The University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) is recognized as the country’s leading institution in health research and development. It has the greatest assembly of scholars and researchers who are leaders in their respective fields in the Philippines. The creation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in January 1996 under the UP Manila System was a boost to the existing research infrastructure. With efficient organization, the inquisitive minds of the health researchers were put to task:
- 1. To develop new health products,
2. To search for innovative methods for health promotion and prevention of disease,
3. To address growing health concerns about aging, degenerative diseases, metabolism and disability,
4. To conduct holistic, integrative and transdisciplinary studies on wellness, health communication and health social sciences, and
5. To explore alternatives to Western medicine and study the management of health care systems.
Over the past years, the key leaders of the University of the Philippines have been the strongest supporters for research, including this aspect in their development agenda for their terms of office.
In 2005 UP President Emerlinda R. Roman, in starting her term, realized the potential influence of the university not only within but also beyond the nation’s shores. She seeks to “strengthen the UP position as the leading research university in the country and in the region.” UP Manila Chancellor Arcadio takes on the challenge to improve the utilization of research output in the basic and applied sciences to effect real change in the lives of Filipinos.
The existing research infrastructure in UP Manila is headed by the Vice-Chancellor for Research (VCR). Research units in each academic and clinical department of the UP College of Medicine (UPCM) and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) conduct studies that comprise most of the research activities in UP Manila. Technical and Ethical Review Boards in both the College of Medicine and the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research/National Institutes of Health (OVCR/NIH) ensure the quality of researches and the adherence to the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines. The opportunities for internal resource generation at the University level however are lacking and the UP Manila does not have an organized official unit to negotiate with external funding agencies as research sponsors.
In this setting, the Research Grants Administration Office (RGAO) was created. The idea was introduced by representatives of the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society in America (UPMASA) Research Committee. When Dr. Patricio Reyes came to visit UP Manila and the Philippine General Hospital in December 2005, he pointed out that the creation of a central research office should be a priority for UP Manila to become a major player in international research. A central research office would streamline the research funding process and its component units notably PGH and the UPCM would greatly benefit from the generated research funds. The idea was followed through in the subsequent year and the creation of such an office became one of the major thrusts of the UPMASA. The RGAO has expanded its role upon the approval of the Chancellor to register all researches that emanate from the university employees and trainees.