Bicolana scientist excels in Neurophysics; research on treatment for Parkinsons, Alzheimer diseases | BICOL TODAY

Bicolana scientist excels in Neurophysics; research on treatment for Parkinsons, Alzheimer diseases

Philippine Ambassador Antonio Manuel Lagdameo listens to Dr. Jhalique Jane Fojas’ plans on working with other Filipino scientists who, like her, are interested to contribute to nation building through science. Photo by Stacy Garcia

LONDON, United Kingdom — “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.

Dr. Fojas was born and raised in Legazpi City.

According to a short write-up from a periodical Faculty for the Future, as provided by Stacy Danika Garcia, Vice Consul, PH embassy in London:

“Jhalique Jane Fojas was born in a province around twelve hours drive from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. She was raised by her grandparents, who were farmers, and they supported her love for science by providing books from a nearby public library and local bookstore. Jhalique graduated top of her class at primary school, which earned her a scholarship at the most prestigious science high school in her country. With support from a full scholarship, Jhalique attended the University of the Philippines where she gained a BSc in Chemical Engineering. She then worked as a faculty member teaching chemistry while also studying towards an MSC in Chemical Engineering, specializing in bioengineering, and another MSc in Applied Mathematics. She was top of her year in all of her courses and won several awards, including a scholarship from Harvard Medical School in the United States. Jhalique’s PhD research focuses the development of an integrated microfluidicneurosensory platform to investigate underlying pathological mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

She has a passion to understand the inner workings of the brain, and there are few experts in the field of neuroengineering and neurophysics in the Philippines. Jhalique hopes to develop a portable and flexible technology that can identify these pathological mechanisms, which may also enable the discovery of new drugs and treatments for degenerative brain disease. She also believes that the flora and fauna of her country could provide a reservoir of affordable medicines to mitigate or cure neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. After completion of her PhD, Jhalique plans to gain further training abroad before returning to teaching and research in the Philippines. She hopes to establish a research group in her country within which she can share her international knowledge and experience.”

During her stint in Cambridge, Fojas developed a non-invasive device to treat drug addiction.

Dr. Jhalique Jane Fojas is an overseas Filipino student who has developed non-invasive portable technology that may potentially treat drug addiction. Photo by Stacy Garcia

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. []

Posted by on August 28, 2018. Filed under Bicol News,Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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