The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in collaboration with the United States Government (US) and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced Dr. Maria Ruth Pineda-Cortel of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) as the country’s finalist for the annual Science Prize for Women last April 27.
Dr. Pineda-Cortel, a Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) scholar, was chosen as finalist for her project on gestational diabetes.
Conducted with support from DOST-PCHRD together with nine graduate students from UST, Dr. Pineda-Cortel’s project entitled, “Blood and placental gene expression in gestational diabetes mellitus: potential identification of early biomarkers” aims to identify biomarkers that can be predictive of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or glucose intolerance during pregnancy.
“I am hopeful for a healthcare system that prioritizes preventive healthcare for pregnant women,” Dr. Pineda-Cortel says. “Although GDM is a transient condition, it has long term effects on both the mother and the baby, such as the future development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and risk of obesity,” she added.
The disease can cause complications during pregnancy that may lead to premature birth, high blood pressure, low blood sugar, diabetes, or in worst-case scenarios, stillbirth. Studying potential biomarkers of GDM will help identify those who are at risk earlier, and in turn contribute to the development of strategies that may improve health and maternal pregnancy. The project was participated by pregnant women in different tertiary hospitals and private clinics in Metro Manila.
“Dr. Pineda-Cortel’s project is an example of how we utilize OMIC technologies for health to advance health research for the development of targeted diagnostics which may contribute to better healthcare solutions in the country, particularly in improving Filipino maternal health,” DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya says.
Along with other national finalists from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Dr. Pineda-Cortel’s project on GDM will be evaluated for the selection of two regional finalists for the pitch competition in Lao PDR in June 2020.
The annual ASEAN-U.S. Science Prize for Women seeks to recognize exceptional women who are engaged in research or are promoting activities related to preventive healthcare in the region and who are role models for other women working in and pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.