Research at the NIH

NIH Contributions to COVID-19 Response

The NIH is at the forefront of providing solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The GenAmplify™ COVID-19 rRT-PCR Detection Kit was developed at the NIH and the UP Philippine Genome Center as a low-cost technology for detecting SARS CoV2, a big step for the country to achieve self-sufficiency in addressing the pandemic. Together with the UP SIBOL Project Team, the RxBox is being used for telemedicine and telemetry. Computers beside COVID-19 patients allow communication with HCWs remotely, decreasing close interaction and decreasing the number of HCWs required in one area. The RxBox is also being redesigned to a new sensor for measuring Respiratory Rate based on the thermistor technology, which can help homecare monitoring for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.

DOH has tapped the NIH to assist in biosafety training and hands-on molecular training for COVID RT-PCR testing. As a result, a UP TRAINS program was developed with NIH as the lead. It is a RITM and DOH-accredited training program focusing on biosafety and molecular biology as applied in SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing. It consists of two online courses, namely the UP NIH Online Biosafety Education and Awareness Training against COVID-19 (BEAT COVID19) and the UP COLLab: COVID-19 Online Learning Lab for RT-PCR Testing.

The NIH Institute of Clinical Epidemiology led the development of the Philippine COVID-19 Living Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG). A Living CPG provides up-to-date, evidence-based guidance on the treatment, diagnosis, and infection control of COVID-19. While there are existing international guidelines and living systematic reviews on COVID-19, local experts, end-users, and other relevant stakeholders need to localize the recommendations from the evidence in our setting. In collaboration with the WHO, the NIH leads the Philippines Solidarity Trial and Convalescent Plasma Trial.

Several NIH Directors and Research Faculty serve as part of the expert panel in the following government COVID-19 response technical groups: DOH Technical Advisory Group, IATF TWG on COVID variants, IATF sub-TWG on Data Analytics, National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, Task Force T3, and Vaccine Expert Panel.


NIH New Priority Programs

The completion of the 19-story NIH building by 2022 will provide a permanent home to the 14 NIH Institutes and Centers and 17 Study Groups. It will also be home to 4 upcoming new facilities:

1. The NIH-Clinical Research Center (NIH-CRC) envisioned as a center for excellence for the conduct of clinical trials in the Philippines;

2. The Animal Research Center for small-sized laboratory animals, which will promote evidence-based research with animal experiments seeking novel treatments and vaccines for various diseases;

3. The UP Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Health (DRRM-H) Simulation Center, which will serve as the hub of disaster research and capacity building training center on disaster response; and

4. The NIH, together with the Philippine General Hospital and the Philippine Genome Center, spearheads research, capacity building, and institutional linkages to develop genome-based applications in the country.

To achieve the country’s vision of “health for all,” it is not enough to merely sustain the capacity of the present health care system. It is essential to build the nation’s capability for research and development. These can fuel the necessary innovation that will lead the country to an improved, effective, and efficient health care system. To effectively contribute to national development, NIH's research thrusts are continuously mission-oriented, problem-directed, and multi- and trans-disciplinary.