Bicolana scientist: I want the PH to reap benefits of science


LONDON--“I want to return to the Philippines to train future scientists,” said Bicolana scientist Jhalique Jane Fojas who is currently completing her PhD in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (Neurophysics) from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom (UK). Fojas is also pursuing a Masters of Medical Sciences degree in Clinical Investigation (Neurology and Neuropsychiatry) at Harvard University in the US.

Philippine Ambassador Antonio Manuel Lagdameo received Fojas at the chancery on 08 August 2018 when she visited the Embassy to discuss the developments of an initiative she and another Filipino student, Reg Lagaac, have been pushing for in the past two years. Through the efforts of Fojas and Lagaac, the Cambridge Global Health Partnership group will be bringing their technology and expertise to three hospitals in the Philippines, particularly in Legazpi, Bacolod, and Davao. The group aims to provide free world-class medical services to the poorest communities in these areas.

This is only the start of Fojas’ dream to make a difference in the lives of Filipinos through science. Having been educated in Harvard Medical School and Cambridge University after obtaining her bachelor’s degree from the University of the Philippines, Fojas is passionate about using what she has learned from two of the world’s most prestigious universities in making quality healthcare accessible to all.

During her stint in Cambridge, Fojas developed a non-invasive device to treat drug addiction. According to Fojas, a similar device was approved in the UK to treat Parkinson’s disease. She has also been working on a project to bring psychiatry to the community in an effort to zap the stigma many people today still associate with obtaining treatment for issues in mental health.

“Funding and opportunities remain a big challenges,” Fojas disclosed when asked about the challenges that young scientists like her are confronted with in their pursuit to bring knowledge, technology, and innovation home. “We also need a collaborative space where we, overseas Filipino scientists, can gather in to share what we have learned from our work. That is one of my dreams—to establish a national laboratory.”

Ambassador Lagdameo lauded Fojas’ determination in seeing her dream through. “The Philippine Embassy supports the work undertaken by our overseas Filipino scientists. We are here not only to listen but to provide links and to establish meaningful partnerships and networks knowing fully well that for scientific work to flourish, it must be fuelled by strong collaborations that transcend nationality or geographic boundaries.”

Ambassador Lagdameo underscored the high calibre of overseas Filipino scientists and how the indelible marks they have made in their respective fields. “Through the trails they have blazed in both the natural and social sciences, overseas Filipino scientists have made an impact in their respective fields that have advanced the global scientific agenda.”

Fojas is set to meet with representatives from the Philippine Department of Health towards the end of the year before the full implementation of the medical mission. After which, she returns to Harvard Medical School to complete her studies.

Consul General and Deputy Chief of Mission Senen T. Mangalile and Third Secretary and Vice Consul Stacy Danika Alcantara-Garcia participated in the discussion during Fojas’ courtesy call with the Ambassador.