DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara (Photo courtesy of DOST)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara has called on stakeholders' participation to ensure the success of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

"We reiterate that the success of the VIP is a result of the close cooperation among our stakeholders. Aside from our scientists based here in the Philippines, the VIP also enjoins the participation of Filipino scientists abroad," Guevara said in a Viber message Thursday night.

Seven "balik scientists" are closely working with the DOST for the initial projects of the VIP.

The VIP encourages those who specialize in various fields to join.

Previous DOST scholars of the Science Education Institute, and those with MD-PhDs through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development may find the VIP as the ideal place to serve and give back, she said.

The DOST is also in contact with various organizations and societies in the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry, among others, to find the best people to work with the VIP.

Speaking at a webinar on Thursday, Guevara said the DOST has laid out a five-year plan for the VIP.

However, she noted that the timeline would depend on the passage of the VIP Bill.

"Thus, we earnestly seek your support for the passage of the bill both in the House of Representatives and the Senate," she said.

The DOST's plans include the construction of facilities, recruitment, capacity building, the conduct of the initial research projects, and the development of local and international partnerships and networks, until such time that the VIP is fully operational.

She noted that expected output from the initial research work includes local virus strains databank, and diagnostic protocols and tools.

Last year, Guevara reported that the PHP284 million virology research and development (R&D) fund was approved.

On Thursday, she said the fund has been allocated for six projects focusing on viruses in animals, which may become zoonotic and transferred to humans; rapid detection of the African swine fever (ASF) virus in the field and yield results; tomato yellow leaf curl virus, which infects tomatoes, beans, pepper, tobacco, cucumbers, and other important crops; use of viruses to mitigate the problems of bacterial infections; detection of food and waterborne pathogens; and treatment of bacterial infection.

With the help of technical advisors and technical panel members, six projects will be implemented to start the VIP program in partnership with several institutions.

These projects encompass the fields of human, animal, and plant virology, as well as the research areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

"Since we cannot do this alone, we emphasize that we seek the cooperation of everyone," Guevara said. (PNA