Greatest Achievement in Research So Far

9:32:00 AM

I fell in love with research when I was in college. I finished BS Biology in UP Diliman. I am very thankful to the Institute of Biology because my experience from this institute taught me to always be curious about things, ask questions and do research to get answers for the questions I asked. I remember that we had to do special projects for most of our major subjects in Biology. We had to come up with a proposal, do the experiment and present the results. Some of our special projects back then made it through international publications. Our professors from the institute served as our role models. Most of our professors have their own laboratories and are involved in doing a lot of researches. I did my undergraduate research under Dr. Sonia Jacinto and my thesis experience helped me to appreciate research more. I was inspired by Maam Sonia's dedication to cancer research. She's a very hands on research adviser. We always have a regular thesis progress meeting, she would always ask us for updates, she's kinda strict with deadlines (I remember her saying "Beat the deadline or I will beat you") of course she was just joking but because of that I learned the discipline of submitting research outputs on time. 

I was in a crossroad when I was about to finish my undergraduate degree in UP Diliman. Being a doctor is my greatest dream, I am convinced that God can maximize my talents and gifts in the field of medicine. The only thing that hindered me back then was my love and interest in research. I had to decide then whether I will go to medical school or continue graduate studies in Biology. Praise God because of the MD-PhD Molecular Medicine program of the UP College of Medicine, I was able to pursue two things that I love: medicine and research.

The MD-PhD program is not a perfect program. It is still in its early years and things are still being improved. But I cannot argue with the fact that this program helped me to love research more. It opened a lot of doors for me. The professors pushed me and encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone and do research.

This academic year, we had a research requirement for our Therapeutics 201 subject. Basically we had to come up with a pharmacology-related research. The class was divided into eight groups, with 20 members per group. Our group (Rubio - Tiam-lee) was assigned to Dr. Connie Sison and Dr Raymond Oliva. Long story short, we decided to work with Drosophila melanogaster which is an animal model used for a lot of neurological studies. The group decided to get Dr. Paul Medina as our research co-adviser because of his expertise in basic neuroscience research and the use of invertebrates as animal models for biomedical researches.

It was actualy a gamble going against the tide of using rats or mice as animal models for biological studies. Invertebrates were never popular as animal models in pharmacological screening studies, well at least in the Philippines. But the group pushed through with the project and we successfully defended our research proposal. Basically the group worked with an endemic plant and tested its neuroprotective properties against ethanol-induced neurotoxicity in D. melanogaster. One of the greatest reasons why we worked hard for this project to be approved was to make a statement that there is no perfect animal model. Rats and mice are not the only animal models especially for screening studies. D. melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans,  Daphnia, planaria and yeast are also recognized and widely accepted in the scientific community as animal models for biological screening.

The other main reason for pursuing this study was to arouse the interest of my groupmates in research. I became more inspired to continute the research when I saw that my groupmates were very interested in doing a neuroscience research. Some of my groupmates became more interested when we discussed the experimental design, that we will be assessing learning and short-term memory functions of the flies to determine neuroprotection. I am not sure how many institutions or laboratories in the Philippines are doing neuroscience research. I am also not familiar with other laboratories using different animal models for research. It was something new for us.

We experience a lot of challenges doing and finishing our research with D. melanogaster. We had to spend several overnights in the laboratory. We had to sacrifice our time and work in the lab instead of studying books and transes for our exams. We were in the lab almost every day of the week. But I was blessed to have awesome assistant leaders and groupmates. We just enjoyed every moment in the laboratory. I never heard any violent reactions from them. Saluhan talaga! I hope they learned something from our lab sessions. I hope they appreciated research more through our Ther 201 research.

We're still waiting for the lifespan assay to end. But we're finished with all the behavioral assays. We were able to defend the results of our study to the faculty of Pharmacology and Toxicology. It was all by God's grace that we were able to defend the research successfully. I was thrilled and amazed by the reactions of my classmates while I was presenting our research to the whole class and the faculty. Some of them became interested in the research. We got good comments from them but more than the recognition, what made me really happy was that through Ther 201 research, some of our classmates were inspired to consider doing research in the future or at least arouse their interest in research.

That was my goal. That was the goal of the MD-PhD students of the UP College of Medicine. We want to encourage our classmates from the MD program to also appreciate research and realize its importance and use in medical practice. I had a recent conversation with one of my classmates. He told me that he started to appreciate research when I presented our Ther 201 research in class. He realized a lot of things can be done and discovered through research. He asked me to help him in research so when he goes back to his province for medical practice in the future, he can do researches that will be beneficial to his community. I consider this as my greatest achievement in the field of research so far.

Thank you Ther 7 for your dedication, support and effort. So much love for this group.

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