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DOST, Italian Liver Foundation, and UPM strengthen collaboration for advancing liver research

Updated: Apr 27




The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Fondazione Italiana Fegato (FIF) and

the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila) are set to explore more collaborative

opportunities in liver research.



Building on the partnership between the DOST- Philippine Council for Health Research and

Development (PCHRD) and the FIF, a tripartite agreement with UP Manila was signed in 2021

to facilitate research collaborations that will support the establishment of the Philippine Liver

Network. This was initiated to address the lack of evidence and research on liver diseases,

despite its significant burdens among Filipinos. According to 2020 data from the Philippine

Statistics Authority, 27.3 in every 1000 deaths are caused by liver disease.


"The establishment of a strategic research program is an important foundation in realizing the

Philippine Liver Network,” said DOST Secretary Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. "It will ensure that

our efforts are guided by evidence, and in turn, will address the pressing gaps in liver research

and prevention, treatment, and care for liver diseases," he added.


 
 

Through its existing agreement, the parties cooperated in enabling research on the

applications of OMIC technologies and artificial intelligence for liver research, as well as

animal and non-animal models for liver diseases.


To date, the Council has supported four completed projects that tackle liver cancer diagnosis,

hepatitis stigma, hyperbilirubinemia screening, and the development of the Philippine Liver

Research Program. Currently implemented are three ongoing projects exploring AI-driven liver

cancer diagnosis, liquid biopsy for liver cancer, and the development of a data registry for liver

This year, a newly-approved program entitled, PHIL LIVER or Promoting Healthy Filipino Liver

through Interdisciplinary Innovative Research Program composed of four component projects

is set to commence implementation with funding from the DOST Grants-In-Aid Program.

Under the PHIL LIVER Program, UP Manila will develop the PHIL LIVER biobank which will

be used for the study of liver diseases, identify biomarkers for viral hepatitis, determine

metabolic markers for chronic liver disease, and examine the liver condition of people living

with HIV (PLWHIV). disease in the country.


 

 

In support of the research efforts led by UP Manila, the pioneering scholars of the DOST-

PCHRD PhD in Molecular Biomedicine scholarship program, Dr. Loraine Kay Cabral and Dr.

Noel Salvoza, are set to work on the development of the country’s liver research roadmap.

The two graduated from the program in September 2023 and are currently working with the

Council as S&T Fellows.



According to Dr. Cabral, the roadmap is important in the achievement of a shared agenda both

within and across disciplines of liver research. “This will pave the way for obtaining scientific

evidence that is key to creating innovations and formulation of future policies to drive

improvements in liver disease prevention, treatment, and care,” she said.


Dr. Salvoza stressed the role of partnerships in advancing Philippine liver research. "As both

a medical doctor and now, a trained scientist, I recognize the vital contribution that our

research partners bring to this collaboration. Their expertise and dedication are crucial in

advancing our understanding of liver health and bridging existing gaps in research." he said.

“We are able to make such significant progress in liver research thanks to our partners from

Italy and UP Manila, and support from the DOST,” said DOST-PCHRD Executive Director

Montoya. “I look forward to more future collaborations that will address the burdens of liver

disease among Filipinos,” he added.


The Philippine Liver Network is envisioned to become a collaborative research hub exploring

the application of various fields of research in the context of liver disease. The DOST-PCHRD

and FIF are aligned in their shared aspiration to renew their partnership and continue the

cooperation for mutual advantages in promoting and pursuing scientific and technological

collaboration. With this renewal, both entities aim to sustain the collaboration to support the

Liver Research Program led by UP Manila which would contribute in the establishment of the

Philippine Liver Network.





 

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