DOST awards UP prof for research on disease-causing microbes

By , on January 23, 2015


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Dr. Windell L. Rivera, associate professor of microbiology of the University of the Philippines(UP) Diliman, won the 2014 National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Eusebio Y. Garcia Recognition Award for Molecular Biology and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Rivera received the award during the NRCP’s “Symposium on Dengue Researches and 81st Founding Anniversary” held last month at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila. This conferment also earned him the NRCP Medallion and Plaque of Excellence and a cash prize of P25,000.

Dr. Rivera ranks among the most celebrated local medical scientists and experts on molecular biology of various disease-causing microorganisms. His pioneering work in parasitology significantly augmented limited information on a variety of pathogens, in particular, the locally abundant swine-derived Balantidium coli, a harmful protozoan which Dr. Rivera successfully characterized at ultra structural and molecular levels.

Another of Dr. Rivera’s earliest and most significant works was his molecular differentiation of pathogenic and non-pathogenic species of Entamoeba, a microbe morphologically indistinguishable under the microscope that has caused many misdiagnoses in the Philippines, especially in rural areas.

Dr. Rivera’ssubsequent researches on other pathogens, such as Blastocystis hominis, Trichomonas vaginalis, Salmonella spp, Cryptosporidium spp., among several others, have likewise provided useful baseline data and paved the way for future medical studies.

Nowserving as director of the UP Natural Sciences Research Institute, Dr. Rivera has published, so far, an impressive roster of 49 foreign-indexed researches, particularly in Thomson Reuters and Scopus. He also published eight research notes in several high-impact international journals, exemplifying Filipino ingenuity in S&T and research. This feat also recently earned the professor distinction as the “most cited author in the whole UP System.”

A true educator, Dr. Rivera has ensured that his researches are effectively communicated to students. In UP, he continues to inspire a new line of young scientists to tread on with their careers and likewise help them produce quality researches. It is no surprise that he is now a favorite thesis adviser of undergraduate and graduate students at the UP College of Science.

“Yearly we honor exemplary Filipino scientists and researchers—mostly members of NRCP—because awards like the Eusebio Y. Garcia Award impress on our country’s gems that society looks up to them and their achievements,”said Dr. Carina G. Lao, NRCP executive director.

“More than to just say ‘keep up the good work’, we also want to inspire and encourage the next line of researchers to push on in theirpursuitofacademic and research excellence,” Dr. Lao added.

“I am deeply honored and my sincerest gratitude to the NRCP. I did not make the journey here alone because I share this with my graduate students and research associates who supported my curiosities in understanding the molecular biology of protozoan parasites common in the Philippines,” said Dr. Rivera.

“While awards are wonderful to receive, just knowing that the hard work I’m doing in the lab has an impact to the society is truly reward enough. Receiving the 2014 Eusebio Y. Garcia Award somehow validated the value of our work in the laboratory,” he added.

Since 1989, a total of 12 individuals who excelled and gave outstanding contribution to molecular biology and pathology have been awarded by NRCP.The Philippines’premier collegial advisory body in basic research named the said award after a distinguished Filipino scientistwho was among the pioneering medical researchers in the country. Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia is also known as “the first Asian Winner”of the International A. Cressy-Morrison Prize for Natural Science in 1947, the highest award of the New York Academy of Sciences at that time.