Meet Maria Anita Mascarenas-Bautista, PhD, Newton Fund Researcher Links Grant awardee.

Research topic: Genomics of Infectious Diseases

Host institution / UK university: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Home institution: Philippine Genome Centre

What is your proposed research topic/title of your collaboration?

It was a fruitful collaboration between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine experts (LSHTM) and the Philippine Genome Center staff. The workshop on genomics (concerns the sequencing and analysis of an organisms entire set of genes) of bacteria causing an infectious disease (ID) had 119 participants who attended the symposia on ID genomics and control, and the hands-on analytical/computational short course in genomic data analysis. 

What is the relevance of your research to the Philippines’ economic development and/or social welfare?

My activities do not have direct impact on economic development, welfare and poverty issues in the Philippines as I am particularly involved in basic science researches. I do, however, think that basic research forms the backbone for many applied innovations, and therefore ought to be considered a fount of growth.

How will your UK collaboration contribute to your home institution’s research goals?

The Philippines embarks on genomics through the Philippine Genome Center (PGC). On infectious diseases (ID), genomic technology has emerged as a way to perform surveillance, rapidly identify resistance development pathogens, and assist ID control measures. The Philippines, however, has shortage in the capacity to utilize and deploy the technology. This Newton workshop has addressed this new need by combining the ID expertise at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) with the PGC and provided understanding of genome interpretation and analysis, applied to emerging ID and drug-resistant pathogens. The workshop briefed, through lectures, 119 researchers and trained 40 participants out of the 119 on analytical and operational capacity in the use of genomics, applied in particular to surveillance, control and management of ID. It also improved the capacity of our in-house genomicists and bioinformaticians in terms of the specific application of the learned technology on ID.

It has improved the capacity of our in-house and local genomicists and bioinformaticians in terms of the specific application of the learned technology on infectious diseases. As for me, the collaboration opens up many more opportunities for partnerships with LSHTM and among our local scientists. On continuing the collaboration, LSHTM has another approved Newton project with similar nature; this is an off-shoot of the first collaboration. 

What about the UK influenced your decision to collaborate with your partner institution?

Mutual interest in the capacity and skills building and development and in enhancing cooperation among scientists and researchers of the UK institution, the Philippine Genome Center and the participants from selected Philippine institution enabled the partnership towards attaining the goals of our approved Newton-DOST funded project.