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(Gen) Science & Technology in Economic Development

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:32 pm    Post subject: (Gen) Science & Technology in Economic Development Reply with quote

Science and technology in economic development
STAR SCIENCE By Philippine-based PAASE members
The Philippine STAR 03/02/2006

This paper was prepared by the Philippine-based members of the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE), including Drs. Rhodora V. Azanza, Gisela P. Concepcion, Alvin Culaba, Fabian M. Dayrit, Ernesto M. Pernia, and Caesar Saloma. It was sent recently to President Arroyo, several members of Congress and the secretaries of the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture and Department of Health as part of PAASE’s campaign to increase the S&T budget of the government.

I. Science and Technology and Economic Growth

Increases in capital and labor are important to the growth of an economy. But that is only part of the real story. Robert M. Solow, Nobel laureate in economic science (1987), showed that capital and labor accounted for only a part of the long-term economic growth of the United States; a substantial part was attributed to advances in the general state of knowledge.

Numerous studies on the economic growth of nations ascribe a significant role to specific factors, such as education, improvements in efficiency, and shifts in the allocation of labor from less productive to more productive activities.

More recent studies – resulting in what is now known as endogenous growth theory – find that technological innovation and economic growth are mutually reinforcing; that is, economic growth can be best sustained through technological innovation, and technological innovation can come about from research and development (R&D).

But who is to lead R&D? In most of the highly developed countries today, the government led in R&D. That is because R&D has generally been regarded as a public good. The private sector in developing countries has neither the resources nor the incentive to generate an optimum level of R&D as it is a costly and risky undertaking. The private sector lacks the incentive to lead in R&D because it cannot fully own or exclude others from the ensuing benefits, and the private rate of return to R&D is typically lower than the social return.

The Philippines’ long neglect of science and technology (S&T), besides weak governance, has resulted in its poor economic performance for decades. Figure 1 shows that our Asian neighbors that have had high rates of capital formation, including R&D, have enjoyed higher productivity and economic growth. The clear laggard is the Philippines, where the government’s budget for S&T has been on the order of 0.12 percent of GDP on average in the last several years. By contrast, our Asian neighbors have been investing at least 0.5 percent in S&T.

Clearly, we need a substantial increase in our budget for S&T if we want to achieve rapid and sustained economic growth, increase job creation, dramatically reduce poverty, and significantly improve standards of living for all Filipinos.

We would, therefore, urge this administration and lawmakers to give serious attention to the development of S&T by providing the necessary budgetary allocation. The minimum targets (relative to GDP) should be as follows: 0.2 percent in 2007, 0.3 percent in 2008, 0.4 percent in 2009, and 0.5 percent in 2010. These are very modest targets that would not even bring us at par with our Asian neighbors. By 2020, the aim should be to allocate at least one percent of our GDP for S&T.

We propose that the increased budgetary support be invested in a massive, sustained program of capacity building where world-class S&T centers of excellence linked to regional R&D institutes can provide the right environment to attract the brightest young minds in the country to become PhDs – expert scientists and engineers. The priority R&D programs under the DOST’s National Science and Technology Plan would then be implemented by the most competent researchers in the country. We also propose a system of regular external peer review that will ensure optimum efficiency of this S&T investment.

II. Capacity Building in S&T

The building up of S&T capacity is urgently needed for increased productivity, competitiveness and problem-solving skills. There are many areas for capacity building.

S&T centers of excellence should be established and maintained in the various areas of need. At present, some core areas already exist, but they require completion and additional input of resources.

We need more focused manpower and institutional development programs, such as the Engineering and Science Education Program (ESEP). ESEP had prioritized the training of PhDs in science and engineering and provided needed facilities and equipment.

Regional centers of R&D should be established to support specific industries, but these should be closely linked with the S&T centers of excellence which will lead the country in different areas of R&D.

We need to establish S&T business centers, near the S&T centers of excellence, which will assist, advise and incubate technopreneurship ventures.

We need to invest more resources to strengthen science education at an early stage through the existing Philippine Science High School system.

We need to supplement science education in the primary and secondary levels with up-to-date learning strategies and materials that will encourage our youth to appreciate the value of science to life.

Specific proposals for capacity building in S&T have been prepared by PAASE members and are attached to this paper.

III. S&T Priorities

The DOST’s National Science and Technology Plan (NSTP) has identified priority areas of R&D that would enhance national productivity and competitiveness. This we support fully. PAASE members and other local researchers have prepared proposals for consideration by DOST and other government funding agencies in the following areas: agriculture and livestock, food and nutrition, fisheries and aquaculture, natural products, health and medicine, biodiversity and environment, ecotourism and livelihood, engineering, material science, energy and ICT. These proposals represent only a few of the many projects that Filipino scientists and engineers would like to pursue.

The NSTP further recognizes that in order to maximize its impact, S&T priorities should be tied to both national and local needs to create trust, linkages and services for the long term. The benefits from increased S&T support should reach the sectors, which the majority of our people depend on. Consider the following:

Over 70 percent of Filipinos depend on agriculture and aquaculture. The land and the sea provide the only sustainable sources of livelihood in the Philippine countryside. More support is needed for agricultural/aquaculture biotechnology which can produce innovative products and services with high technology input and reduced environmental risks.

About 95 percent of business enterprises in the Philippines are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This sector is virtually bereft of scientific and technological advances because SMEs generally do not have the capability to undertake research and development. There is very little support for S&T that SMEs critically need.

Investments in R&D in agro/aqua-biotechnology and related areas in the various regions of the country have a significant multiplier effect because of their strong local linkages. Unfortunately, there are so many examples of opportunities that we are losing out on because we do not have sufficient S&T capabilities to initiate and support research and development.

Government commitment to fund S&T development can catalyze investments by overseas Filipinos and participation by expatriate Filipino scientists and engineers to help the country. In 2005, OFWs reportedly remitted over $10 billion to their families. Filipino S&T groups with expatriates such as PAASE stand ready to provide their expertise for worthwhile projects. We should intelligently harness these diffused but valuable opportunities into investments for the future. A clear commitment from the government to support key S&T development will serve as the catalyst for this unique opportunity for Filipinos from all over the world to come together to invest in their country’s development.

IV. Ensuring Effectiveness of Science and Technology R&D

Even while an increase in budgetary allocation for S&T is needed, we must institute a review process that will ensure the effectiveness of the R&D process based on internationally accepted measures of performance. We propose that the review process take the following form:

Regular review of scientific and technical output by a panel of internationally recognized experts. For this we can tap the expertise of expatriate Filipino scientists and engineers of PAASE. This panel can serve as an advisory group under the Legislative Committees on S&T.

The S&T output of our R&D institutes should be up to international standards. While the primary role of the R&D institutes is to support specific sectors, e.g., agriculture, health and industry, they are also expected to publish in reputable ISI-recognized journals. This will help ensure a high level of research, and it is also an important means of establishing the international reputation of Philippine scientists and Philippine products.

R&D targets should be clearly set through a process of consultation which should include the S&T community, national agencies and local governments, and the private sector (industry and local SMEs).

Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:32 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 12:28 pm    Post subject: Managing research for sustainable dev’t Reply with quote

Managing research for sustainable dev’t
Dr. Florangel R Braid

AT the 73rd annual meeting of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) attended by about a thousand scientists representing natural, social, and human sciences, a gap in research and development was addressed – interdisciplinary collaboration in population, energy, and environmental management.

Citing his country, Japan, as an example of a poor country after World War 2, but which was able to recover to become a progressive country because of science and technology, Embassy of Japan Minister Eiichi Oshima in his keynote speech emphasized that a country will not develop unless it gives priority to research and development.

In the panel on Research Collaboration for Sustainable Development, the three resource speakers noted a common weakness which is the sectoral and fragmented approach in the generation of new knowledge. These survival issues are not integrated with other development areas and financial resources are not adequate to meet rising energy costs as well as environmental and social costs, according to former Energy Secretary Francisco Viray. The latter further observed that the domestic energy sector is vulnerable to global and regional influences. Thus, energy security mandates energy savings – policies and incentives in order to avoid dependence on imports. Dr. Zelda Zablan traced the history of population management from the Martial Law era by citing the evolution in the national strategy – from fertility reduction to responsible parenthood, then to population management with focus on a more comprehensive agenda such as habitat, management of migration, empowerment of women and poverty reduction.

Today, the approach had shifted to reproductive health which is less controversial. Yet, there also has been little integration of population in the other development sectors. A perusal of 500 pages of our Development Plan shows almost no mention of population management. Now, that the development strategy is anchored on the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with poverty eradication as the main goal, policy makers are now convinced that we should manage population growth, one of the eight MDG goals. But we have just began.

Dr. Milan underscored our "crisis" approach when she noted that this need to harmonize development efforts with sound environmental management resurfaces whenever human and environmental tragedy occurs such as what had happened recently in Saint Bernard. The recipe for sustainable development is to pursue economic growth hand in hand with economic development.

We have been talking about integration for the past decades. Yet, it is easier said than done. This goes back to how we have learned from basic to tertiary education when little was done to show the integration of the sciences and the humanities. But it is not too late and the efforts of NRCP and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) through Secretary Estrella Alabastro and Undersecretary Fortunato de la Pena to bring scientists from all disciplines are commendable. This comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach should further extend to how we utilize knowledge. Knowledge management specialists – those engaged in making research knowledge useful for decisionmaking, are likewise urged to take this holistic approach.

The lack of close linkage between knowledge sources and those who implement programs and projects is easily shown in the lack of adequate flow of information to the victims of the Guinsaugon disaster who may not have comprehended the urgency of relocating to less hazardous areas. Apparently, years of advocacy on need to reforest denuded lands had not successfully sank into people’s consciousness. And we don’t only mean the poor people who cannot afford to spend time and resources in reforesting their land, but also government authorities who make decisions on resources allocation.

Having said that, it appears that we have a knowledge generation and utilization gap. Knowledge utilization would require creative, innovative information and communication strategies that would show in concrete terms which people are able to comprehend, the concept of "tradeoffs." What would one gain or what would one lose, given a set of choices? On the other hand, when we try to persuade people to accept ecologicallyfriendly innovations (renewable and clean energy, organic farming), are we able to communicate that one can be productive (economically gainful) and at the same time environment-friendly?

Given the economic and environmental crisis we are in, research scientists have a vital role to play in policy making. One challenge is what we have already noted – to integrate the three components of sustainable development – population, energy and environment in all development areas. Another is to balance self-reliant growth and emphasis on indigenous resources and at the same time establish partnerships at the global level with international partners and foreign investors. At the level of policy, we need high-level officials in each department of government who would be able to interrelate and apply knowledge from a variety of disciplines in both policy and programs.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject: Pro-poor programs or pro-poor growth? Reply with quote

Pro-poor programs or pro-poor growth?
STAR SCIENCE By Ernesto M. Pernia, Ph.D.
The Philippine STAR 03/09/2006

Malacañang recently announced that the government would fund substantial programs for the poor, such as the provision of subsidized rice, instant noodles and medicines, among others. Funding would come from the putative P35-billion "budgetary savings" – the difference between the programmed and actual budget deficit in 2005. This announcement has attracted comments from some quarters but arguably not enough for an informed public debate on an issue as crucial as poverty alleviation involving a non-trivial amount of fiscal expense. Should the government be doing pro-poor programs or focus instead on raising economic growth? This question is not unimportant especially for a country that is under a serious fiscal strain and where poverty is chronic and widespread.

One of the most robust results of empirical research in development economics is that rapid and sustained economic growth leads to significant and long-term poverty reduction and that direct pro-poor programs are inefficient and unsustainable. The much-heralded dynamic development-cum-poverty reduction of our East and Southeast Asian neighbors is living testimony to this. For example, South Korea, Taiwan, and Malaysia have been able in two decades to bring down their poverty to levels close to those of Western countries. Similarly, Thailand and Indonesia, which had poverty rates of above 40 percent – comparable to that in the Philippines – in the early 1980s, have reduced those rates to less than 10 percent and below 20 percent, respectively, by the early 2000s, while the Philippines’ poverty incidence remains at around 33 percent.

Several observers and analysts have characterized the economic development of our Asian neighbors as "pro-poor growth." So, what is pro-poor growth? Simply put, it is growth that enables the poor to actively participate in and significantly benefit from economic activity. This is a departure from "trickle down" which was the dominant development concept in the 1950s and 1960s. Trickle down means that the benefits of economic growth go to the rich first and the poor gain only indirectly through a vertical flow. Poverty could diminish but only slowly at best, as has happened, unfortunately, in our country.

In contrast to trickle-down development, pro-poor growth requires a strategy that is biased in favor of the poor so that the poor benefit proportionally more than the rich, thereby allowing faster poverty reduction. Key to the definition of pro-poor growth is the joint consideration of growth and the distribution of such growth, i.e., a concern about not only how fast the national pie expands but also how the increment to the national pie is distributed. In other words, pro-poor growth requires that the proportional income growth of the poor exceeds the overall average income growth. For instance, if the Philippines’ GDP per capita growth rate in 2005 were 2.7 percent (overall GDP growth of five percent minus population growth of 2.3 percent), average GDP per capita growth rate for the poor should appreciably exceed 2.7 percent, and such excess sustained, for the country’s poverty incidence to go down significantly over time. Analysis of historical data, however, reveals that the poor tend to gain less than 60 percent of overall average per capita income increase. This explains our country’s mediocre poverty reduction record.

In general, for a given increase in average incomes, poverty falls fastest if growth results in lesser inequality, meaning that the poor are benefiting proportionally more than the non-poor. The opposite situation obtains if growth results in greater inequality, i.e., the distribution of the increment to the pie favors the non-poor. A neutral outcome is when growth keeps inequality unchanged.

What policies promote pro-poor growth? A growth strategy that makes efficient use of labor – the poor’s principal asset – and makes the required investments in education and health, is good for both growth and distribution. Sound macroeconomic management that emphasizes fiscal prudence and good tax administration results in manageable deficits and public debt, and facilitates physical and social investments that benefit the poor besides ensuring long-term growth. Economic openness, underpinned by a realistic exchange rate, promotes exports and foreign direct investment, creates employment, lowers prices of consumer goods, and facilitates the adoption of advanced technology for the economy to move up the global value chains. Private sector development, stimulated by a favorable investment climate, generates jobs, raises productivity, and reduces the strain on the public sector, thus allowing it to concentrate on the provision of public goods and services, including social safety nets. Efficient financial intermediation lowers the cost of capital, eases access to credit, and spurs investment and employment growth. Labor market deregulation facilitates labor mobility and the efficient use of production factors, contributing to output growth.

Pro-poor growth also entails the removal of institutional and policy-induced biases against the poor. Discrimination on grounds of class, gender, ethnicity, and religion hurts the poor more than the rich; the same is true of artificial barriers to entry into certain trades and occupations, or into the formal sector in general. Big-city-oriented industrial location policies and public infrastructure spending for urban areas tend to be biased against smaller towns and rural areas where there are large concentrations of poor and disadvantaged people. Similarly, there are micro policies that work against the poor, such as monopoly enjoyed by some firms that result in high prices, subsidized public utilities (e.g., low water fees) and state universities (low student fees) that benefit primarily the non-poor, and housing policy (rent control) that limits housing supply. Removal of these biases is likely to enhance market efficiency besides promoting social equity.

The foregoing policies can be reinforced by direct pro-poor policies. These include, among others, adequate public spending for basic education, health and family planning services, easier access to micro-credit, promotion of small and medium enterprises, and targeted infrastructure investments in bypassed or underserved rural areas. Human and physical capital investments favoring the poor will improve their productivity and contribution to the economy.

The above are examples of policies that would promote efficient and equitable growth. Earnest implementation of such policies would result in mean incomes of the poor rising faster than overall average incomes and sustained poverty reduction. Our government already has some of these policies on the drawing board but falls short of consistent and sustained implementation. Thus, rather than get its attention and resources distracted by unsustainable pro-poor programs, it would be better for the government to relentlessly pursue a policy reform agenda that fosters pro-poor growth.

Fish or fishing skills? We all know from the old adage that the poor will be better off with the latter.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 11:43 am    Post subject: Replacing the Social Contract with the Covenant Reply with quote

Replacing the Social Contract with the Covenant;id=710
Journal of College and Character (2/2006)

John B. Bennett
Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT


Most faculty and staff know that higher education is a bastion of individualism. We may talk about how committed we are to collaboration and cooperation, but when push comes to shove we often look after our own interests first. Preoccupation with self-protection and career, with research and consulting, even with rebukes to students or administrators can take priority. Most of our colleagues understand - they are doing the same thing.

In addition to the dreadful model of teaching and learning that individualism exhibits, there are other serious liabilities to this way of life. One is academic politics with its bitter contests over small stakes. Victory may be sweet, but it is fleeting. However exhilarating our triumphs, they quickly become yesterday’s events. Issues change, alliances shift, and today’s allies become tomorrow’s opponents. A second liability is the fatigue that comes from preparing for, and waging, seemingly endless battles. Staying alert for surprise attacks and scheming how to maintain our standing can be exhausting. A third liability is finding insecurity and anxiety to be regular companions, however well cloaked. We know we could be undone in the very next class, the next faculty or staff meeting, the next election, the next conference paper, the next article.

Our institutions are little help. They contribute to the problem by talking of community and academic citizenship, but rewarding individual achievements. Indeed, they teach us how to compete for prestige and resources through their own contests with other institutions. They plot how to secure government funding without peer review, they raid faculties, they covet each other’s benefactors. They dismiss unfavorable popular ratings reports and trumpet favorable ones—even those they secure through shaded data. For institutions, as for faculty and staff, talk of collaboration and the interests of a broader community often masks an underlying, insistent individualism. Both within and between our institutions, academic culture can be adversarial and argumentative. Opposition and contentiousness can seem endemic.


This is not what most of us were seeking when we entered the academy. We wanted intellectual companionship, caring and respectful relations, an egalitarian ethic, an oasis of civility, and escape from cutthroat competition (Getman 1992, ix). Instead we often found an ethos of insistent, competitive individualism—one that promotes individuals locked inside themselves, self-absorbed and preoccupied because linked with others through transactional and superficial relationships. To survive, most of us learned to seek and use power for control rather than collaboration, since any advance by one is defeat for the other.

The consequences of insistent individualism include professors and staff who argue consensual relationships with students do not violate the educational trust or abuse inherent power differentials. They include complaints that students are so deficient in academic preparation and ability that authentic instruction is nigh impossible and not worth the effort. Relations between and among faculty and staff are dogged by combat and score-keeping, by self-display and polarizing discourse. In competition with other colleges and universities, institutions misrepresent themselves in their advertising materials, using doctored photographs and misleading statistics. Athletic contests degenerate into win-at-any-cost competitions, where students leave without graduating. The upshot is that academic community is reduced to a precarious collection of rugged individualists who come and stay together for mutual convenience.

Of course there are many exceptions. Not every institution behaves this way. Even those that do have islands within them that don’t. But who can deny the wide presence of insistent individualism? I suggest this way of life is an academic version of the social contract. It is atomistic: individuals are regarded as basically self-contained, existing in substantial independence of each other and prior to any community. The self has relationships rather than emerges from them. Community is just a name for an aggregation of individuals—detached selves who construct ties with others in a process of constant renegotiation and compromise.

These social contracts convert the self-protection of the individual into mutual protections of separate interests. But contractural commitments are always subject to revision. Connections with others are constructed and abandoned as individual advantage prompts. Calculations of individual advantage predominate and rights must be fashioned to protect against tyranny. Governance systems construct various checks and balances in order to protect both individual and institutional rights, but often paralyze institutions in the process - preventing them from responding to rapid technological and socio-economic change (Longin 2002). The common good becomes only the thin sum of compatible individual goods rather than an object of prior reflection and commitment.

Contract thinking encourages a kind of minimalism - do no more than what the contract requires. Many educators fall into the social contract mentality. Of course, some enter the academy that way. But for others, age, routine, fatigue, and fear of the other contribute to the insistent individualism that develops. Over time, institutions reflect and perpetuate this fragmentation. Not only is this version of the academy not what we initially bargained for. Most of us are unsure how to negotiate safe passage in it. By itself, the social contract hardly provides sustaining motivation for collaboration with others. Its ultimate outcomes are separateness, exclusion, and isolation.

Further, it seems logically incoherent. Individuals and institutions alike seek prestige but are reluctant to share their secrets. Obviously, unless they share something, they have no credible claim. Yet disseminating information too broadly jeopardizes the exclusivity which prestige requires. Others can now pursue these same initiatives, perhaps improving upon them. As with other forms of academic individualism, the dynamic of prestige works against the genuine sharing and mutuality it presupposes, promoting privacy and secrecy instead. Although deeply unsatisfying and logically troubling, this ethos remains. Many are heavily invested in it and unable to escape. Our students seem to learn more about it than about moral and civic values.


There is an alternative. We could think of ourselves, our institutions, and our relations with each other in terms of covenant rather than social contract. Contract thinking acknowledges responsibilities, but it emphasizes boundaries, limitations, and constraints. The covenantal community, though, is rooted in members’ commitments to each other in pursuit of a common good. These commitments are pledges or vows to the other—public covenants of practicing hospitality, of being open in sharing and receiving, of committing to mutuality and reciprocity. Members of a covenant relinquish inappropriate private privilege and independence. They hold each other to higher standards and to mutual, critical examination. Covenants are a deeper expression of personal identity. As William Mays observes, "contracts are external; covenants are internal to the parties involved" (May 1983, 119).

Since our behavior reflects our ways of thinking, we could create for ourselves a more fulfilling way of life - more like the one we originally sought. Covenantal thinking means accepting that we are relational beings to our very core. Only superficially self-sufficient, we are really constituted by the connections we have to others and to whose being we contribute as well. What we receive and contribute, and how faithfully we do so, creates differences in who we are and can be. It is this openness to others that enhances individual and community initiatives, creativity, depth, and value.

Covenantal thinking corrects the atomism of social contract thinking. The common good of academe is not simply a collection of private individual goods. Interaction among covenant members creates capacities and forms of distinctiveness that exceed what each brings to the community. Yet each member of a covenantal collegium honors other members as diverse individuals even in their common commitments and activity. Independence of mind is celebrated, but exercised in community rather than isolation.

Parties to a social contract say "So much, and no more." Social contract thinking diminishes the concept of gift—of freely, even spontaneously, sharing. Participants in a covenantal community are open to the unexpected and the unforeseen, saying "What else can we do to help?" They emphasize the generous and the gratuitous. Each is committed to the welfare of the other as a partner in an ongoing educational conversation.


What would a covenantal life mean for the academy? Consider the following: Covenantally-based educators emphasize learning, regarding teaching as only one among several routes - and one that can advance teacher rather than student power and control (Barr and Tagg 1985). Given their greater knowledge and experience, covenantal faculty and staff actively promote student learning. They do not dwell in a hands off, here it is, attitude. They recognize students as individuals, are flexible, and so address student needs that original syllabi and course objectives did not anticipate. They use pedagogies that "draw out" students so that their own experience becomes a valuable and respected resource, enabling them to find their own voices, to be true to their own experiences, talents, and identity. Teachers continue to learn themselves, and they listen to their students, knowing that teachers are learners even as students can be teachers.

Covenantally-oriented educators share rather than sequester their knowledge, casting it in accessible terms and presenting it to a broader public. They do not dwell in arcane jargon that excludes others, but search for ways to communicate. They view the objects of their research as avenues into, rather than apart from, greater understanding of the world. They are grateful for criticism, knowing that feedback is essential for growth. They willingly support the claims they advance, revise as appropriate, retract as necessary, and do not retreat from scholarly service to others. Practicing scholarship covenantly provides them a way to do what they ask of their students - to integrate the theoretical and practical, thought and feeling, research and the larger purposes of education and life. Understood in this covenant way, scholarship and creative activity relate them to - rather than separate them from - students, colleagues, institution, and the broader community.

Educators who value covenant over social contract know that unless teaching and scholarship serve a broader common good, commitment to truth is incomplete. They practice the required self-regulation—attention to, and responsibility for, the conditions in which learning can be facilitated. They see the award of tenure to bestow a public obligation as much as a private assurance of freedom. As tenured, they are citizens and stewards of academe with special responsibilities for the integrity of their own institutions. They know their primary service obligation is working with other faculty and staff to assure that conditions are in place for implementing learning, teaching and scholarship as covenantal activities. Not everything can be spelled out ahead. As May notes, "a covenant details duties that give specific content to the future, while enjoining a comprehensive fidelity that extends beyond particulars to unforeseen and unforeseeable particulars" (May 1983, 107).

Institutions that value covenant over social contract know they exist to serve societal needs. They are open with truthful information about themselves, rather than secretive. They work with other colleges and universities to improve access to information, whether it be through more accessible accreditation reports or student engagement and outcome survey activities in which they participate. They seek effective consortia rather than unnecessarily duplicating facilities and service. And they nurture their faculty and staff, rewarding collaboration and service in the development of moral and civic values. They let proprietary institutions cultivate the competitive ethos.


We know why social contract, not covenant, thinking is so prevalent. Burdens are already heavy at most institutions - many faculty and staff feel a real need to cut back, not extend themselves. Those who embrace the covenant are often taken advantage of. The same handful are called upon repeatedly for service. Gestures of openness are abused, rather than shared or returned. Generosity leads to burn out. Apprehensions that this will happen lead to more social contract thinking.

Faced with stiff competition among institutions, presidents know that social contract thinking advances their campuses, and their careers. Few boards of trustees or regents reward presidents for covenant thinking - for advancing moral and civic education, promoting consortial interests or nurturing faculty and staff needs at the expense of institutional prestige or productivity. Perhaps few presidents suggest that boards should do more of this. Here too the result is more of the social contract.

The way forward, I suggest, is perhaps also a way back - to recalling education as essentially conversation (Oakeshott 1989). It is in these conversations that we reclaim the heritage we are to shepherd. It is here that we appropriate our humanity. It is here that we share our discoveries. It is here that we remember education is a moral enterprise. And it is here that we break out of our isolation and confront those who have withdrawn or converted education into competition. Replacing the social contract with the covenant is the best way to affirm that education is more than a business. Yes, there are risks associated with covenantal thinking. But this way promises a future worthy of the best of the past.


Barr, R. F. & Tagg, J. (1995, November/December). From teaching to learning—a new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 13-25.

Getman, J. (1992). In the company of scholars: The struggle for the soul of higher education. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Longin, T. (2002). Institutional governance: A call for collaborative decision-making in American higher education. In L. McMillan & W. G. Berberet (Eds.), A new academic compact: Revisioning the relationship between faculty and their institutions (pp.211-221) . Boston, MA: Anker Press.

May, W. F. (1983). The physician’s covenant: Images of the healer in medical ethics. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press.

Oakeshott, M. (1989). T. Fuller, (Ed.). The voice of liberal learning. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:57 am    Post subject: The urgent need to invest more in scientific R&D Reply with quote

The urgent need to invest more in scientific R&D
STAR SCIENCE By Caesar Saloma, PhD
The Philippine STAR 03/23/2006

Scientific knowledge is verifiable, reproducible and impermanent. It is the single most important resource of any advanced society. The late Peter Drucker was able to explain convincingly the vital role that knowledge plays in a modern economy. Drucker is often credited as "the man who invented management (by objectives)." Because the scientific and economic worth of a particular kind of knowledge depreciates rapidly with time, a society needs to develop its own capability to generate new knowledge that enables it to sustain economic growth at a rate that can bring tangible prosperity to its people.

The aim of scientific research is to extend human knowledge of the physical, biological or social world beyond what is already known. In the last hundred years or so, the fruits of research have empowered mankind to defeat ignorance and overcome its innate fear of the unknown. Moreover, scientific research and development has also provided the fuel that drives technological innovation. The continued introduction of novel and better technologies that improve our quality of life amid the intensifying pressures of population growth (in the case of the Philippines) and dwindling natural resources (in the case of the entire world), critically depends on our ability to successfully apply the new knowledge that is gained via scientific research.

This paper argues that increasing the current level of financial support for scientific research makes good economic, social and even political sense for the Philippine government. At this point in time, the increase in funding will be utilized to develop zones that will gather together scientists and researchers from various areas of specializations and allow them to interact with one another. Zones are places for nurturing scientific excellence where focused research endeavors can be pursued efficiently and where the future generations of scientists, entrepreneurs and even political leaders of the country are trained competently and effectively.

Only a few zones will be initially developed and sustained to make sure that the increase in financial support for scientific research will produce the maximum desired effect while at the same time, causing only the least amount of perturbation to the overall allocation profile of the national budget. The investments in infrastructure development, equipment acquisition and manpower recruitment are highly targeted and the measures of progress are easier to formulate and apply.

The zones will be morphed from existing academic entities that have already satisfied the following conditions. First, they have consistently shown a high level of scientific productivity through publications of research outputs in leading scientific journals of the world. Second, they have existing graduate programs that are attracting and producing technically competent PhD graduates. Although only a few, such entities already exist in the country today.

Filipino researchers are highly productive in foreign laboratories. The reason is the environment and not exceptional talent in science and mathematics as compared with other nationalities. Filipino expatriates blossom and bloom because they are in an environment that fosters creativity and original thinking. More often than not, the same well-meaning scientists when they work in the Philippines cease to produce worthy research outputs. They become distracted by efforts to supplement their grossly inadequate basic salaries through administrative work, consultancy jobs and heavy teaching loads. Their enthusiasm will be slowly eroded by the apparent lack of urgency and efficiency in Philippine society.

In its human development index (HDI) report for 2005, the United Nations Development Program has ranked the Philippines 84th among the 177 countries that were considered. The HDI is a measure of well-being that takes into account not only the gross domestic product per person but also life expectancy and access to education of the general population. It is employed to assess more effectively the "quality of life" of citizens in different countries. In 2000, the Philippines occupied the 77th position in the HDI ranking. If only income per person is considered, the Philippines would rank even lower at 96th. China is a significant gainer, improving from 96th in 2000 to 86th in 2005. Norway and Sweden as well as Australia and Canada have consistently occupied the top positions in the HDI rankings – the harsh conditions of winter are not an impediment to a contented life.

The Philippines will be unable to improve the quality of life of its people to a level like that of Japan, the United States or Germany if it does not also have their number of PhDs in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. According to a 2004 report in the journal Nature, the number of PhDs per 1,000 people is 0.3 (one PhD per 3,316), 0.08 (one PhD per 11,621) and 0.15 (one PhD per 6,533) in Germany, Japan and US, respectively. The average number for countries comprising the European Union is 0.18 per 1,000 people. The Philippines with its (extrapolated) population of about 87.9 million needs to have about 7,500 and 26,500 PhDs if it were to possess the current scientific muscle of Japan and Germany, respectively. The real score for the Philippines is about three orders of magnitude below the mark. There are less than 1,000 PhDs in physics in the country today and the number of PhDs is unlikely to exceed 2,000 in the natural sciences and engineering.

The Philippines does not attract foreign direct investments the way its geographic neighbors do because of its relatively low competitiveness and unfavorable perception of risk and integrity. In its 2003 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum has ranked the Philippines 64th, which is below that of Singapore (8th), Taiwan (16th), Hong Kong (19th), Malaysia (26th), Thailand (31st), Vietnam (50th), and Indonesia (60th). The report utilizes the competitiveness index which is a measure that collectively considers the quality of infrastructure, including adequate energy supply, competitive labor, clear and sensible policies and regulations for doing business, and respect for the rule of law. Finland is the most competitive country – it has occupied the number one position in both 2003 and 2005. China, on the other hand, has ranked 46th and 49th in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Thus, a large population of potential consumers alone does not guarantee a rosy climate for doing business. Despite their small populations, the Scandinavian countries are the most competitive in the world because their societies are democratic, well governed, and merit-based. In these countries, goods, services and information are rapidly and efficiently distributed or disseminated. Iceland and Finland are also considered the two least corrupt in the world, according to a 2005 survey of Transparency International.

Filipinos still need to understand more fully the importance of science in national life. The annual budget for scientific research and development has always remained minuscule from one administration to another. Governmental regulations and procedures that have been originally formulated and developed to slow down if not avert graft and corruption, also make the acquisition of research-grade equipment, supplies and materials and even scientific journals and books agonizingly complicated, slow and unnecessarily expensive. It takes so much energy and effort to start a research laboratory and much more to sustain long-term scientific interest among members of a research group. These obstacles are fatal because scientific research is a "winner-take-all" pursuit. There is no place for the second discoverer or inventor. Urgency and efficiency are the primary concerns of scientists and researchers.

The Philippine society, particularly its academic community, needs to improve continuously its expertise to distinguish and celebrate scientific excellence by adopting standards of excellence that are widely applied in advanced countries. A society without a strong scientific tradition tends to trivialize excellence and rationalize mediocrity in daily life. Many Filipino academics must realize and accept that a professor of a university should not be good only at disseminating textbook knowledge (teaching in the classroom). He or she must have a proven track record in scientific research, which requires a different kind of originality and creativity. Being institutions of higher learning, universities should offer graduate programs where a PhD is granted only to a student who has contributed something new and important to the body of knowledge. Graduate degrees are research degrees that are not obtained by passing written or oral examinations that only encourages rote learning.

The United Nations Development Program reported that in 2001, the Philippines spent only 0.15 percent of its GDP on scientific R&D and then allocated even less at 0.11 percent the following year. Over an 11-year period from 1987 to 1997, the Philippines spent an annual average of slightly less than 0.2 percent of GDP to scientific R&D. In comparison, Finland and Sweden each spent more than three percent of their GDPs for the said purpose in 2001. Neighboring Taiwan used 2.1 percent of its GDP for scientific R&D in that same year.

The available information shows that the Philippine government has decreased its annual allocation (as percentage of GDP) in recent years. The reduction was effected against the backdrop of a rapidly increasing national population and a deteriorating foreign exchange rate. The last official census in 2000, revealed a national population 76.5 million. Based on an average annual growth rate that has hovered around two percent since 1948, the projected 2005 population for the Philippines was 85.23 million, according to the National Statistics and Census Board. Between December 1994 and January 2005, the value of the Philippine peso deteriorated by 129 percent in US dollar terms.

A leading and logical candidate for zone development is the College of Science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. The college was established in October 1983 and has the largest concentration of PhDs in the natural sciences and mathematics in the country today. It consists of eight institutes (four of which are national in character) and departments and a research institute. More importantly, the college is the primary producer of PhD graduates and research publications in scientific journals that are considered in the Science Citation Index.

The University of the Philippines System had designated 21.9 hectares of land in its Diliman campus for the Science Complex. The area is adjacent to the incubating UP Ayala Technology Park and the bustling C-5 highway. The complex has been envisioned to encourage multidisciplinary interactions among faculty and researchers by consolidating the locations of the various institutes and departments in close proximity to each other.

Today after more than 20 years, the Science Complex is still an unfinished business. Only the buildings for the National Institute of Geological Sciences, the Marine Science Institute and the College of Science Library and Administration could be considered as, arguably, complete. The new building for the National Institute of Physics is less than 50 percent complete and could not yet be fully utilized. The future building for the Institute of Chemistry remains in the drawing board and so are those of Molecular Biology, Biology, Mathematics and Environmental Science.

An estimated P500 million (~$10 million) in capital outlay is needed to complete the buildings for physics and chemistry and to develop the grounds of the Science Complex. The completion of the physics and chemistry buildings is a clear and powerful signal that our political leaders and economic managers truly understand the workings of a national economy in today’s highly competitive world. The mere sight of the National Institute of Physics building is certain to inspire the electorate (and their children) and fortify their confidence about our nation’s future. Another P750 million is required to build the buildings of the institutes of molecular biology, biology, mathematics, and environmental science.

The P500 million for capital outlay is not huge. It only represents 0.0476 percent of the proposed 2006 national budget that accounts for 17.6 percent of the Philippine GDP in 2004. It is only half of what the Miami Heat organization pays Shaquille O’Neal to play basketball in a single NBA season.

The intellectual capital that will be created out of the small but steady investment to support and maintain the Science Complex will be enormous and far-reaching. The complex will attract and retain the best young minds of our country. It will appreciably slow down the migration of our young scientists to other countries, which often happens after they obtain their BS diplomas. The lack of a sensible alternative has driven most of our young scientists to go abroad for their PhD degrees. The College of Science will provide them with an opportunity to pursue cutting-edge scientific research under the mentorship of senior scientists.

The prowess of our scientists and researchers will enhance the stature of the Philippines as a responsible, confident and productive member of the international community of nations. Their expertise would allow our country to respond quickly and effectively against the threats of pandemics and prohibitively high cost of fuel. A country with an established scientific tradition and a proven capacity for technological innovation, will be resilient to the vagaries of the world economy that tends to vacillate even more frequently due to the rapid advances in the management, access, and distribution of information. The lessons that are learned from the development of the Science Complex are vital in the establishment of additional zones corresponding to other fields of study.

The Filipino culture is a unique one that is distinctly different from those of our neighboring countries. It is an amalgam of the rich experiences that Filipinos were able to gain from interactions with other peoples from both East and West. Creativity and innovativeness are natural Filipino traits, especially in music and the arts. In addition, Filipinos have an outstanding facility with the English language, which is the lingua franca of science today. More than technical training and rote learning, great works of science are products of boundless imagination and exceptional creativity. Just read Albert Einstein. Robots can make high-quality cars with zero defect but they cannot imagine. Only people can. I believe that Filipino researchers cannot only do good science – they also have the potential to do it in such a discernible way.

The Philippines needs to invest more in scientific R&D by developing zones of scientific excellence. The returns will greatly outweigh the initial development cost. Let us start auspiciously by completing the Science Complex at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. * * *
Caesar Saloma is a professor of physics at the National Institute of Physics in UP Diliman. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines. He is currently serving as the director of the National Institute of Physics.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:01 pm    Post subject: A strategy for developing advanced human resources in S& Reply with quote

A strategy for developing advanced human resources in science & engineering
STAR SCIENCE By Fabian M. Dayrit, PhD
The Philippine STAR 03/30/2006

March and April comprise the graduation season, a time of celebration and expectation. But over the past years, it has also become a time of great anxiety as the graduates and their families ask: Are there enough jobs out there? Will the available jobs pay a decent enough salary?

For the country as a whole, there is an equally important question that must be answered: Are we producing the graduates we need to meet our country’s needs? The Philippine education policy
Historically, the education policy of the Philippines has focused mainly on primary and secondary education. This was a rational policy for the 1950s when a good high school education would have been sufficient to get one a decent job. Today, however, because a high school education is no longer enough, it must consider a more proactive policy toward university education, something which our more successful Asian neighbors have been doing.

If the country is to successfully compete in the global economy, it must produce graduates in higher education who are at par, if not better, than our peer countries, particularly in areas of science and technology. Unfortunately, we have not been doing very well at all.

Based on the latest data available from CHED (year 2003), the Philippines had a total of 401,787 graduates in higher education (college and graduate degrees). Of this number, only 4,872 graduates were in the natural sciences (or only about 12 science graduates for every 1,000 university graduates!) and 53,487 in engineering and technology.

The combined total of natural science, engineering and technology graduates in 2003 accounted for less than 15 percent of all graduates. This pales in comparison with countries such as Singapore, Japan and China where science and engineering (S&E) graduates account for over 70 percent of university graduates.

However, even more indicative of the poor state of our S&E in higher education is the number of PhDs that the entire country produces: in 2003, there were only 12 PhDs in the natural sciences and six PhDs in engineering!

The focus of basic education is to teach basic values and to enable our students to read and write, add and multiply. A bachelor’s education is viewed as a requirement to get a job and earn a living. On the other hand, investment in MS and PhD is for global competitiveness. How can we expect to be globally competitive if we produce only 12 PhDs in science and six PhDs in engineering per year, while our Asian neighbors train them in the hundreds and even thousands? Data on S&E professionals
The statistics on the number of our S&T professionals pales in comparison even with UNESCO guidelines, much less those of the leading economies in the region. UNESCO recommends a target of about 380 scientists and engineers per million population. The Department of Science and Technology reported that the Philippines only had 157 scientists and engineers per million population (1992 data). Singapore had 2,318, while Japan led all countries with 4,909.

Today, the Philippines is competing mainly through its comparative strengths in English and the export of labor and domestic helpers. But this cannot continue to be our long-term national aspiration. We must start to invest more in the training and productivity of our advanced human resources in science and engineering. Our pride in the Filipino’s abilidad can only take us so far; it is not a substitute for real abilities.

Certainly it cannot be said that the country has not invested in the training of PhDs in science and engineering. Indeed, there have been successful programs in the past, but they have not gone far enough, and they have not been sustained. I wish to point out some of the characteristics of these programs because they reveal our approach to advanced manpower development that must be changed. In order to put together an effective strategy of developing advanced human resources in science and engineering, we must do three things. Budgetary outlay
First, we must support the development of human resources in S&E as part of our regular annual budgetary outlay in order to ensure its continuity. Most of our advanced human resources development programs have been either supported largely by foreign grants or loans, or have been special projects with a limited timeframe.

At the end of World War 2, our scholars were the American pensionados. During the 1960s and 70s, many of our PhDs were trained in the US, supported by the Ford Foundation and the Fulbright Program. European scholarships were offered by the British Council and Germany (DAAD).

There were modest attempts of the Philippine government to fund PhD programs overseas, but many scholars chose not to return after their studies, or returned briefly, only to leave again for greener pastures.

During the 1980s, the UP-Ateneo-La Salle PhD Consortium obtained assistance from Australia and Japan (JSPS and Monbusho). The Consortium pioneered the "sandwich" PhD program, wherein the students took most of their PhD courses and whenever possible, started their research locally. They then went to a carefully selected foreign laboratory for periods of six months up to two years to carry out their research. They then returned to the Philippines to complete their write-up and defend their dissertation. The sandwich PhD program enjoyed very good success as evidenced by high rates of completion and retention.

In 1992, the DOST spearheaded the Engineering and Science Education Project (ESEP), a World Bank-funded program which sought to upgrade our human resources and laboratories in universities. Unfortunately, this project ended in 1997 and has not been followed up.

Meanwhile, much of the equipment, which was obtained under ESEP, is deteriorating from inadequate maintenance or is approaching the end of useful life.

Today, the DOST and CHED continue to provide MS and PhD scholarships in S&E, but it is apparent from the data that a scholarship program alone is not enough. A much wider project must be put in place.

Because most of our advanced S&T manpower efforts have depended on foreign funding, programs have been sporadic and erratic. This also indicates that the development of advanced S&T human resources is not yet a key concern of government and so we do not have a policy for the development of such capabilities. However, in today’s highly scientific and technological world, such a policy for continuous support is what is urgently needed. Advanced education and productivity
Second, we should widen the scope of support and coordination to include provisions for the enhancement of productivity. Our programs to develop advanced human resources in S&T all end after they have attained their PhDs. The new PhD then returns to an ill-equipped laboratory and is given an administrative position to better advertise his degree. In no time, this PhD becomes frustrated and obsolete.

Advanced S&T human resources development today includes PhD training, and the development of a productive environment. We need to expand the scope of support that we provide our PhDs, especially in S&E where the provision of good laboratories and productive environment is important. National development objectives
Third, we should link our program of manpower development with national development objectives. Most of our concerns now require highly sophisticated capabilities in science and engineering, including areas such as environment and ecology, agriculture and fisheries, food production, health and medicine. While we have already identified and have started focusing on these areas, the scale, depth and coordination need to be improved.

Because such a policy to develop science and technology for national development demands a big investment and a radical change in our educational objectives, it requires political will. At its core, it is a commitment to invest in excellence. Indeed, our investment in the development of our scientists and engineers reflects our national aspirations and the way we view our national destiny. * * *
Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit holds a PhD in Chemistry from Princeton University. He is currently the dean of the School of Science and Engineering and a professor at the Department of Chemistry of the Ateneo de Manila University. E-mail him at
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 7:36 am    Post subject: RITM: Working for public good for 25 years Reply with quote

RITM: Working for public good for 25 years
STAR SCIENCE By Fe Esperanza J. Espino, MD, PhD
The Philippine STAR 04/06/2006

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the research arm of the Department of Health, was established in 1981 as a special project of the then Ministry of Health. It was a development project of the Japanese government to the Philippines through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

It was authorized to undertake activities in the diagnosis, control and prevention of tropical diseases that were the major causes of mortality and morbidity in the country.

The significant contributions of RITM to infectious and tropical diseases of public health importance are discussed below.

• Acute respiratory infections (ARI)

Intensive studies on important bacterial causes of childhood pneumonia (S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae), manifestations, risk factors and treatment began in the 1980s in Quezon City, Muntinlupa, Pasig, and Bohol.

The effectiveness of the WHO ARI case management protocol in reducing deaths due to pneumonia was studied in Bohol from 1984 to 1990.

The result was the impetus for the DOH to implement the Control of Acute Respiratory Infections (CARI) program. From the treatment-based program, preventive methods were studied.

Acute respiratory infection vaccine studies in Cabuyao, Laguna, and Bohol for the past 10 years addressed issues on vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia and meningitis, training of community health workers, improved vaccination coverage, surveillance of side effects of vaccination, and cost-effectiveness of vaccination.

• Dengue

Community and hospital-based surveillances provided epidemiologic, clinical, laboratory, virologic, immunologic, and population susceptibility information essential for strategies in disease control and prevention (including vaccination programs).

This information underscores the necessity of a multisectoral approach to dengue control, and the strengthening of laboratory capacities for diagnosis and continuous epidemiologic and clinical surveillance of the disease.

• Diarrheal diseases

Studies contributed to basic knowledge on local epidemiology and etiology (bacteria, viruses, parasites) of diarrheal disease in the community and hospital settings, and practices of mothers of infants with diarrhea.

Internationally accepted laboratory procedures for detection of enteric pathogens such as human rotavirus, antibiotic resistant Shigella flexneri, and Vibrio cholerae were pioneered in RITM.

A nationwide, laboratory-based food-borne disease surveillance program, prevention and control and risk communication was established.

• Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS

The first case of AIDS in the Philippines was treated in RITM in the mid-1980s. The institution took the lead in raising local awareness of HIV and AIDS through research, training of health care providers, and care of HIV/AIDS patients.

The first surveillance activities among commercial sex workers were carried out from 1989 to 1990.

The natural course of HIV disease among Filipinos was described. An algorithm for HIV testing and national guidelines for HIV/AIDS treatment were also developed.

In 1994, monotherapy for HIV became available, and affordable antiretroviral drugs were made accessible to many HIV/AIDS patients.

The RITM was the National Reference Center for HIV Testing until 2000. A national assessment program for HIV-testing was developed to provide quality control of HIV tests performed by private laboratories.

The National Control Program adopted the use of pooled sera for HIV testing for its surveillance program.

• Leprosy

Prevalence surveys in the National Capital Region in the early 1990s disclosed active transmission in the areas surveyed, delayed diagnosis of leprosy, and under-reporting of the disease.

Seroepidemiological studies from 1988 to 1996 in Culion Island identified individuals at high risk of developing leprosy – household contacts of patients with leprosy. This focused the attention of disease control to this group of individuals.

Chemoprophylaxis of these individuals was initiated and a reduction in incidence of leprosy was observed over the years. In 2005, pilot field evaluations of a rapid diagnostic test showed promise for the leprosy control strategy – detecting cases in communities.

• Malaria

The biological (parasite, human host and vector), epidemiological, social, temporal and geographical dynamics of malaria transmission in the Philippines were better understood through field-based studies in Morong, Bataan from 1992 to 1998.

These led to the simultaneous development and evaluation of new strategies for malaria control from 1993 to 2002 in Morong, and in Tayabas, Quezon, and Agusan del Sur.

These were, among others, community mobilization and organization for malaria control, malaria microscopy diagnosis by non-medical technologists, computerized malaria health information system, and health program management by local governments.

In 1997, the interruption of malaria transmission was documented in Morong, Bataan.

The revision of malaria treatment guidelines in 1992 was based on therapeutic efficacy studies from 1999 to 2001 in various provinces.

• Rabies

In 1990, it was demonstrated in Sorsogon that rabies can be cost-effectively controlled by a massive vaccination of dogs.

The nationwide implementation of rabies vaccination in 1998 was made possible through RITM’s pioneering use of intra-dermal administration of rabies vaccine. This reduced costs of rabies post-exposure vaccination.

Consensus meetings were initiated to update the national guidelines on animal bite management and human rabies.

• Schistosomiasis

Community-based studies in Leyte in 1981 looked at the impact of praziquantel treatment on the prevalence, incidence, morbidity of schistosomiasis.

Cost-effective measures for schistosomiasis control were also developed. These were the basis for recommendations to the national control program for more comprehensive approaches to eliminate schistosomiasis in the Philippines.

Effects of treatment on childhood growth and development, resistance to re-infection, mechanisms of liver disease, anemia and cognitive impairment were more understood.

Fundamental components for the ongoing global efforts to develop vaccines against the parasite, and immunologic and developmental predictors of resistance were studied.

These were hormonal changes during infection in puberty and processes of immune reaction, immunity and nutritional status. A rapid diagnostic test for schistosomiasis (SJ-URIDIP) was also developed.

• Tuberculosis

In the early 1990s, the Camalig Anti-TB Organization in Albay was among the first of RITM’s community-based projects that attempted to establish local health program management.

In 1993, a rapid diagnostic test using nested PCR was developed; it showed great potential in the early detection of TB meningitis.

Clinical, radiological and pathological features of TB infection in people with HIV infection in the Philippines were described in 1994. These helped in early detection of tuberculosis and other mycobacterial infection in people with HIV.

A study in Sta. Cruz, Laguna from 1995 to 1996 established a network of transporting specimens to a central laboratory. From this study, a new TB strain, called Manila family, was discovered. This strain was also identified among Filipino immigrants living in the United States.

• Viral hepatitis

A diagnostic kit for hepatitis B from locally purified surface antigens and antibodies was developed in 1983.

The kit is composed of the following tests: RPHA (reverse passive hemagglutination) assay for detecting viral surface antigen (HbsAg); PHA (passive henagglutination assay) for detecting antibodies to viral surface antigen (anti-HBs); and HI (hemagglutination inhibition) for detecting antibodies to viral core antigen (anti-HBc).

Recently developed is a monoclonal antibody-based enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for detection of HBsAg.

The other significant contributions of the RITM:

• Clinical trials

Clinical trials have contributed to the use of vaccines and other biologicals in the prevention and treatment of rabies, childhood pneumonia, dengue, and influenza, and the management of diarrhea with oral-rehydrating salt solution.

Other studies have contributed to the development of treatment protocols alternative drugs for adult pneumonia, malaria, leprosy and intestinal parasitism.

• Training and post-graduate courses

Medical doctors in pediatric, internal medicine and family medicine residency programs, and infectious disease fellowship programs spend from one to six months of their training years in the institute’s hospital ward and laboratories.

During this period, they gain further experience in the management and control of infectious and tropical diseases.

Regular post-graduate courses and infectious disease treatment guidelines serve as means through which the institute disseminates information gleaned from experiences, research and projects.

All of these undertakings would not have been accomplished without the generosity of individuals, groups and organizations, national agencies, local and foreign colleges, universities and other similar institutions, colleagues in the DOH, and provincial and municipal local government officials. We share their commitment to improve the health and well-being of our fellow citizens. * * *
The author is a Medical Specialist III and head of the Research Coordinating Unit (RCU) of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. E-mail her at
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:35 am    Post subject: From GMA's SONA, July 2006 Reply with quote

"As Louie Villafuerte argues, to step into the future, a country that
wants to be a player in the global economy needs bold and well-funded
research and development initiatives of its own. To this end, we will
continuously increase the budget for science and technology, and
education. For in today's global economy, knowledge is the greatest
creator of wealth."

-GMA, State of the Nation Address, July 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:58 pm    Post subject: PAASE powerpoint presentation to GMA Reply with quote

PAASE powerpoint presentation to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

-presented by Congressman Villafuerte
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 8:36 pm    Post subject: Experts: Technology Could Save or Destroy Civilization This Reply with quote

Experts: Technology Could Save or Destroy Civilization This Century

By Tariq Malik
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 30 September 2006
09:17 am ET

NEW YORK—The continual advancement of technology will be critical in determining whether humanity will evolve into a true global civilization or destroy itself in the next century, a panel of experts said this week.

In the next 100 years, humanity could leap forward into a true global civilization—complete with a unified language, culture and planet-wide technological prowess—but the way is fraught with dark turns like war, terrorism and irresponsible science, string theorist Michio Kaku said at Wired Magazine's NextFest forum here.

"We are watching the birth pangs of a Type 1 civilization and it's not clear that we'll make it," Kaku said, describing a Type 1 civilization as a global community capable of sustaining and controlling its planet. "It's not guaranteed that we'll make this transformation."

For the full article:
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 11:09 am    Post subject: A silver lining for S&T in RP Reply with quote

A silver lining for S&T in RP
STAR SCIENCE By Gisela Padilla-Concepcion, PhD
The Philippine STAR 03/15/2007

Being a mother of five children, I often think of how best to motivate children to do their best and to succeed. Since they were young, I would stress to my children that they should strive for self-improvement. If their grades improved over a quarter, I was happy. I did not pressure them to be at the top of their class or to be first honors. Their incremental progress was more important. Any accomplishment or award earned on their own was enough. I am patiently waiting to see how my children will turn out. A mother is naturally hopeful and I continue to think that my children hold promise.

Similarly, it is hard to measure success in a society in an absolute way. Technological and scientific accomplishments appear to be one good indicator. Using this measure, the Philippines has not fared well over several decades now. We already know the reasons for this. Political events led to the exodus of some of our brightest minds sometime back. Over a long period, our culture and educational system did not sufficiently instill the discipline required for science and mathematics, and also did not encourage curiosity and creativity enough among our youth. Our leaders did not recognize S&T as the engine of economic development and gave it low funding priority. There was no political will to move S&T forward.

Some of us have identified particular weaknesses in our educational and scientific systems. Several have proposed ways to improve our S&T performance as a country. The proposed benchmarks of success are those measured in technologically successful countries: the directions — those identified globally and which have been taken by our neighboring countries — and the thrusts — those in which we may have an innovative or competitive advantage. Many of our ideas are good. The challenge for us is to have these good ideas implemented.

I think there is a silver lining — an "alignment of the stars" — for S&T in the Philippines today. The scientific community has become united in its determination to move S&T forward and we are making some headway. We should not let up in our campaign — our crusade — to improve government support and our own academic performance in S&T. Since we have gained momentum, we must not lose it. Let us thank the private sector, the technopreneurs and technology brokers who have supported us, and hope that they continue to explore and publicize the potential to make good use of some academe-based research.

As in all endeavors, nothing beats leadership by example in science. The benefits of good science leadership are felt through generations. In the university, an exemplary science teacher, thesis adviser, researcher, research mentor, administrator and extension worker can inspire colleagues and students by his vision, dedication, performance and output, and can transform his institute to world-class status. Creating a scientific culture in a country requires a continuity of scientific traditions and the upholding of high scientific standards and practices. Continuity is ensured through the constant mentoring of our youth. And mentoring is best done, not just by words, but by example.

Despite the low rankings in S&T of our universities in worldwide surveys today, I believe we can significantly improve our S&T performance soon. There are, in our midst, science leaders who have led by example — as a dedicated teacher, productive researcher, and effective, visionary science administrator, all in one. These scientists have been recognized for their achievements internationally, and quite notably, their leadership has resulted in an upward, accelerated trend in the number of international peer-reviewed publications, patent approvals, and MS and PhD graduates in their institutes. Gradually, their researches are being explored for useful applications by the private sector.

Indeed, the science is only as good as the scientists behind it. And the more science experts we have, the more competent we will be to produce high quality, innovative and exciting products that enhance our lives; the more prepared we will be to find effective solutions to our food, health and environmental problems. A critical mass of science experts is what our country needs urgently since our current pool of scientists is critically low. The government should provide enough scholarships and financial incentives to attract our graduates to pursue their PhDs and build careers in science. I think this should be at the forefront of our S&T campaign in the next few months.

Many of us spend a great deal of time teaching and doing research in the university. But realizing the urgency to improve the dire state of S&T in our country, some of us have decided to devote extra time for an advocacy to promote S&T.

In late 2005, PAASE (Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering) members initiated efforts that led to what many of us know today as a successful funding outcome. P700 million was allocated in the 2006 supplemental budget for S&T — P500 million for physical infrastructure in the National Science Complex in UP Diliman and P200 million for more R&D projects funded through the DOST. More recently, another P200 million was allocated for MS and PhD scholarships, in addition to a previous allocation through the CHED.

PAASE members had agreed that the single, worthwhile campaign to mount was to increase government funding support for S&T, and the campaign was to be led by local PAASE members. We knew that it would take more than one letter (or a courtesy call to Malacañang) to call the attention of our government officials. In February 2006, we put together documents consisting of a PAASE letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo drafted by our chairman, a position paper written by six local PAASE members on "S&T in Economic Development," individual letters of support and commitment from 60 PAASE members, 50 capsule proposals on R&D projects prepared by PAASE members, and reprints of 70 STAR Science articles.

The documents were sent to the President and some Cabinet members, and to selected congressmen and senators. We requested appointments to see them. We asked foreign-based PAASE members to join us in these meetings and six of them came home just for this purpose. Congressman Luis Villafuerte responded immediately and became our champion for S&T. Through regular meetings in the succeeding months, we convinced him to include a statement of support for S&T in the President’s SONA in July 2006, to bring us to Malacañang to see the President in August 2006, and to have the President as our special guest in the PAASE conference in February 2007. We are grateful to Congressman Villafuerte who made all these possible.

At Malacañang, our presentation to the President addressed several aspects of the S&T problem and five recommendations were made: 1) creation of a Presidential Coordinating Council for R&D; 2) revival of the MS and PhD science and engineering scholarships program; 3) completion of the National Science Complex in UP Diliman; 4) support for R&D programs that would benefit rural communities, particularly the agriculture and fisheries sectors; and 5) increase in public awareness of science.

The President and our government officials have responded positively to the recent appeal of the Philippine science community. PAASE, being a non-government, multi-institutional, non-profit, and purely voluntary organization, was effective in leading the campaign. At the PAASE conference last month, the President updated us on the five recommendations we had made to her. She announced the release of an additional P200 million for PhD and MS scholarships. She signed Executive Order 604 on the creation of a Presidential Coordinating Council for R&D, which will prioritize and coordinate R&D programs, and monitor and evaluate R&D output. With two slots for representatives from the academe, hopefully, this new body will help ensure the relevance and high quality of the country’s R&D output.

As a teacher and researcher, I can now more confidently tell our students and researchers that finally our country is on the right path in S&T. Soon our government will be able to provide them scholarships for their PhD studies. Soon we will have a good working environment with better infrastructure and equipment. With high-quality scientific output and better publicity for our research, soon the private sector may be enlightened to explore applications of our research.

Gradually, S&T in our country is improving. Like our children, many of our young scientists appreciate our mentoring and the supportive environment that we are striving hard to provide them. Many say they will rise up to the challenge to become productive and self-reliant. Soon our efforts at improving ourselves individually and collectively may bear fruit and we may join the ranks of the S&T achievers of the world. * * *
Giselle Concepcion is a professor at the Marine Science Institute, UP Diliman, where she teaches graduate courses in marine natural products, marine biochemistry and biotechnology. Her research interests include marine compounds with anti-cancer, anti-infective and anti-pain activity, antibody-targeted therapy, and vaccine development. E-mail her at
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:12 pm    Post subject: GMA speech at 2007 PAASE conference Reply with quote

GMA speech at 2007 PAASE conference

The Philippine STAR 03/22/2007

Below is the speech of President Arroyo during the 27th annual meeting and the 2007 International Science Conference of the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) at the Grand Ballroom of Century Park Hotel in Manila last Feb. 16:

Thank you very much, Secretary (Estrellita) Alabastro for your introduction. Dr. Culaba, thank you and congratulations on this very important conference of PAASE, and welcome to the many important Filipino scientists from the different parts of the world, especially America. Congressman (Luis) Villafuerte, other officials of PAASE, other officials of the Philippine government, ladies and gentlemen.

First of all, thank you to PAASE, the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering, for dovetailing this conference with the economy. And this is so fitting. I am proud to say that not only did I talk about science and technology in my last State of the Nation Address, but in my first State of the Nation Address in 2001, I declared that technology is the foundation of future economic development.

Therefore, in our medium-term Philippine development plan, among the strategic measures contained therein is to mobilize and disseminate knowledge. In that same medium-term Philippine development plan, we identified as the key challenges in science and technology the following:

• Make science and technology policies supportive of national development goals and policies. And this conference dovetailing S&T in the economy fits into that challenge.

• Enhance competitiveness of the country’s human capital.

• Develop a critical mass of scientists and R&D personnel.

• Speed up knowledge creation and dissemination for greater productivity and job creation, especially to the rural areas, and improve the mechanism and programs to promote and encourage technology-based entrepreneurship.

That was in our medium-term plan and it is still there. At first, the Philippines had little of the huge funds required to meet these challenges. The first order of the day for us was to put our economic house in order and find the funds to meet those challenges.

Thanks to congressmen like Louie Villafuerte, we had our fiscal reforms, our peso strengthened, therefore, our interest spreads went down and we saved P30 billion last year. Because of our savings and because of our increased funds from revenues and taxes, more funds are now being earmarked to strengthen our educational system, including in the basic grades and years, strengthening math and science in our basic education.

And because of these reforms, the Philippines today basks in glowing reviews of our fiscal and economic reforms. Just today, I came from a groundbreaking of a pharmaceutical company and nutritional company in Calabarzon worth $80 million, and they said that they did this expansion because of our economic reforms.

The record-breaking high set by the stock market, the peak in overseas remittances, and the raging performance of the peso are clear manifestations that our economic homerun is in play. Not even the intense politicking brought about by the forthcoming elections can spoil the larger gain of the economy.

Our eye is on the ball as we aim our volleys on better-paying jobs, improved infrastructure, including technology, enhanced social services, the alleviation of poverty and hunger, fighting terror, and nurturing the environment — all of which will benefit from technology.

The Filipino people are shrugging off the past and looking forward to the fruits of steady growth, trade and investment. We must all seize the moment to reach the summit through our unity and hard work, brandishing the Filipino team spirit that has gained renown worldwide.

The Philippines is a team to beat when it comes to excellence, resiliency and staying power in a competitive world. But there are specific challenges we have to contend with. And if I may digress momentarily from science and technology, I’d like to take this opportunity to express that I’m saddened by the fact that the visa hold has been employed on the deployment of our Filipino nurses as a result of the nursing exams of last year.

I am instructing the Secretary of Labor to immediately look into the findings of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools and seek all forms of relief from the visa hold and appeal for reconsideration of the decision. The government shall provide financial assistance to the 2006 nursing board passers for the retake of the exams as called for by the CGFNS with the proper body to oversee the project, including having a common review center. We shall uphold the prestige and excellence of the Philippine nursing profession as we also promote the prestige and excellence of the Filipino scientist all over the world with the plans that we can now have the funds to carry out.

In my State of the Nation Address, in the portion that was drafted by Congressman Louie Villafuerte, I said that the country that wants to be a player in the global economy needs bold and well-funded research and development initiatives of its own for in today’s global economy knowledge is the greatest creator of wealth.

And last year, I met with some of you. I met with members of PAASE along with Secretary Alabastro, ICT and education agencies and Congressman Villafuerte. We agreed on five action plans.

First, a review of policies by a presidential coordinating body. So today, I will issue an executive order creating… there I have signed it… the Presidential Coordinating Council on R&D.

Our second agreed action plan was to expand the number of Filipino science and technology experts. This morning, I had a telephone conversation with the Secretary of the Budget Nonoy Andaya. I instructed him to release P200 million for science and engineering Masters and PhD scholarship programs.

Our third agreement was to establish a science complex. Our supplemental budget for 2006 provides P500 million for a UP science complex. And as we were walking in, I asked President Roman, ‘How’s our science complex coming along?’ And she said, ‘It’s coming along fine!’

The fourth agreement that we made during that meeting was to strengthen linkages between and among the stakeholders of S&T development to speed up technology transfer to micro, small and medium enterprises. And I am glad that Nina Alabastro and the DOST will establish this year four business incubators. I’ve asked Nina to make one of those four business incubators an incubator for virgin coconut oil. We would like virgin coconut oil to be as famous all over the world as Italian olive oil is. And Nina said, indeed, that’s one of her major programs. And one of the incubators will be in Camarines Sur, which is coconut country.

And so indeed I hope to see these four come into fruition this year.

Our fifth agreement was to increase public awareness and advocacy for S&T. I think what you’re doing here these next two days is in accordance with that. And aside from this important conference attended by some of our Filipino superstars in the science and technology field in the United States, I count on the PAASE members to regularly provide science and technology information materials to print media.

This is one of the paybacks of our fiscal reforms — that we can now move toward tripling private and public sector spending on R&D. And now that we are closer to the goal to give a bigger share of the budget for science and technology, I am optimistic that together we can fully tap the wonders of science and technology to achieve growth, preserve peace and improve lives on the longer term.

Mabuhay ang Filipino-American scientists!

Thank you.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:24 am    Post subject: An interview with Dr. Baldomero Olivera, Harvard’s 2007 ‘Sci Reply with quote

An interview with Dr. Baldomero Olivera, Harvard’s 2007 ‘Scientist of the Year’

The Philippine STAR 03/29/2007

Dr. Baldomero "Toto" M. Olivera, the Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Utah, was recently selected as the 2007 Scientist of the Year by Harvard Foundation of Harvard University for his "outstanding achievements and contributions to American science." Dr. Olivera has distinguished himself as one of the world’s leaders in marine drug discovery and neuropharmacology. His work in the last 30 years on peptides produced by venomous Conus snails has led to the elucidation of key molecular mechanisms that underlie nervous system function. Studies on conotoxins led to the development of the first commercially available marine drug in the world known as Prialt or Ziconitide, a natural peptide from the venomous fish-hunting snail Conus magus. Prialt has been found to be more effective against chronic pain than morphine. Several Conus venom peptides are in pre-clinical and clinical trials for pain, epilepsy and myocardial infarction, and many conotoxins are widely used in neuropharmacology research.

In an interview by Dr. Gisela P. Concepcion of the UP Marine Science Institute, Dr. Olivera talks about research on marine biodiversity and shares his views about science in the Philippines.

How can your studies on marine snails contribute to human health and welfare?

The studies on marine snails have revealed a unique source for drugs. A future problem for human health is that the so-called "drug pipeline" has dried up, meaning that drug companies are finding it harder and harder to come up with novel, effective medicines. As the number of older people in the world increases and the discomforts and illnesses of old age become more common (conditions like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s), there becomes an ever greater need for new drugs. The studies on marine snails have not only directly provided a source for drugs, but perhaps more importantly, have revealed how to more efficiently discover new leads for drugs not just from the snails, but from all animals.

Why should we explore the marine biodiversity in the Philippines?

The source of these new drugs is animal biodiversity. The Philippines is in the "golden triangle" of marine biodiversity, where biodiversity in the ocean is greater than anywhere else on the planet. I believe that as Filipinos, we need to understand and appreciate the unique marine biodiversity found in our own homeland; this is of value to society, quite apart from any potential practical applications such as being a source of drug discovery.

How can your studies help the Philippines, including our students, researchers and rural communities?

I hope that the science we have done can be used to help students become really interested in developing a "scientific culture." I don’t think that just because a community is rural, it should preclude young students from being exposed to science as a philosophy, and to learn how to deal with local problems and to explore their own economic improvement by using science. All too often, the lack of a scientific culture leads to superstition, with people feeling powerless to effectively address problems that arise. A scientific culture leads to self-empowerment, a sense that problems can be solved if one is rational and thinks things through.

How should we educate our youth and Philippine society in general about the benefits of science to society?

I think that the key to education about the benefits of science is to do it as early as possible. In the very early grades, students are curious and open; this is the best time to introduce science to them.

What does it take to develop a high-value drug like Prialt from marine sources?

Unfortunately, these days in the developed world, it takes an enormous effort and a huge amount of money to develop a new drug (over $500 million). However, it seems to me that it should be possible to do it much more cheaply in the developing world, and yet meet high scientific and ethical standards. I believe that if creative people think about this problem, we should be able to get drugs for Asia that don’t necessarily have to go through the very expensive process required in the United States and Europe.

Is there a way for the Philippines to participate in and benefit materially from marine drug discovery and development?

Again, I think that creativity is required so that the Philippines can participate and benefit materially from marine drug discovery and development. This should be done by trying to get the best minds talking together: businessmen, entrepreneurs, economists, finance people, and experts from the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and on intellectual property and regulatory matters.

What can the Philippine government do to promote and support research and product development in the area of marine drug discovery?

I believe that there are multiple initiatives that the Philippine government can do to promote and support marine drug discovery. A focused effort to improve the research infrastructure is a clear requirement. Academic programs to encourage research at the leading universities that have research potential is a second obvious initiative. A third is flexible funding to allow researchers and academics who are involved in research programs to connect with scientific laboratories in their field; this does not necessarily mean long, extended fellowships, but sufficient flexibility to allow the coordination of research efforts in the Philippines with complementary scientific programs all over the world. I do not believe that it would take that much to make our research groups part of the international mainstream; one key is to figure out how to reward creativity and productivity, and to decrease rigid bureaucracy.

How can we harness the expertise of foreign-based Filipino scientists to contribute to our scientific and economic development?

I think that there are more and more foreign-based Filipino scientists in the autumn of their careers who want to help out whenever they can. Indeed, many of these scientists are willing to spend their own money for this effort. At the minimum, such scientists should be a resource for connecting local labs to the international scientific community — thus, if a local scientist happens to have a specific technical problem, an e-mail to a group of appropriate foreign-based Filipino scientists could help quickly find an international expert who could address the problem.

What are the major problems and obstacles that you see for the development of S&T in the Philippines? How can they be overcome?

One major problem is that funding overall for science is still inadequate, and the research infrastructure has to be improved. A second problem is the bureaucracy at all levels. In addition, the seniority system makes it difficult for young people with the best ideas to explore their ideas effectively. I think one way to address these problems is to have the most creative scientists get together, to have a pot of research funds for providing flexible funding for the most deserving groups (and if possible, preferentially to scientists who are young).

What are the priority R&D areas that the Philippine government should support in the medium and long term?

I believe that a nascent biotech industry that provides products initially aimed at ASEAN countries (and potentially the rest of Asia) would be a great initial goal.

What are some prospects and areas of competitive advantage that you see for Philippine science?

My hope is that our generation of scientists will be able to initiate a biotechnology initiative based on discoveries from the biodiversity of the Philippines. In my own research, the obvious application has been biomedical. However, I believe that with a little imagination, we should be able to explore all kinds of other applications. Some of the most promising applications could even be based on pests that bedevil us. For example, the traditional practice of kaingin is really no longer defensible given the density of the population of our islands, and its threatened ecosystems. In theory, however, we can convert all of the dry plant material during the dry season (that is traditionally burnt down) into a source of energy — one key to this may be the termites that presently eat up our homes. They have the ability to convert dried wood into sugar, and it is relatively simple to convert sugar to ethanol. Working on the enzymes from termite guts that accomplish this is the type of biotech research that takes advantage of the biological material which surrounds us. Such termite enzymes could be the basis for converting useless dried plant material into biofuel.

Based on your life experience, what qualities and values would you like to instill in our youth that would lead them to follow in your footsteps in science?

I really think that a sense of curiosity and a love of the natural world are important values; in an age when young kids are bombarded with media of all types and have instant access to the Internet, this has become increasingly difficult. It is harder to appreciate nature if you have been staring at videos for hours.

Can you briefly recount highlights and breakthroughs in your life that you think contributed to your success as a scientist?

I can think of three incidents in my life that in retrospect, were critical. The first was that my parents moved out of the ancestral home in San Juan to a new house where we were isolated, with no neighbors at all — since I had no brothers and sisters, I really had an enormous amount of free time. I think having a lot of solitude early in one’s life is an enormous advantage. It led to my fascination with all the creatures that were wandering around in the garden, and also gave me time to read a lot of books.

Another event was that I spent second grade in the San Francisco, California public school system. There was a teacher named Miss Uhler who had the second grade kids do experiments. I remember that it was a very simple solubility experiment, but for me it was a discovery. I went around testing everything I could get hold of to see if it were soluble in water or not. This sense that this was something you could determine yourself, something that you didn’t know before, is one reason why I’m a scientist today.

The third and most obvious scientific influence in my life was a dedicated high school teacher: I was uniquely lucky to have for my first teacher in chemistry and zoology, the late Dolly Hernandez (later the head of ISMED in UP Diliman). There’s nothing more important than an inspiring teacher. The Philippines is filled with dedicated teachers, who really labor under conditions where they get little appreciation and almost no monetary reward. Representing all of the students who ultimately benefited greatly from these under-appreciated and dedicated efforts, I’d like to thank them. I tried to thank Dolly Hernandez in particular by naming a shell after her, Turris dollyae — we are analyzing this snail to see if we can get promising pharmacologically active compounds from it.

You have been contributing to Philippine science significantly in the last 30 years in various ways. How can we accelerate scientific progress further in the Philippines?

I hope that we can work in a much more interdisciplinary mode, which is necessary these days for rapid progress, and in particular, for rapid translation into the applications directly useful to society.

How can the Philippines catch up in the advancement of science with its Southeast Asian neighbors and other countries such as India and China? Should we follow their route or should we explore other ways?

I believe that we should examine and analyze what worked for other Southeast Asian neighbors, and countries such as Korea, India and China. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel; the more we know about how others succeeded, the more efficient it will be to bring progress in science to our own country. However, I think we should also recognize that as Filipinos, we have our own culture, our own particular idiosyncrasies. Therefore it will be necessary to take advantage of the Filipino character and to understand our culture and our character thoroughly enough so we can adjust our plan to develop science in a manner consistent with our strengths.
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 2:09 pm    Post subject: CS recognition speech/ B.S. valedictory address Reply with quote

CS recognition speech/ B.S. valedictory address
STAR SCIENCE By Mikaela Irene D. Fudolig
The Philippine STAR 05/10/2007

Pinagpapala ang Pinagpapalà:
The Role of the Scientist in Nation Building
2007 UP Diliman College of Science
B.S. Valedictory Address
Good afternoon.

Let me start my speech with this quote: "Pinagpapalà ang pinagpapala, at pinagpapala ang pinagpapalà."

For those who didn’t get that, let me literally translate it in English: "Blessed are those who shovel, and those who are blessed are made to shovel." Of course, it loses its lyricism, so I repeat: "Pinagpapalà ang pinagpapala, at pinagpapala ang pinagpapalà."

From the various talks that I have attended, I noticed a general theme: that aside from being good students, which is the primary reason why all of us are here today to be recognized by the College of Science, we should have leadership capabilities and social responsibility. Of course, the fact that we’re from UP sets great expectations.

Do I agree with that? I will make this clear: yes, I do agree. Academic excellence alone is a joy that you will most likely keep to yourself, and if not put to good use, then the University has invested on something for nothing.

The question now is: how do we, as scientists, help in nation building?

I have noticed, again, from the many talks that I have attended, that the common idea of "community service" is Sangguniang Kabataan. Red Cross. Gawad Kalinga. Opinion leaders view community service, which they correlate with nation building, as using physical energy to help the poor. You want to do community service? Solicit money from your congressman and donate a school building. You want to do community service? Help during calamities. You want to do community service? Build houses for the poor.

Again, let me make this clear: These ways are indeed community service. But are these the only ways to do community service? Should community service simply be giving something for nothing? Should community service necessarily involve a lot of legwork? Should the effects of community service be immediate?

Let me ask you now: When Michael Faraday discovered magnetic induction, was that community service?

When James Hutton developed and Charles Lyell promoted the theory of uniformitarianism, was that community service?

When our very own Alexander Edward Dy made it possible for amoebiasis to be tested based on salivary IgA instead of stool, was that community service?

Current conventional wisdom would answer: NO. Faraday had been criticized before for discovering something without practical use. And so what if slow geological processes occurred eons before and continue until now? And how can Alexander Dy’s amoebiasis test serve the poor in the squatters’ area? His method will definitely not give jobs to them. It wouldn’t give them shelter. And it’s not FREE.

But Faraday’s discovery of magnetic induction is what led to using AC power in our homes. It is the reason we can power this microphone. It is why you have lights at home and in the classroom. It is why you can power your refrigerator.

The concept of uniformitarianism did nothing to help the poor, but it helped gain more understanding of the Earth. And it is uniformitarianism that influenced Charles Darwin in formulating his theory of evolution. And I think you know how influential Darwin’s theory of natural selection has been.

Mr. Dy’s amoebiasis test would probably not be given for free. It would not give them shelter, and most probably, wouldn’t give jobs, at least not to the usual recipients of charity. But if amoebiasis can be diagnosed faster simply by getting the saliva of a patient, something which can be readily obtained, then more amoebiasis patients would be cured. More lives would be saved.

The community service of scientists is often underestimated. Our discoveries are often tagged as having no practical applications, of no use in calamities, and of no immediate help to the poor. If Faraday had concentrated on donating blood, if Hutton and Lyell focused on building houses, if Alexander Dy, now magna cum laude, insisted on tutoring every single kid in his barangay FOR FREE, then they would be considered by the majority as excellent servers of the community. But they would not have done what they have done. Where would we be now?

Fellow scientists, do not be disheartened. Our efforts may be devalued by those who seek immediate, visible, and tangible results. But the fact remains: science drives the technology that makes lives better all over the world. Our devotion to our craft, our unceasing search for our holy grail, that piece of knowledge that will change the way things are, is as much community service as the more popular and immediately recognized forms of giving. Let not the pressure to be recognized make us stray from our efforts to improve the life of humanity in the best way we can.

Thank you. * * *
Mikaela Irene Fudolig obtained her B.S. Physics degree (summa cum laude) from the University of the Philippines in April 2007. At barely 16 years old, she is the youngest B.S. graduate in UP history. This article was delivered during the 2007 College of Science Recognition Program where she was recognized with the Excellence Award in Undergraduate Studies. She trained at the National Institute of Physics, College of Science under the supervision of Dr. Jose Perico Esguerra. E-mail her at
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 11:06 am    Post subject: Basic research must orient itself toward societal goals Reply with quote

European Science Foundation
30 May 2007

Basic research must orient itself toward societal goals
Leading science policy analysts urge greater emphasis on community participation
Citing numerous examples historical and contemporary, leading Science Policy Analysts Sheila Jasanhoff (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard) and Suzan Cozzens (Georgia Institute of Technology) have urged a fundamental shift in the way scientific research is carried out.

Speaking at the Science Impact conference, Vienna May 10-11th, Jasanhoff stated that "In order to create the linkages between basic science and the world of applications – the area I'm calling the 'Frontier of Dreams', we need networks that are incredibly heterogeneous – not only because they involve science and technology – but they also bringing in things like the law and other institutions."

"You can be pursuing fundamental knowledge, learning fundamental things about nature, but at the same time generally orienting your research towards societal goals. I do not see it as being incompatible," added Cozzens, who lectured on "Maximizing Social Impact through Science and Technology: Best Practices".

Jasanhoff sought to depict the often unclear, ill-defined pathways from basic to applied science, through a series of examples ranging from the relatively poor-uptake of GM Food crops of the 1990s to the current overwhelmingly negative public perception surrounding the human genome project and the so-called 'genetic revolution'.

"Biotechnology was framed in the U.S. from the beginning as a collection of new products produced through a means of development that did not by itself require scrutiny," she said. "As a result, in America we never adopted legislation for biotechnology, instead we attempted to regulate the products that came out of the biotech revolution.

Her argument is that failure at the market level is often the "result of a narrow framing process and in sufficiently inclusive a democratic process".

Sustainability of Economic Growth

"The challenge here is that economic growth is a very good thing, of course, but it doesn't actually automatically produce the kind of society that we want to live in. It doesn't produce all of those characteristics," stated Cozzens, whose research has delved into on-the-ground impacts of frontier research over the past 150 years.

Her studies showed, for example, that in the U.S. vast disparities have existed when it comes to dissemination of benefits between rich and poor, among ethnic groups, and between men and women. The issues have been addressed over time, but Cozzens feels interventions at an earlier stage could substantially raise the quality of life.

"Starting with the political rise of women in the U.S. through participation in the political process – as females members of congress and senate were elected they looked at huge NIH [National Institute of Health] budget and said – what's in this budget for us" And discovered there were oddities there – a neglect of women's issues including such things as breast cancer research being done on men."

Cozzens drew on further contemporary examples of such disparity on a worldwide scale, such as the high prices of HIV drugs which made them inaccessible for vast swathes of the developing world, which was at the time "considered a scandal by people within the medical community itself and within civil society".

One solution, she said, lay in creating a system of advance purchase commitments whereby a donor coalition of countries would come together and buy a drug before it even came to market, thus ensuring a market for the drug company at a reasonable price.

Such "public sector stimulation of private sector activity", as Cozzens puts it, is the way to move forward.

"In order to create a sustainable society public leadership and public funding has a very important role to play maintaining traditional mechanisms of orienting public research to social goals…public agencies also need to think more about working with industry to produce the kinds of societies that we want to live in.

"What's important here is that you do the work in a way that actually shifts power from the current centre out. If you don't change the power relationship, you haven't actually made it sustainable."
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:09 am    Post subject: Assessment for basic research needs fine tuning, policy expe Reply with quote

13. June 2007 10:39
European Science Foundation

Assessment for basic research needs fine tuning, policy experts say

Assessing the impact of basic science in terms of economic returns can be a futile and self-defeating exercise, according to economist Wolfgang Polt of the Joanneum Research Institute (Vienna).

Speaking at Science Impact, a joint conference hosted by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) in May, Professor Polt issued a stark warning: "Normally we would expect an economist working in the field to say that more research, or even more basic research is needed, but I would say, should we really do a cost benefit analysis when we don’t know the costs, and we don’t know the benefits?"

"I think, what I can offer to the debate is a warning and a recommendation to fence off overly-simplistic approaches to quantifying ranking of research areas, technologies and projects," added Polt, addressing an audience of leading economists, science sociologists and historians in Vienna, May 12th.

Ben Martin of the Science and Technology Policy Research centre (Sussex), in turn, detailed the problems associated with econometric studies, which he felt were too often "used to derive heroic or sometimes simplistic assumptions about the nature of innovation".

He cited several problems with this approach ranging from the issue of causality (the inability to attribute with certainty benefits to specific causes); the issue of timescale (the risk of “over-emphasising research that leads to short term benefits” when measurements are framed too narrowly: after all, the impacts of some types of research are only seen after decades); and the issue of internationalisation of research in a globalised world.

"Similar research going on countries A, B, and C for example might lead to a technological development in A, subsequently leading to innovation in A, also drawing on technological developments from country C, all the while benefiting all three countries in terms of socio-economic impacts," he said.

Other, qualitative forms of assessment such as industrial surveys, and case studies which trace historical inputs to innovations have their place, Martin indicated, but are also limited. Surveys sent to industry to ask about how basic research affects them tend to focus only on large firms, who show bias towards internal activities of their own companies. Historical studies, on the other hand, are only so useful when it comes to moving beyond specific examples into generalised axioms.

Added to this, the tendency to over-emphasise 'codified' i.e. newly discovered knowledge, at the expense of 'tacit' knowledge (as embodied in the skilled workforce, who will implement innovations, for example), makes matters more difficult still.

Wolfgang Polt conceded, however, that "If such [case] studies are undertaken ex-post, they can be very good illustrative examples of different channels that impacts can take"” but added, "this is the remit of historians of technology and the sociologists of science, and not the sole remit of the economists."

A recent study commissioned by the American Competitiveness Institute on the development of the ubiquitous iPod, he noted, illustrated well the circuitous pathways research can take from basic to applied form, as well as the lengthy time-scales involved.

The United States Department of Defence, Department of Energy, National Institute for Health, the National Science Foundation, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Army Research Office had all contributed technology over the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s that, when combined, led to the development of it iPod.

"It helps us to understand how different pieces of knowledge add up and we see the complementarity of different types of knowledge – basic, applied, tacit, codified. In the end we cannot really separate what the most decisive impact is. If you would now compare the profits from iPod sales to the DoD funds into research, of course this would be an enormous multiplier."

Asked about the future of impact assessment modelling, and whether we are any close to a catch-all formula for rates of return, Martin said: "We may never be at a stage where we have an all-encompassing model…[because] that would involve a great deal of foresight and indeed predicting the future."

He added that this should not deter governments from funding research because of the spectacular innovations society would subsequently miss out on, outlining his own methodology for assessing impact based on looking at the overall stock of useful knowledge; the construction of knowledge 'networks' (i.e. between researchers) and stimulating social interaction; increasing the capacity for technological problem-solving; creating new firms and thereby stimulating industry; and the provision of social knowledge that in turn leads to on-the-ground benefits.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:13 pm    Post subject: Food for thought: Feast or famine in Philippine science? Reply with quote

Food for thought: Feast or famine in Philippine science?
STAR SCIENCE By Raul Kamantigue Suarez, Ph.D.

An important question asked in all countries, rich or poor, is "how
should science be done?" This question can be asked at two levels. At
one level, how should governments determine and implement science
policies? At another level, how should individuals conduct themselves as
scientists? A common belief among the public is that scientific
research, like most other things, is under-funded in the Philippines.
This leads to the notion that not much can be expected of the Filipino
scientific community, given the circumstances in which they work to
advance knowledge and understanding of natural phenomena (basic
research) or to come up with discoveries that may lead to practical
benefits (applied research).

In my previous two-part article in STAR Science (International science:
Function, Dysfunction and Flowers in a Grassy Field, The Philippine
STAR, July 5, 2007), I gave readers a glimpse of what it is like to do
science in the US and how this compares with other countries. I wrote
that although the US is a rich country, the investment into scientific
research falls short of actual needs, so even US scientists find
themselves operating in a fiercely competitive, funding-limited system.
I have worked as a scientist in the Philippine, Canadian and American
systems and have interacted with scientists from many countries. It is
remarkable how some of the answers that emerge concerning how to do
science are common to both rich and poor countries.

Bang for the buck

Having just made the somewhat useful distinction between two types of
research, I should now add that it is more fruitful to distinguish
between good and bad science than it is to dwell on the differences
between basic and applied research. The famous biochemist, Efraim
Racker, once said that if you conduct applied research and proceed
logically, you will soon be doing basic research. Conversely, the
history of science shows many examples of how curiosity-driven studies
of natural phenomena led to discoveries that spawned huge industries,
generated employment and tax revenues, or saved millions of lives. It is
therefore more fruitful to discuss whether the enterprise has
contributed new knowledge, advanced understanding or yielded new and
useful technologies. There are widely accepted, objective criteria for
making this assessment; F.J. Lacanilao's articles, "R&D Process" (STAR
Science, The Philippine STAR, May 19, 2005), "Problems with Media and
Scientists" (STAR Science, The Philippine STAR, July 27, 2006),
"Measuring Research Performance" and "Celebrating the UP Centennial"
(available via the Internet at are excellent
introductions to the subject, written in the Philippine context.

It is not in any country's interest to squander taxpayers' money in
support of bad science, whether it is basic or applied. This is even
more so in developing countries where tax revenues are partly generated
from the blood and sweat of the masses. Even in rich countries, it is
argued that tax money is better spent on healthcare, education, and
other social services than on research. Such public discourse is
healthy; to many people, it is more obvious why there should be garbage
collectors than why there should be scientists. In developed countries,
government officials and practicing scientists find that they must
actively promote science, justify public spending on research, and
advertise its benefits to society.

The newspaper and Web-based articles cited above document how, according
to objective and widely accepted measures (e.g., the Science Citation
Index), scientific productivity has lagged behind despite large
increases in funding from the Philippine government and despite large
growth in the number of Ph.D. degree holders. As a result, the
Philippines has been overtaken by many other countries in the region.
More important than just the loss of national prestige is the failure of
the scientific enterprise to contribute significantly to economic growth
and to the alleviation of poverty. Of course, the health of science as a
publicly funded endeavor is linked to the health of the country's
economy and political system. Dysfunction in science goes hand-in-hand
with dysfunction in governance and economic mismanagement. Although good
science is not a cure for all ills in society, the positive
contributions of research and development (R&D) to national economies
and human well-being are well documented. Economists still debate the
magnitude of financial returns from R&D spending. For example, a recent
report tabulating such estimates (K. Gerns. 2007. An economic gamble.
the Scientist, vol. 21, pages 28-34) shows that US investment in
health-related R&D may yield as much as 240 percent in economic returns.
In addition, there are social payoffs that include healthier, better
workers and increased in life spans. More money spent on university
research leads to more money and effort spent by companies to learn the
new knowledge generated, which then leads to greater innovation and more

Given the size of the investment and the promise of positive, long-term,
multi-dimensional outcomes, the time, energy and money wasted on bad
science should lead to analysis of what has gone wrong as well as
corrective action, just as it would in other areas such as garbage
collection, public education, and health care. In western,
industrialized countries as well as in the developing world, an
important feature of science policies that work is accountability on the
part of both the givers and the receivers of public funds. In rich
countries, scientific funding agencies are under pressure to give
taxpayers the most science for their money. They, in turn, put
scientists under even greater pressure to ensure that taxpayers get
their due in terms of both the quality and quantity of science done. As
I pointed out in my previous article, no system is perfect.
Nevertheless, a system lacking accountability, where majority of
publicly funded research projects end with reports filed away in
government offices (rather than as papers published in peer-reviewed
scientific journals) is doomed to promote mediocrity among scientists
and the waste of public funds. To show that radiation causes
developmental abnormalities in plants or animals when this has been
known for more than half a century, or to develop seedless fruits at a
time when other countries are already selling these does not advance the
cause of either basic or applied science. An effective peer-review
system would not allow such work to be funded. Even if funded, a proper
system of evaluation would have revealed that the results of such work
are not publishable in peer-reviewed journals because the science is of
poor quality.

Using bucks for bigger bang

At the level of individual scientists, the question of how to do science
takes me back to 1976, when I became a graduate student at the
University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. One day, my major
professor, Peter Hochachka, pointed out of his office window and across
the street to where a professor named George Drummond conducted
research. Drummond worked in the same research area as some well-funded
investigators in the US, a number of whom were Nobel Prize winners.
Despite a relatively small laboratory and modest funding, Drummond
remained competitive with the best in his field by performing
well-conceived, novel experiments yielding results that always moved the
field forward. In other words, he threw more brains than money into his
research. Peter did the same, became recognized as the founder of an
entire field of study, and stayed at the top of this field until his
death. An important lesson I learned from him is that anyone can learn
techniques and the use of fancy instruments; what is more important
though is to learn to ask good questions.

The lack of expensive, sophisticated scientific instruments is a common
complaint. Peter Hochachka's main tool in the early 1970s was a
spectrophotometer, which we also had in our zoology laboratory at UP
Diliman, and was common in biology and chemistry departments across the
Philippines even during this period. Also during this period, the UP
Natural Sciences Research Center in Diliman had an electron microscope
and various instruments for chemical analysis that put it on equal
footing with major research centers across Asia. That good science
necessarily costs more than bad science is a myth. Famous ecologists all
over the world publish influential papers based on research that
requires binoculars and a personal computer. Such world-class,
hypothesis-driven, ecological research costs just as much as descriptive
work that yields project reports and no peer-reviewed scientific
publications. Research that involves the use of instruments to address
important, fundamental questions costs the same as a lot of work labeled
"research" that involves measurement for the sake of measurement but
yields nothing new or useful.

The care of flowering plants

There are those who argue that lower standards should be applied to
Filipino scientists and the work that they do, that research of an
applied nature should be the primary focus of Philippine science and,
given this, that publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals is an
unrealistic expectation. Those who so condescend may not realize that
the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna is the place of work
of one of the most highly published and distinguished of Filipino
scientists, Bienvenido O. Juliano, whose body of work straddles both
basic and applied science. The Aquaculture Department of the Southeast
Asian Fisheries Development Center in Iloilo, despite its roller-coaster
history and dysfunctional times, enjoyed periods of rejuvenation when it
was home to Filipino scientists who were the first in the world to breed
bangus in captivity and who regularly published in international,
peer-reviewed journals in the field of aquaculture. F.J. Lacanilao, in
his article on the U.P Centennial (, lists
seven internationally published members of the Philippine National
Academy of Science and Technology. Clearly, Filipinos can do world-class
science in the Philippines.

We are told that democracy has returned to the Philippines. If so,
Filipinos are no longer the subjects of a monarch who sits in a palace
and rules from above. Rather, they are citizens whose responsibility it
is to be well-informed, to discuss, debate and to question the decisions
and policies of the public servants they elected. It is not just their
right to hold politicians, technocrats, and the researchers themselves
accountable - it is their duty. In my previous article, I referred to
"flowers in bloom" in the grassy field of Philippine science. This was a
reference to Filipino scientists capable of research of an international
caliber, who want the system to change for the better so more scientists
can truly serve the people by doing proper science. Have elected or
appointed officials failed in their responsibility to provide an
environment conducive to the blooming of Filipino scientists? Have
members of the scientific community been unwilling or unable to take on
the challenge of doing science of an acceptable standard that is truly
worthy of public support? If so, what science policies might help solve
this problem?

The Philippine government is now poised to increase science spending by
billions of pesos in the year 2008 (P. Romero, "Budget for S&T gets shot
in the arm," Philippine STAR, Aug. 6, 2007). A legitimate question to
ask is whether there has been feast or famine in Philippine science. A
farmer does not sow seed indiscriminately on good and bad soil, only to
complain later that his yield was low because he had insufficient seed.
Whether the increased investment will lead to the flowering of
Philippine science or will involve much sowing of seed upon infertile
ground is a good question that citizens of a democratic republic should

* * *

Raul Kamantigue Suarez is a professor in the Department of Ecology,
Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara CA
93106-9610, USA, and an editor of the Journal of Experimental Biology,
Cambridge, UK.
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