, DECEMBER 29, 2006
  (STAR) By Helen Flores - The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) spent a significant portion of its P2.5 billion budget in 2006 for research and development (R&D) in five priority areas which could address the pressing societal problems and provide opportunities to industries and other economic sectors, officials said.

Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro said the department focused on the areas of biotechnology, information communication technology (ICT), environment, alternative energy and health products.

Alabastro, however, did not say how much exactly was spent for R&D.

"In biotechnology, emphasis is on agriculture and health where agri-biotechnology and health bio-industry products toward entrepreneurship and exports were developed," Alabastro said in the agency’s 2006 accomplishment report.

R&D efforts in agriculture biotechnology included delayed ripening transgenic papaya, cloning of coconut genes, coconut tissue culture and plant regeneration, biofertilizers, biopesticides, and bioinformatics.

"In health biotechnology, R&D programs and projects pursued included cancer treatment using new preventive screening strategies, vaccine development, bioactive compounds, biopharming, and bioinformatics," she said.

The DOST also provided greater access to knowledge sources and critical information on disaster mitigation in rural communities.

These included Internet, network and wireless technologies, foundations of computer science and emerging technologies, and applications of digital content development.

On environment, Alabastro said the DOST conducted studies on water desalination, fuel and fertilizer production, biosensors for environment quality monitoring, microbial degradation of plastic and other municipal wastes, and water decontamination using innovative processes.

Computational resources and tools for weather forecasting, disaster mitigation and disease surveillance were also undertaken, she added.

Alabastro said there is an ongoing work on alternative fuel stock biofuel, performance-testing of fuel-saving devices and additives, alternative to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), and wide utilization of new and renewable energy resources, among other areas.

"The DOST, through its attached agency Philippine Council for Industry Research and Development, has led the advancement and application research to find new, environmentally and socially suitable technologies that can meet the country’s energy needs," she said.

"The coconut methyl ester (CME) plant was established in Romblon in collaboration with a Romblon-based farmers’ cooperative, the provincial government and the Industrial Technology Development Institute, also an attached agency of the DOST," Alabastro said.

"While the CME is an ideal and environment-friendly diesel fuel substitute, the project aims to demonstrate technological innovations that could significantly benefit coconut farmers in an island economy," she added.

On health, Alabastro said priority is being given to vaccine development, cancer genetic and herbal medicine.

"Among the efforts on cancer genetic studies were on diagnostic kits for detecting predisposition to specific cancers and on identifying markers and enzymes for breast, lung, colon, rectal and oral cavity cancers among Filipinos," she said.

Alabastro said R&D on vaccine development includes studies on flu vaccine, while on herbal medicine, clinical trials of cogon, makahiya, takip-kuhol and gatas-gatas are being undertaken.

In 2006, she said the DOST implemented 47 contract researches in partnership with private companies.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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