The university is now one step ahead in helping avoid another pandemic with the creation of the UPLB Program for Zoonotic Diseases, which the UP Board of Regents approved at its 1359th meeting on March 25.
The UPLB Program for Zoonotic Diseases aims to enhance research, development, and public service capacities on zoonotic diseases detection, prevention, and response to outbreaks in protecting animal and human populations.
A team of interdisciplinary experts from across UPLB’s colleges have been identified to handle the program.
Most of them are implementing and will continue to pursue their on-going zoonoses-related researches.
They will also seek government funding for new project proposals on zoonoses prevention and control, epidemiology and data science, microbial research, pathology and diagnostics, food safety, animal research, and science communication.
Dr. Jezie Acorda, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), will temporarily serve as the interim program director until a full-time director has been identified.
Dr. Acorda chaired the Ad hoc Committee on the Establishment of the Zoonoses Center at UPLB, which saw through the proposal stage of the program in coordination with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension (OVCRE).
The proposal for a zoonoses studies unit in UPLB was conceptualized during the term of Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., former UPLB chancellor, at the height of the first implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in 2020 and in response to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. It was a brainchild of National Scientist Emil Q. Javier, former UP president and UPLB chancellor.
The new program aims to eventually become the National Zoonoses Center that will have its own laboratories and facilities dedicated to zoonoses studies. It also envisions to serve as a diagnostic testing center that is capable of performing advanced techniques in the surveillance of infectious diseases. The program will temporarily hold office at CVM.
On April 14, Chancellor Jose V. Camacho, Jr. and Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Merdelyn Lit met the program team to chart the next steps of the new research and public service program. Among these is the hiring of administrative personnel, the holding of a workshop that will finalize the new zoonoses studies proposals, and the implementation of necessary administrative procedures to operationalize the program.
Chancellor Camacho encouraged the team to identify other UPLB experts who can join the program and contribute to zoonoses research and public service. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)