In celebration of its 80th Foundation Anniversary on December 8, 2013, the DOST National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) named Dr. Joseph R. Cumagun, a Professor 6 and Scientist II from the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna, as the 2013 Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Awardee for his exceptional researches in molecular biology and plant pathology.
Aside from the characterization of the Philippine Trichoderma strains, a type of fungus found in soil and used as bio-control agent versus plant diseases, Dr. Cumagun’s other studies include one that led to the mapping and identification of important wheat genes that control the pathogenicity, aggressiveness, and mycotoxin production of Fusarium graminearum, a species of fungi that causes Fusarium head blight disease which attacks and destroys wheat crop.This study may help plant breeders in producing wheat varieties with high resistance against the destructive fungi.
Dr. Cumagun also discovered that the third wheat gene, known as Rwt3 may be harnessed against Magnaportheoryzae, another type of fungus that causes blast disease that ravages cereal crops. With the identification of this gene, wheat cultivars with high resistant against blast disease may be developed. This is considered as very efficient, convenient, and environment-friendly way of controlling said cereal-damaging fungus.
Dr. Cumagun is the 11th recipient of DOST NRCP Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Award since its institution in 1989. He will receive the Medallion of Excellence and PhP25,000.00check in the awarding ceremony to held on December 5, 2013 at the Traders Hotel, Pasay City.
National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz, NRCP president. with the members of the NRCP Governing Board and Dr. Isidro C. Sia, chair of the NRCP Medical Sciences Division, will lead the momentous activity.
THE DR. EUSEBIO Y. GARCIA AWARD
Revived this year for the DOST-NRCP’s 80th founding anniversary, the Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Award is open to all Filipino scientists (members or non-members of DOST-NRCP) who reside in the Philippines and conduct research on molecular biology and molecular pathology. The criteria for the award include originality, potential application, scholarliness, uniqueness, and with great impact to the said fields.
Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia was a world-renowned scientist. He finished his Doctor of Medicine and Certificate in Public Hygiene in 1932 and 1933 respectively at the University of the Philippines. He became a guest scientist at Tulane University School of Tropical Medicine in Louisiana, and research fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation Malaria Research Laboratory in Talahassee, Florida.
He became an international scholar by election to the international scholastic fraternity of Phi Kappa Phi. He was a Professor at UP College of Medicine and Manila Central University until he retired. He published about 250 research works in both local and foreign scientific journals.
One of his published works was cited “The First Asian Winner of the International A. Cressy Morrison Prize for Natural Science”, the highest award of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1947. Another paper won a gold medal and diploma of merit for the invention of “salvaara” in the first annual convention of Filipino inventors in 1965.
In 1985, Dr. Garcia noticed the dearth of local research on molecular biology and molecular pathology, which according to him, “is critical to the development of strategies in combating emerging diseases and bacteria.” He then donated Php100,000 as initial funds for the award program to encourage more Filipino researchers to do more studies on the said fields. When it was implemented in 1989, NRCP named the award after him.
PREVIOUS 10 AWARDEES
1989: Dr. Saturnina C. Halos for pioneering work in molecular biology on cloning of cellulose genes, restriction mapping of plasmids, and the development of simplified method of examining gene products.
1996: Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo, for outstanding research in molecular genetics and molecular biology, which include genetic engineering, development of herbicide resistant transgenic crops, detection and analysis of genetic polymorphism in Xanthomonasorysae pv. Oryzicola using REP-PCR, modification of non-radioactive method for membrane-base nucleic acid detection; and protoplast formation, regeneration and fusion in Bacillus polymexa, resulting in the development of a method used in genetic analysis and mapping of the biosynthetic genes of polymyxin.
1998: Dr. Filipinas F. Natividad, for her outstanding research on the molecular biology of various protozoans including ciliates and parasitic as well as opportunistic amoebae; dynamic leadership in establishing and managing the modern biomedical research facility at SLMC; and for establishing effective international linkages that resulted to expansion of research orientation and upgrading of molecular biology research in the country.
2000: Dr. Ameurfina D. Santos, for developing efficacious antibodies for medical therapy and diagnosis, and for generation and characterization of single-gene-encoded single-chain-tetravalent anti-tumor antibody.
2001: Dr. Narceo Bajet, for discovering the genome of the bean golden mosaic virus — the first discovered plant virus containing a single-stranded DNA; isolation and closing of sub-genome RNA of tungro spherical virus, and determination of the variability of rice tungro bacilli form virus. The award also considered his continuous research on single-stranded DNA infecting Philippine crops that include banana bunchy-top and steak, and Gemini viruses of tomato and squash among others.
2002: Dr. Gisela P. Concepcion, for outstanding and creative research work in the use of indigenous Quinone metabolites from Xestospangia sp. and Zyzzya sp. sponges, correlating its tumor cytotoxicity and DNA topoisomerase II inhibitory activity; isolation and screening of potential anti-malarial marine natural products (Crambescidins), and antimicrobial metabolites of marine microorganisms associated with marine organism.
2003: Dr. Bernadette D.L. Libranda-Ramirez, for her significant contribution as research team leader that produced new knowledge and understanding of the molecular epidemiology of hepatitis G virus infection in the Philippines.
2004: Dr. Luz P. Acosta, for her pioneering work in the development of a sensitive immunoassay method for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis which would have tremendous impact on schistosomiasis control in the country. She was also cited for her commitment to schistosomiasis research and to public health especially among Filipinos afflicted with schistosomiasis.
2005: Dr. Cynthia T. Hedreyda for her outstanding researches on molecular and biotechnology involving the search for unique gene markers and development of DNA-bases protocols crucial in the identification, classification, and detection of target genes in bacteria of genetically modified genes of corn and soybean – useful to food, agricultural, and fisheries industries.
2006: Dr. Rita P. Laude and Mr. Marni E. Cuenco, for their pioneering research which resulted in three major highlights, namely: gene discovery, isoform discovery, and establishment of an ontogenetic pattern of expression in coconut, which were utilized as bases for the establishment of the Molecular-based Coconut Standard for the improvement of the current coconut technologies and standardization of virgin coconut oil production in the country.