University of Philippines Manila

PCHRD, NIH unveil Addiction Neuroscience Research Project at Society for Neuroscience Conference

The first addiction neuroscience research project, funded by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development  (DOST-PCHRD) and implemented by the UP National Institutes of Health, was proudly presented at the 53rd Annual Neuroscience Conference by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in Washington, DC from November 11 to 16, 2023. 

The project team was led by Dr. Rohani Cena-Navarro (UP-NIH), with team members including Dr. Cynthia Grace Gregorio (Collaborator from UP Diliman), Dr. Gregory Quirk (Supervising Scientist, UP-NIH), Ms. Jariel Bacar (Project Technical Specialist, UP-NIH), and 2 MD-PhD DOST Scholars, Ms. Ajina Carampel, and Mr. Johannes Luke Asis (UPCM). 

The team’s participation marked a significant milestone as the only Philippine-based neuroscience animal research laboratory at an international event, reinforcing the country’s commitment to advancing neuroscientific research and attracting high-profile consultations from addiction neuroscientists such as Dr. Yavin Shaham from US-NIH National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Dr. John Woodward from the Medical University of South Carolina. 

To lay the foundations of the first neuroscience addiction laboratory in the Philippines, Dr. Navarro has had fruitful discussions with the US-NIH National Institutes of Mental Health regarding potential equipment donations, enhancing the laboratory’s research capabilities. 

The team’s activities in the conference included the presentation of two posters on the effects of inhalant addiction (specifically toluene and rugby abuse) in an adolescent rodent model. The group reported sex-differences in rats’ responses to chronic toluene exposure and prolonged effects on social behavior. 

In addition, they attended the Waletzky Addiction Symposium and toured the addiction laboratory at NIDA – gaining valuable insights on drug addiction research. One of the MD-PhD students, Ms. Carampel, received the Trainee Professional Development Award (TPDA) – a travel grant scholarship from SfN to recognize students with scientific merit and excellence in research.  

Still another highlight included the team’s effort to strengthen diplomatic ties and support Philippine achievements by attending dinner hosted by Deputy Ambassador Jaime Ascalon, Jr. of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. Expressing gratitude for the continuous support received, the project team looks forward to further collaborations and endeavors to advance neuroscience in the Philippines. 

As the representatives of the country at SFN, the success achieved in this conference reflects the dedication of forward-looking Filipino scientists on the global stage. #

Dr. Rohani C. Navarro

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