Secretary Fortunato de la Peña of the Department of Science and Technology recognized the importance of the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao’s Niche Center for the Region (NICER) in Research & Development for being one of the few dedicated to health, in remarks made during his visit to DOST-supported projects in UP Mindanao on June 28, 2022.
“We have approved 43 of these NICER centers all over the country but not many of them are in health and this is one of those. It is the niche center that is focused on modeling to help in making decision support systems related to health. It is one of those that are considered important,” he said.
The secretary was referring to UP Mindanao’s Center for Applied Modeling, Data Analytics, and Bioinformatics for Decision Support Systems in Health (AMDABiDSS-Health), a research program focusing on assessing the risk and vulnerability of communities to infectious diseases using mathematical and biological tools, which was awarded as an “Outstanding NICER for Research & Development” in May for its disease surveillance in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have toured the 16 regions starting November when travel was allowed because I wanted to see what was happening in our programs and projects. My visit to Region 11 is the last of the regions and I am very happy to note that our programs were well appreciated by our partners and beneficiaries, Mindanao being one of them. There were so many projects that I got to see. There is the decision-support system for infectious diseases; there are the unmanned vehicles, the research on lactic acid, and the genome center which we have supported. We have made progress on these. There were some discussions and some suggestions on how else the collaborations can be improved and expanded,” he concluded.
Secretary de la Pena also donated copies of his book Science for Innovation: All About Technology Business Incubators to UP Mindanao Chancellor Lyre Murao, together with his co-authors Robina Gokongwei-Pe and Maret Follosco-Bautista.
Project leaders of UP Mindanao’s DOST-supported research gave updates during the visit.
Dr. May Anne Mata described the work of the Center for AMDABIDSS-Health as “an Intelligent Decision Support system for pandemic management" and its component projects as integrated risk management, COVID-19 projections, the risk of community exposure, and the vulnerability to emerging infections. Dr. Jaime Montoya, chairperson of the Phil. Council for Health Research & Development, also urged the AMDABIDSS team to begin research on anti-microbial resistance which he said is an emerging worldwide health emergency.
Dr. Joel Hassan Tolentino related the Philippine Genome Center Mindanao’s activities in bio-surveillance for COVID-19 variants in Mindanao and African Swine Fever in livestock, the training of students and medical personnel, and development of COVID-19 laboratories.
Dr. Jose Ildefonso Rubrico presented videos of the Autonomous Societally Inspired Mission Oriented Vehicles (ASIMOV) and Philippine Sky Artificial Intelligence (SkAI-Pinas) programs and their respective component projects, the Harmonized Aerial Watch and Knowledge-based Survey (HAWKS) and Automated Labeling Machine-Large Scale Initiative Project (ALaM-LSI), which are focused on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, aiming to develop core technologies for autonomous aerial and land-based vehicles, as well as automating the remote sensing workflow, enabling key applications for societal purposes like disaster response or enhancing productivity.
Dr. Melvin Pasaporte presented the Lactic Acid project which developed food-grade lactic acid which aims to contribute to the unlimited demand in the food, pharmaceutical, chemical, poultry, and cosmetic industries.
Chancellor Murao presented a token and a certificate of appreciation to Secretary de la Peña for his role in the establishment of UP Mindanao during his time as UP Vice-President for Planning and Development, and subsequent support as a DOST official.
TOP PHOTO: DOST team with UP Mindanao team on June 28, 2022
BOTTOM PHOTO: Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Pena (back, center) and the DOST team with the Center for Applied Modeling, Data Analytics, and Bioinformatics for Decision Support Systems in Health (AMDABiDSS-Health)