Partnering for genomics research and collaborating for capacity building—the Philippine Genome Center invited researchers, faculty, and project leaders in the Visayas region with the goal of initiating collaboration amongst local principal investigators and promoting capacity building to budding genomics researchers. The symposium was held at the Iloilo Convention Center, Mandurriao, Iloilo City last October 27, 2017, with the help of the University of the Philippines Visayas and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development and Conservation (SEAFDEC) Aquaculture Department (AQD).

Attendees were greeted by Dr. Ricardo P. Babaran, then Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension of the University of the Philippines Visayas; and currently elected as its 10th Chancellor. Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma, Executive Director of PGC, also welcomed the participants by sharing her excitement for the future of science after seeing such a young crowd of faculty and researchers. Dr. Saloma added that she hopes to see more and more researchers get involved in genomics. Dr. Edgar C. Amar, Head of Training and Information of the SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department began the morning session with his presentation on the Shrimp Pathogenomics Program. Dr. Amar talked about his tale of collaboration for the project (Bio-bank and Biosurveillance Database Resource) while also emphasizing the importance of surveillance and pathogen databases in the country.

Dr. Ma. Anita M. Bautista, Laboratory Manager of the PCARI-Shared Genomics Core Laboratory (SGCL) discussed the current insect genomics efforts done in the Philippines through Ultramodern and high-throughput sequencing and Bioinformatics. This was followed by Dr. Arturo O. Lluisma, an Associate Professor and Principal Investigator from the Marine Genomics and Molecular Genetics Laboratory of the UP Marine Science Institute presented Genome Mining for Drug Discovery. Dr. Lluisma also highlighted how genomics has been instrumental in the renewed interest in natural products.

For the afternoon session, Dr. Rita P. Laude talked about “AgriGenomics for a sustainable future” and how advanced genomics will accelerate the discovery of Next Generation products. Dr. Laude also gave an overview of the on-going Coconut program, composed of eight (8) projects under the PGC-Agriculture R&D. Dr. Benedict A. Maralit, Laboratory Manager of the PGC-DNA Sequencing and Bioinformatics Facility (DSBF) presented the various Sequencing and Bioinformatics services offered by PGC.

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña
DOST Undersecretary Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara

To close off the symposium, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña (L) gave a short message of support in promoting genomics in the Philippines, as he mentions that it is their endeavour to encourage students as young as grades 11 and 12 to pursue and study genomics. Similarly, DOST Undersecretary Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara (R) adds that the DOST likewise heavily promotes R&D collaboration in the country. With the dearth of scientists and genomics researchers in the local science industry, all the more that the regional researchers must be pushed to continue creating and submitting proposals.

The Iloilo genomics symposium was conducted in part of the center’s goal to engage Filipino scientists to collaborate and showcase its genomics projects as well as sequencing technologies and bioinformatics tools available at the PGC.