Issue of September 13, 2020
Mt. Province
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Bioinformaticians urged to send proposals on COVID-19
by PNA release

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) is urging the bioinformaticians it has trained to send project proposals that highlight the use of bioinformatics in the fight against the Covid-19.

“Because training only involved skills development, we are challenging the trainors and trainees to propose small projects that will highlight their skills in bioinformatics,” PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico Paringit said.

From last year until July 2020, the PCIEERD trained 125 individuals nationwide via an internship program under the Increased Local Bioinformatics Utility and Expertise (IMBUE) project.

Paringit said there was a call for applicants from higher education institutions.

More than P8.8 million has been allocated for the project, which DOST Sec. Fortunato de la Peña described as an initiative well-suited to deliver the specialized bioinformatics training for biologists and health care professionals working on Covid-19.

“(The internship program was on) bioinformatics in general. So its application is not just in health but also in agriculture,” Paringit said, adding that the onsite training was held at the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City.

From May to July, the training was held online with different sets of trainees.

De la Peña earlier said the training program was envisioned to specialize in viral metagenomics for the next-generation sequencing of SARS-CoV2 samples, as well as protein structure analysis and molecular dynamics for drug discovery and development.

“We were referring to drug discovery in general because bioinformatics will provide computational and analytical tools to find the active components to complement laboratory experiment approaches, like synthesis, among others,” Paringit said.

He said PCIEERD has no plan to train another batch of bioinformaticians under the IMBUE project.

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