Low-cost COVID-19 test developer among 11 Filipinos in top 100 Asian scientists

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 13 2020 08:18 AM | Updated as of Oct 14 2020 04:30 AM

Filipinos in 2020 Asian Scientist 100 list: Alicia Aguinaldo, Carlo Arcilla, Joselito R. Chavez, Raul Destura, Robert Dizon, Alonzo Gabriel, Susan Gallardo, Cleotilde Hidalgo-How, Emil Q. Javier, Emma Sales, and Raymond Tan. Compilation from Asian Scientist & DOST

MANILA - The scientist behind the Philippines' first locally developed testing kit for COVID-19 is one of 11 other Filipinos recognized as part of Asia's "most outstanding researchers" for the year by a regional science magazine.

The Asian Scientist magazine's 100 list for 2020 also included 2 executive directors of Philippine science agencies and a National Scientist.

Dr. Raul Destura of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila was cited for creating the "faster, more affordable, accessible" Biotek-M dengue diagnostic aquakit.

Dubbed a "lab in a mug", the Biotek-M can be used within an hour to detect dengue from the onset of a patient's fever.

Destura's work on the diagnostic kit since 2010 also landed him a 2019 presidential recognition.

Earlier this year, Destura led the NIH and the UP Philippine Genome Center in developing a local real-time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) detection kit for COVID-19.

The GenAmplify test kit manufactured by Destura's company Manila HealthTek, Inc. was touted to be a cheaper alternative to imported tests in the drive to test more Filipinos for the coronavirus.

While initially recalled due to raw material contamination, the UP-developed testing kit was declared ready for commercial use by the Department of Health (DOH) in July.

DOST EXECS IN LIST

Also part of the Asian Scientist's "best and brightest" list are Robert Dizon and Carlo Arcilla, who head two agencies under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Dizon, executive director of the DOST Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC), received the Mario Cruel Award for his work on the torque mode configuration for the multiple variable frequency drives that came to be used in 3 DOST transportation projects: the Hybrid Electric Train, the Automated Guideway Transit System, and the Hybrid Electric Road Train.

Arcilla, meanwhile, heads the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI). He received the Gregorio Zara Award for his contributions in mineral resource development, water management, and peaceful nuclear energy applications in the country.

National Scientist Emil Javier was recognized for his pioneering work as a plant geneticist and agronomist. Aside from his promotion of innovations for farmers and fisherfolk, Javier was also cited for academic leadership, having been president of the UP.

Other Filipino scientists in the 2020 list are:

  • Alicia Aguinaldo of the University of Santo Tomas
  • Emma Sales of the University of Southern Mindanao
  • Cleotilde Hidalgo-How of UP Manila
  • Joselito Chavez of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute
  • The late Alonzo Gabriel of UP Diliman
  • Raymond Tan of De La Salle University
  • Susan Gallardo of De La Salle University.

This year's list also has 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry recipient Akira Yoshino of Japan, creator of the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985.

The Asian Scientist 100 list recognizes researchers from Asia who received a national or international prize in the preceding year for their research.

The list's honorees may also be included for having "made a significant scientific discovery or provided leadership in academia or industry."

Since the list was formed in 2016, 42 Filipinos have already been included.