The University of the Philippines Visayas will officially inaugurate the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Visayas on Friday, November 20. (Photo: PGC Visayas)

The University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas is set to officially launch the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) Visayas Satellite Facility on Friday, November 20.

Established in 2019, PGC Visayas is mandated to conduct genomics research in the fields of agriculture, medicine, fisheries, and aquatic sciences. The World Health Organization defines genomics as “the study of genes and their functions, and related techniques” which can “identify combined influences on the growth and development of organisms.”

The research hub has been instrumental in the country’s continuing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “It assisted in the establishment of COVID-19 testing centers and laboratories in the region. It conducted online and hands-on training on molecular biology techniques for RNA extraction and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) to medical personnel for COVID-19 testing,” UP Visayas said.

PGC Visayas also assisted the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, the country’s premier facility on infectious diseases, and the Manila HealthTek team which developed the Philippine-made coronavirus test kit.

According to the University, PGC Visayas has already trained 79 pathologists and medical technologists from nine partner institutions in Western Visayas since April this year. Last March, it also lent its RT-PCR machine to the state-run Western Visayas Medical Center to complement the capacity of the hospital.

The facility also serves other academic institutions in the Visayas. “We will be pushing the boundaries of knowledge generation in the region. By partnering with various state universities and colleges, higher education institutions (HEIs), and other research institutions, we will ensure the continuity of this knowledge generation though capacity building investment,” PGC Visayas Program Director Victor Marco Emmanuel Ferriols explained to UP Visayas.

“Equipped with state-of-the art facilities, PGC Visayas will pave the way for HEIs and other research stations to have access to these facilities. The facility offers services in nucleic acid extraction, basic library preparation for new generation sequencing, and bioinformatics analyses,” UP Visayas added.

The genome center in Visayas was founded with funding support from the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The virtual launching event on Friday will be attended by DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peňa, UP President Danilo Concepcion, UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista, DOST Western Visayas Regional Director Rowen Gelonga, and PGC Executive Director Cynthia Saloma.

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