Filipino scientists

Clinical geneticist Carmencita Padilla is 43rd National Scientist

Iya Gozum

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Clinical geneticist Carmencita Padilla is 43rd National Scientist

NATIONAL SCIENTIST. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. conferred the Order of National Scientists to clinical geneticist Carmencita Padilla on Thursday, August 31. Photo from Presidential Communications Office

Presidential Communications Office

Carmencita Padilla's work was the basis of the Republic Act No. 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004

MANILA, Philippines – Pioneer clinical geneticist Carmencita Padilla became the latest member of the illustrious Order of National Scientists after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. conferred on her the award Thursday, August 31, in a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace.

In bestowing the honor, the President underscored the importance of research and development and the government’s support in these areas.

The Order of National Scientist is the highest recognition given to persons of science conferred by the Philippine president in accordance to Executive Order No. 236 of 2003. The award is of equal rank to the likewise eminent Order of the National Artist. Annually, the president selects from the scientists nominated by the National Academy of Science and Technology.

Padilla is the 43rd and only living female National Scientist from the health sciences.

Her expertise on clinical genetics and research on newborn screening became the basis of Republic Act No. 9288 or the Newborn Screening Act of 2004.

The law set up the country’s newborn screening services, which are administered after 24 hours of life. The screening helps detect health risks in newborns that may lead, if untreated, to mental retardation or even death.

Padilla helped establish the Philippine Genome Center, a multidisciplinary research unit that offers DNA sequencing services. She served as its executive director from 2011 to 2016.

The center was critical during the COVID-19 pandemic when it handled the sequencing of coronavirus samples to aid experts with knowledge on how to mitigate the spread of the disease.

She is currently the chancellor of the University of the Philippines Manila, the country’s health sciences center that offers programs on training, research, and development in the medical field. It is in the same university where Padilla obtained her doctorate degree in medicine and eventually her master’s degree in health policy studies.

Aside from the rank and title, awardees are also given annual gratuity and other privileges.

In the same ceremony, Marcos conferred the Presidential Medal of Merit to Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Allan B. Gepty for his contribution to negotiations in relation to the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. –

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.