Region III and NSC-CL, took part in delivering lectures and testimonials during the second day held at La Romana Countryside Haven, Anao, Tarlac.

Representatives from DOH Region III and Newborn Screening Center Central Luzon. (L-R) Dr. Janet T. Miclat, Catherine S. Suril, RN, MAN, Phoebe Queen A. Pamintuan, RN, Safrone Jade P. Dicam, RN, Roland M. Alcantara, RN, and Maria Elissa V. C. Benipayo.
Dr. Janet Miclat of DOH Region III emphasized in her lecture the importance of newborn screening (NBS) by noting that “a simple drop of blood saves lives.” She also introduced the expanded NBS, a procedure which allows for the detection of 28 inborn metabolic errors.

Further, Dr. Miclat reported that the NBS coverage in the region is already 55.99% as of 2014. However, a call to assist the rural health unit in reaching out to pregnant women through the help of youth volunteers is highly necessary to achieve 100% coverage.

Aside from youth participants, the event was also attended by Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO) in the third day of the training program. Nampicuan BSPOs were given an orientation on preconception health for birth defects prevention. It is expected that the BSPO’s participation will be essential in complementing the planned activities of community volunteer youth leaders.

Hands-on activities and teaching demonstration tasks were assigned to the participants to integrate the advocacies presented by VYLH-Philippines and evaluate their awareness about birth defects and other health-related issues.

Problem tree analysis and commitment setting rites were also conducted in order to strengthen the Nampicuan youth as community volunteers. Induction of new members to VYLH-Philippines and the officers of VYLH – Nampicuan Chapter culminated the three-day training program.

Barangay Service Point Ofiicers (BSPO), GeneSoc facilitators, and youth volunteers of Nampicuan assemble for a photo opportunity after the special portion of the training program intended for BSPOs.
In addition, the MHO Dr. Quimado agreed to act as the adviser of the community-based VYLH chapter.

Meanwhile, the facilitators from UPLB GeneSoc vowed to conduct scheduled site visits in order to monitor the chapter’s performance and provide sustainable support in keeping the youth of Nampicuan active and innovative in attending to the needs of their community.

VYLH-Philippines and UPLB GeneSoc hope that this type of partnership will be replicated soon in other locations in the country.

For more information regarding K4Health Community Youth Training Program, please visit http://bit.ly/1tbevEo.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Official Statement of The UPLB Genetics Society on The SAIS Fiasco

The UPLB Genetics Society, one with the student body, strikes against the exploitation of students with a dubiously expensive system that fails at delivering any satisfactory service. 

With a hefty price tag of about ONE BILLION for the eUP project, the Student Academic Information System (SAIS) is expected to be a program that no longer needs to learn from the previous mistakes of the now extremely reliable homegrown programs of the different UP campuses. Without any consultation with the student body, President Alfredo E. Pascual (PAEP) pushed upon trashing these programs (SystemOne and CRS, among others) to protect his personal interests for a parting legacy in the form of eUP. 

SAIS has failed through and through from UP Manila, UP Cebu, UP Baguio and, now, UP Los Baños. Frequent system shutdowns and the absence of contingency plans paralyzed the SAIS Team and left the students clueless on how to proceed with the registration. However, PAEP chose to turn a blind eye to this distress and have stayed mum on the consequences of his actions. 

Untrue to its vision, SAIS does not intend to make the registration easier and more accessible to all students. It has divided the students into illogical registration appointments that have forced many to consider filing LOAs or transferring to other universities, citing reasons such as frozen SAIS accounts due to pending loans and insufficient academic units. 

Moreover, this system has put many students in danger by setting the start of registration at odd hours and by blocking the connection of students outside the UPLB network, forcing them to camp inside the campus in the dangerous wee hours.

We send a blunt message to the administration and the taxpayers of our esteemed country. Help stop this senseless abuse of authority and terminate this program before its price tag shoots up again. 

JUNK SAIS, but most importantly, INVESTIGATE SAIS. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Shedding a new light on genetic treatments, evolution

Written by Keach Nichole F. Lotho (Riboswitch)

Researchers from the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics in the University of Maryland discovered that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) made in the neurons of Caenorhabditis elegans, a species of roundworm commonly used in laboratory experiments, can trigger silencing of genes in the germ cells which are known to produce sperm or egg cells essential in an organism’s reproductive processes. In this particular study published on early 2015 in the online database of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team of scientists found out that the silencing of a gene of a matching sequence could persist in more than 25 generations.

C. elegans visualized using fluorescent dye
Photo | WormBook

The inheritance through the germline is believed not to be influenced by environmental effects which can alter the soma or body cells. However, certain genes in the germline can be silenced, or switched off, as caused by environmental factors. These modifications are sometimes transgenerational; that is, they can be passed across multiple generations. These transgenerational effects are initiated either by direct changes in the ancestral germline or by the transmission of genetic information from somatic cells to the germ cells. Researchers find it difficult to distinguish between the two aforementioned mechanisms, causing manipulation in the activity of gene in specific tissues through the use of dsRNA.

In order to come up with the recent finding that genes within the germ cells can be silenced by dsRNA, scientists used the neurons of C. elegans to produce molecules of dsRNA. Such molecules are known to travel between somatic cells and can silence genes corresponding to a particular section of a cell’s DNA. The transfer among tissues of gene-regulatory information continues through the transport of another form of dsRNA called mobile RNA. Mobile RNAs are molecules that enter the germline and give an organism the ability to transfer gene-specific regulatory information from the soma across generations, a mechanism enabling for transgenerational effects in animals.

Nerve cells (magenta) and germ cells (green) of C. elegans stained by fluorescent dyes
Photo | Sindhuja Devanapally

This finding is a major breakthrough in understanding evolutionary biology considering that some other animals may use such dsRNA transport to become accustomed to their environment. Furthermore, the study envisions its contribution to the advancement of medical treatments for genetic disorders through RNA interference (RNAi) wherein a specific gene-causing disease that matches the dsRNA can be targeted to be switched off. This, however, posts a problem as regards to the long-term stability of gene silencing. 


Sindhuja Devanapally, Snusha Ravikumar, Antony M. Jose. Double-stranded RNA made in C. elegans neurons can enter the germline and cause transgenerational gene silencing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences2015; 201423333 DOI:10.1073/pnas.1423333112

University of Maryland. (2015, February 2). New mechanism of inheritance could advance study of evolution, disease treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150202212449.htm

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Three GeneSoc members, among the newly inducted members of The International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Newly inducted ΦKΦ members 
(L-R: Morel Dominic D. Umipon, Heway Christian A. Serra,
and Rochelle B. Sarmiento)
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – Three members of The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc), together with the other “upper 10% of seniors and 7.5% of juniors, outstanding graduate students, faculty, administrators, professional staff and alumni,” attended the Induction Ceremony for new members of The International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi last June 4, 2016 at the SEARCA Umali Auditorium in the University of the Philippines, Los Baños.

New Phi Kappa Phi Members

Morel Dominic D. Umipon
Umipon of Batch Proteasome is ranked 3rd (Junior Category) among the 2015 Top 43 CAS Outstanding Students. He is under the BS Biology Major in Cell and Molecular Biology program of the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), UPLB. He is also the current Education Committee Head of GeneSoc.

Rochelle B. Sarmiento
Sarmiento of Batch Polylinker is also among the 2015 Top 43 CAS Outstanding Students, ranking 4th (Junior Category). She is also under the BS Biology program of IBS, UPLB, majoring in Genetics. She was the former Outreach Committee Head and the current Public Relations Committee Head of GeneSoc. 

Heway Christian A. Serra
Serra of Batch Phagemids is a BS Agriculture Major in Agronomy student. He was the Technicals Committee Head of GeneSoc's National Intercollegiate Genetics Quiz Contest (NIGQC) 2014. Aside from Phi Kappa Phi, Serra has also been recently inducted as a new member of the Phi Sigma Biological Sciences Honor Society last May 3, 2016 at University of the Philippines, Diliman. 

2015 Phi Kappa Phi Inductee of GeneSoc
Paul Jhon Diezon during the 2015 ΦKΦ Induction
Ceremony in UP Diliman

Paul Jhon Diezon
Diezon of Batch Phagemids is a BS Biology Major in Cell and Molecular Biology student. He was a former Councilor and the current Vice-Chairperson of the UPLB College of Arts and Sciences Student Council (CAS SC). He was also the former Editor-in-Chief of Genews during AY 2014-15. Diezon is also among the 2015 Top 43 CAS Outstanding Students, ranking 4th (Senior Category).

The International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Phi Kappa Phi (ΦKΦ) is among the oldest and most respected academic honor societies with more than 1.25 million members in its global network. Membership to this honor society is highly competitive and is by invitation only, requiring nomination and approval by the respective chapters of the honor society. 

The University of the Philippines Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Chapter 045, was established on January 17, 1933 by 14 scholars. The chapter has initiated 9, 757 members to date. 

For more information regarding The International Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, please visit: http://bit.ly/28Tb6Tg.

Monday, June 6, 2016

GeneSoc to spearhead a three-day Community Youth Training Program in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija

by GENEWS Team

Standing firm on its commitment to promoting health-related advocacies, The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc) is set to lead the engagement of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH) -Philippines with the community youth in a pilot project called K4Health Community Youth Training Program this June 7-9 in Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija.

Rooted to the meaning of K4, "Kabataan Kabalikat ng Komunidad para sa Kalusugan,” the said training program aims to organize and establish a community VYLH core group in the host local government unit under the direct supervision of the Local Government Unit's (LGU) Health Officer.

Further, the training program will feature a joint orientation session of the youth with the Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPOs) of Nampicuan. Recognizing the BSPOs' importance in sustaining the Infant and Child Health Program of the municipality, making them knowledgeable of this health campaign initiative and gaining their consent will facilitate the establishment of an enabling environment for the community youth.

In the spirit of volunteerism, this program was organized in partnership with VYLH-Philippines, Municipality of Nampicuan in Nueva Ecija, Department of Health Central Luzon Regional Office (DOH Region III), Newborn Screening Center-Central Luzon (NSC-CL), and Institute of Human Genetics-National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila.

In preparing for the said Community Youth Training Program, GeneSoc developed a project proposal that was reviewed by VYLH-Philippines and the Municipal Health Officer of Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija. Separate preparatory training activities in partnership with Ugnayan ng Pahinungod - UP Los Baños and VYLH-Philippines were also held last June 1 and 5. The sessions covered community youth organization and facilitation skills, and advocacy presentation and messaging, respectively. These were done in order to ensure the readiness of GeneSoc members in conducting the three-day activity.

GeneSoc, along with its partners, hopes that the first VYLH – LGU partnership of this kind will be replicated in other locations in the country upon its pilot implementation in Nampicuan.

GeneSoc's History with VYLH-Philippines

After being handpicked by then Institute of Human Genetics-National Institutes of Health, UP Manila Director Dr. Carmencita Padilla in 2008, The UPLB Genetics Society became the pioneer youth organization and convenor of an advocacy-awareness program focusing on promoting folic acid supplementation for the prevention of birth defects. The campaign subsequently led to the formation of Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health-Philippines (VYLH-Philippines) in 2009. Since then, GeneSoc has remained committed to the campaign and in representing the university-based youth network in UP Los Baños.

For more information regarding K4Health Training Program, please visit http://bit.ly/1tbevEo.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

From Pen to President: Merc Matienzo is set to lead GeneSoc on its 33rd year


Los Baños, Laguna – The UPLB Genetics Society has elected its GENEWS Editor-in-Chief, Merc Emil Matienzo of Batch Riboswitch, as its president for Academic Year 2016-2017.

Matienzo’s general plan of action aims for GeneSoc to transcend all of its momentous years with passion and excellence-driven endeavors. He plans to achieve this by keeping the spirit of solidarity as the central virtue that unifies its members.

He also proposed slogans for GeneSoc’s 33rd year such as: “Excellence is an understatement” and “Transcending excellence through boundless passion for service and commitment.”

The other nominees for president were Lorenzo Roxas and Rodrigo Curiba, both from Batch Riboswitch.

On Matienzo’s plans for Academic Year 2016-2017

Matienzo hopes for a smooth execution of all the organization’s activities, undeterred by the need for adjustment with the advent of PalaCASan 2016. He plans to impose this through a more “stringent and strict” planning and execution of activities.

With the rising pressure and anticipation for PalaCASan 2016, Matienzo is certain to bring a sports festival that will be in parallel with GeneSoc’s brand of executing national activities. He is also pleased to say that GeneSoc is excited to start the preparations for the semester-long event.

Moreover, Matienzo, fronting GeneSoc, promises to give the organizations within the College of Arts and Sciences the kind of PalaCASan they truly deserve.

On “Presumptive Legacy”
For this term, Matienzo hopes to “maintain and retain the glorious years” of The UPLB Genetics Society as it continues to raise awareness about the science of Genetics in and beyond UPLB.

Meet Merc Matienzo
Matienzo is a BS Biology student Major in Cell and Molecular Biology.

He is known for making GENEWS real-time and establishing a network for the publication such as the UPLB Foundation, Inc., which became its sponsor. 

Matienzo has also released two GENEWS issues:

GENEWS Online posts have raised the total page views to 21,000 and counting, making the site one of the most viewed campus online student organization publication.

Ongoing elections
Meanwhile, GeneSoc is currently completing its Executive Committee and Special Positions lineup.  The tentative date for the Induction and Oath-taking Ceremony of the new officers is May 27. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

GeneSoc to host PalaCASan 2016

by Dale Joseph Diño (Phagemids)

Get your sneakers ready and raise the banners of your organization as this coming academic year 2016-2017, PalaCASan 2016 - the annual sports event of College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)-based organizations - will be hosted by The UPLB Genetics Society (GeneSoc). Students representing their respective organizations compete in events that showcase their inner athletic spirit. Aside from showcasing their wits and skills, PalaCASan aims to build and strengthen the camaraderie and promote sportsmanship within and among organizations.

The GENEWS Team got a chance to have a one-on-one interview with GeneSoc’s PalaCASan 2016 ad hoc Committee Head, Mr. Gabrielle Angelo P. Cortez, to share some updates about the preparation for the most-awaited annual sports event:

Genews: What is it like to be the next host of the annual sportsfest of CAS-based organizations?
Mr. Cortez: Nakakakaba na nakakaproud. Exciting kasi nabigyan tayo ng chance na ipakita ang galing ng GeneSoc and be able to leave a mark on history ika nga.

Genews: What preparations have GeneSoc made for this event?
Mr. Cortez: Sinubukan talaga namin i-ensure na swak sa budget para sa event pero hin-di bababa ang quality. Learn from previous hosts and try to bring a new spin on things.

Genews: For the coming academic year’s PalaCASan, what will we expect from the host organization?
Mr. Cortez: Hopefully smoother ang flow from BuCASan to WaCASan. Minimize din ang sakit ng ulo para sa participating orgs at syempre sa host.

The annual event mainly consists of three parts: BuCASan, the formal opening of PalaCASan; the game proper which lasts semester long and; WaCASan the awarding ceremony and formal closing of the event. While GeneSoc is still in the process of organizing the event, CAS-based organization heads have been scouting for the upcoming sports competition.

“Yung expectation lang namin ay mas magiging challenging yung PalaCASan next year kasi every year naman ay ganun eh tsaka may mga players din kaming gagraduate na so kailangan namin mag-adjust. Pero yung goal naman namin ay mag-enjoy lagi sa mga games”, said Mr. Regin Rey Dungca, PalaCASan 2015 Head of Philobioscientia: The UPLB Life Sciences Society.

GeneSoc is getting revved-up to host PalaCASan 2016 on its 33rd year. Five months from now, another chapter of the PalaCASan timeline would be imprinted, and another history will be made as different organizations compete to be hailed champion for PalaCASan 2016. So gear up and score your way to the top to be crowned the champion of PalaCASan 2016.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Prof Montecillo joins GeneSoc Outstanding Teacher Awardee Pool

By Rency Raquid (Riboswitch)

Photo Courtesy: Institute of Biological Sciences - UPLB

Assistant Professor Andrew Montecillo officially joins the mob of The UPLB Genetics Society after being lauded with the Outstanding Teacher Award (OTA) for Biological Sciences (Junior Category) at the Makiling Ballroom Hall, Student Union Building, UPLB, last March 4. IBS grabbed the same award for Senior Category with Dr. Vachel Gay Paller, a Professor at the Animal Biology Division and former Deputy Director of the Institute.

Keeping the streak

Montecillo, nominated by IBS and CAS, bested other shortlisted candidates from different colleges and institutes of the university considered in biological science field namely, College of Agriculture, College of Human Ecology, College of Forestry, College of Veterinary Medicine, and School of Environmental Science and Management.

UPLB OTA is annually given to deserving faculty members as part of the foundation celebration of the university. Other categories include Physical and Social Sciences. The screening process starts at nomination from the institute to the college level. Respective colleges will then forward their nominees to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) that shall form the Screening Committee for each category. This committee shall forward their shortlisted nominees to the UPLB Screening Committee for final evaluation. Criteria for judging include student and peer evaluations, teaching materials, and actual classroom management and teaching skills.

Passion for teaching and learning

Montecillo is a Professor of the Microbiology Division of the Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) where he is teaching introductory microbiology, microbial identification techniques, and microbial genetics.

It’s in the genes

Upholding the legacy of passion and excellence, Montecillo is the newest addition to GeneSoc pool of outstanding teacher awardees. Other GeneSoc awardees in UPLB include Dr. Merlyn Mendioro, IBS director and current Senior Adviser of the organizaton, Dr. Ma. Genaleen Diaz (F1), Prof. Neilyn Ona-Villa (Polytenes), and Mr. Jickerson Lado (Integrons). Prof. Juanaldo Mantiquilla (Replicons), professor at UP Mindanao, also received an equivalent Gawad Tsanselor award.