June 2017 spotlight of the month
Deborah Ignacia David-Ona
Clinical Associate Professor, Section of Hypertension, Department of Medicine, University of the Philippines, Philippine General Hospital, Taft Avenue, Manila, Philippines. Tel: +63 2 5264372
Consultant, St. Luke's Medical Center, Global City, Taguig, Philippines. Tel: + 63 7 897700 Loc: 7818-7819
- How did you become interested in research relating to Hypertension?
I was the first recipient of the Dr. Aida Baltazar Hypertension Fellowship grant in our institution at the UP-PGH, which gave me the opportunity to do my fellowship under Dr. Haralambos Gavras and Dr. Irene Gavras at the Hypertension and Atherosclerosis Section of the Boston University College of Medicine. Under their supervision, I was able to do basic research on hypertension and get to see patients referred to the hypertension clinic. From then on, my interest in hypertension research started.
- Describe your research & the program/lab (info of your supervisor) that you are in?
My research centers on the pathophysiology, pharmacology, pharmacogenetics and epidemiology of both essential and resistant hypertension but is mainly clinical research. In the Philippines, most of the research that we do is all collaborative research, with funding coming from both government and private institutions.
- What do you consider to be your substantial scientific contribution so far (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?
When I was with Dr. Gavras, I was able to co author 3 papers:
- Hypertension in Transgenic Mice with Brain-Selective Overexpression of the Alpha 2B adrenoreceptor. American Journal of Hypertension (2009); 22, 1, 41–45.
- ACE Inhibition after Experimental Myocardial Infarction: Role of B1R and B2R Receptors of Bradykinin. Hypertension. 2008;51:1352-1357
- Inhibition of the Alpha 1D Adrenergic Receptor Gene by RNA interference (RNAi) in rat vascular smooth muscle cells and its effects on other adrenergic receptors. Vascular Pharmacology, vol 46, issue 5, May 2007, pp.367-372.
Being part of the Guideline Committee on Hypertension and Dyslipidemia is also a substantial scientific contribution, and returning to the Philippines and being able to encourage young students and residents to do research is also a great accomplishment.
Right now, we are doing work on pharmacogenetics and have presented the preliminary data in our local scientific convention.
- What is your favourite manuscript from a lab or mentor other than your own (provide Pubmed PMID if possible)?
There are a lot of papers that I believe have contributed to the scientific research that I do right now and it helps that it is freely available.
- What facilities are essential for your research?
I am currently part of the Section of Hypertension in the Department of Medicine in the Philippine General Hospital – a national university hospital is conducive to research. We collaborate with our colleagues at our local National Institutes of Health if we want to do basic research.
- Where do your research strengths lie? Why? What are your research weaknesses? How will you improve?
My strength lies in the fact that I can collaborate with other people. Collaboration is key in a country where research funding is limited.
I think I need to give time and focus for me to be able to do research, as currently I have to juggle clinical work and research work at the same time.
- Describe your unforgettable (proudest) moment in science, and the most challenging situation that you have had to overcome (lessons learnt) so far?
My proudest moment in science is being able to publish almost every year and being able to impart to young doctors and scientists that you can pursue research in hypertension even in an environment where funding is limited if you only put your mind and heart to it.
My most challenging situation has been working on a research proposal for one year and not being able to get grants/funding for it.
- At which conference did you first present? How was your experience?
The very first oral presentation I did was when I was a medical resident, in our local convention. It was hard because there were a lot of questions. But once you get the hang of it, it gets easier every time you do it.
- What upcoming conferences will you be attending, and what is the furthest distance that you have traveled for a conference?
I have travelled as far as Europe and the US for a conference.
- How did you learn about ISH/NIN and its activities?
I learned about this through Dr. Rafael Castillo, who is part of the board of ISH.
- What area(s) do you wish to specialize in the future?
I would like to pursue the role of salt in the development of hypertension, and be able to use this data to develop a solid salt reduction program that can contribute to the decline in the prevalence of hypertension in my country.
- Who is your role model in Science? Why?
I have a lot of role models in Science. In the Philippines, I have a lot of role models and mentors:
- Dr. Aida Baltazar and Dr. Agnes Mejia for giving me the opportunity to train abroad and pursue research in hypertension.
- Dr. Rody Sy, Dr. Eduardo Punzalan and Dr. Marissa Alejandria for collaborating with me and giving me the opportunity to do research in hypertension.
- What are your scientific goals? Advice for talented emerging scientists?
As I have said above, I would like to pursue research that will be relevant to my country and will help reduce the prevalence of hypertension in the Philippines.
My advice to emerging scientists is to never give up, and pursue whatever projects they want to do, no matter what, if they think it will be for the greater good.