UPLB BIOTECH researcher is first Filipino Young Asian Biotechnologist Awardee

Dr. Rodney H. Perez of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH) has been named recipient of the Young Asian Biotechnologist Prize (2021) by the Society for Biotechnology, Japan (SBJ). He is the first-ever Filipino to receive the award.

SBJ has recognized Dr. Perez for exemplary research in the fields of food microbiology, microbial technology, and biotechnology. He has been studying and researching microorganisms and bacteriocins for 10 years now.

The award is given to scientists under 45 years of age who have outstanding achievements in the field of biotechnology in private or governmental organizations in Asian countries. Dr. Perez is set to receive the award at the 73rd SBJ Meeting on Oct. 27. 

“It is really a great honor to be the first Filipino recipient of this highly prestigious award. This award is a huge honor not just for me but also for my family, colleagues at BIOTECH, and even for the UPLB community, as well,” said Dr. Perez. 

A senior university researcher at BIOTECH for more than five years now, Dr. Perez specializes in the study of bacteriocins, antimicrobial peptides that kill bacterial strains associated with food spoilage and food-borne infections. His most notable scientific achievement is the elucidation of the biosynthetic mechanisms of multiple bacteriocins including a circular bacteriocin from a novel lactic acid bacterium.

Dr. Perez is a recipient of a number of awards for his dedication to science and service to the community. He was given the prestigious Outstanding Young Scientist of the Philippines Award by the National Academy of Science and Technology in 2020, JSPS Postdoctoral International Fellow in 2017, Outstanding Teacher of the Visayas State University (VSU) for school year 2015-2016, and Philippine Senate Academic Excellence Award in 2004.

He graduated cum laude in BS Food Technology from VSU in 2004. He finished PhD in Microbial Technology and MS in Bioscience & Biotechnology from Kyushu University, Japan, under the auspices of the Monbukagakusho Scholarship from the Japanese government in 2008-2014.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the implementation of research projects more difficult. This award is very important to me as a young scientist because this gives me an extra motivation, a needed push to continue working hard and be innovative in implementing my research activities, and finding ways to meet the objectives and targets of the project,” he added.

Dr. Perez plans to harness the power of microbes for the benefit of mankind. He was recently awarded a research grant by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), an attached agency to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), to utilize bacteriocins from lactic acid bacteria against mastitis infection in dairy animals. 

“The idea that my research will, one day, make a significant and meaningful impact on the lives of ordinary Filipinos, motivates me. This can only happen if I generate effective products out of my research, which I truly believe will happen in the very near future. Any award or recognition is just a bonus,” he said. 

Dr. Perez helps change the lives of ordinary Filipinos by developing safe technologies for local food and medical industries. Through his dedication and passion for biotechnology research, he makes small organisms make a big difference. (Art John I. Agapito)

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