Meet Eva Maria Cutiongco-dela Paz, MD, Newton Fund Institutional Links Grant awardee.

Research topic: Unfolding the genomic diversity and origin of multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the Philippines

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

Home institution: University of the Philippines Manila

Describe your research collaboration in layman’s terms.

Tuberculosis continues to infect and kill millions of people despite intensive global efforts to significantly lower the burden of disease by half.  The diagnosis of tuberculosis an extremely long process and treatment frustrating due to the emergence of drug resistant strains. The University of the Philippines Manila and the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine together with the London School of Tropical Medicine has embarked on a project entitled, “Unfolding the genomic diversity and origin of multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the Philippines.” With a better understanding of how the disease spreads, we hope to develop tools to rapidly target patients with drug resistant strains and to identify resources to help reduce the burden of disease.

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

The people, their expertise and professionalism are the reasons for this partnership.  A basic ingredient is trusting each other to work together towards a common goal. Having known each other from previous collaborations has been a big advantage. Using genomics and bioinformatics to study infectious diseases are new fields in the Philippines and the team needs all the help they can get from the experts from the UK through many information exchanges, data sharing and capacity building activities. Professionalism is the secret ingredient in successful collaborative research partnerships. This is exemplified in the flexibility, cooperation and willingness to learn about the culture of the partner institution in the UK that has made this collaboration very attractive.