Raising Hope: Meet National Scientist Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla
International Women's Day

Raising Hope: Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, The Filipina National Scientist Saving And Protecting Lives Through Genetic Research

Art by Goldie Siglos

Vogue Philippines celebrates International Women’s Day through “Raising Hope,” in a call for nominations of inspiring women. Discover the story of Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla, a Filipina National Scientist saving lives and paving the way for next-generation geneticists.

Nominated by Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez

As early as the moment we’re born, our long-term health can be determined and impacted by our genetics. In a perfect world, there would be no need to worry about newborn babies, but alas, genetic and metabolic disorders can affect their development and long-term health. National Scientist Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla recognized this issue and knew that something had to be done. “Her pioneering research on inborn errors of metabolism among Filipinos provided the scientific basis for the enactment of Republic Act 9288, or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004, of which she was the most active advocate,” says Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez, who nominated Dr. Padilla for Vogue Philippines’ Raising Hope.

According to Dr. Ramirez, Dr. Padilla has made outstanding contributions to human genetics and genomics in the Philippines. A scientist, mentor, and administrator, Dr. Padilla excels in institution-building and mobilizing resources. Through her work, the Newborn Screening Act of 2004 has resulted in the early detection of congenital disorders, preventing mental retardation and deaths. Her research has also led to the passage of Republic Act 10747, or the Rare Diseases Act of the Philippines, which protects patients with rare diseases.

Dr. Padilla speaks about the Philippine Newborn Screening Project. Courtesy of Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla

Dr. Padilla also spearheaded the establishment of the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) at the University of the Philippines, with the support of the Department of Science and Technology. “As PGC’s executive director from 2011 to 2016, she oversaw the growth of genomics in the fields of health, forensics, bioinformatics, biodiversity, and agriculture, as well as the establishment of the most advanced DNA Sequencing Core Facility in the Philippines,” Dr. Ramirez says.

As an educator, Dr. Padilla has also made great strides as the former chancellor of the University of the Philippines—Manila. Under her leadership, she strengthened the component 14 institutes and centers and 17 study groups of the National Institutes of Health. She also helped establish several laboratories and training programs at the Institute of Human Genetics: the Cytogenetics Laboratory, Newborn Screening Center, Molecular Genetics Laboratory, Biochemistry Laboratory, MicroArray Laboratory, and the Hemoglobinopathy Laboratory.

Dr. Padilla in the laboratory. Courtesy of Dr. Carmencita D. Padilla

With all her contributions and accomplishments, Dr. Padilla is indeed worthy of recognition. “For her outstanding role as an academic leader and mentor, the Philippines is assured of a pool of next-generation clinical geneticists and genetic counselors. This role she extended to the other branches of science, thus guaranteeing future scientists and science leaders for the country,” Dr. Ramirez says.

Visit vogue.ph everyday this month for daily features on inspiring women, as nominated by the people whose lives they’ve changed.

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