Dr. Richard F. Heck, one of the 2010 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, died on October 10, 2015. He was 84. Dr. Heck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on December 10, 2010 for his work on joining carbon atoms together using a palladium catalyst, known as the Heck Reaction, which he did in the 1960s and 1970s.
The most important legacy he left is the groundwork he laid for many other scientists, including his fellow 2010 Nobel Laureates, Dr. Akira Suzuki of Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, and Dr. Ei-Ichi Negishi of Purdue University. Their works rely on Dr. Heck’s strategy on using a palladium catalyst to bond unreactive molecules. They were all cited for discovering “more efficient ways of linking carbon atoms together to build the complex molecules that are improving our everyday lives”.
Dr. Heck’s discovery created a huge impact not only in the development of pharmaceutical products─ medicines for pain, asthma, cancer, and AIDS, but also to our everyday lives─through products like herbicides, sunscreens, and materials for electronics.
Apart from the development of these products, his palladium catalyst was used to automate DNA sequencing and examine of the human genome through couple fluorescent dyes to DNA bases.
A roundtable discussion on Electricity Pricing through Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) sponsored by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL), was held on October 9, 2015 at Hotel Jen Manila.
The RTD was attended by over eighty (80) representatives from different stakeholders in the electricity sector. Resource persons were Engr. Julius Eleazar A. Bunyi, Engr. Clares Loren C. Jalocon, and Engr. Jonathan B. Dela Viña, all from the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) and Mr. Emmanuel Y. Go, Chairman of Energy Committee, Federation of Philippine Industries.
The main points of the discussion were (a) the fundamental concepts of electricity trading and pricing mechanisms of WESM; (b) how variable renewable energy resourcesare scheduled for dispatch purposes and their correlative responsibilities in maintaining system security and reliability; and (c) the financial impact of the integration of Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) qualified resources in the WESM to the end-users.
The National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) held the Roundtable Discussion on Folic Acid on June 23, 2015 at Hotel Jen Manila. The activity was organized by the Health Sciences Division (HSD) of NAST PHL.
The roundtable discussion focused on the importance of taking enough folic acid by all women of reproductive age, more importantly, pregnant and lactating women. Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is critical to the development of a baby’s brain and spine. The RTD acknowledged the role of different sectors in the drafting of the policy on Folic Acid supplementation and food fortification.
Dr. Marissa B. Lukban, child neurologist of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and professor of College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), discussed the burden of neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are the failure in closing of the neural tube during a baby’s brain development.
Dr. Lukban enumerated various consequences of NTDs and advised taking folic acid supplements to avoid NTDs. She presented several studies showing that folic acid can reduce the risk of NTD-affected pregnancies. She said that all women of reproductive age need 400 micrograms per day (μg/day), while high-risk or pregnant women need 4000 μg/day.
Dr. Karen Codling, executive officer for Asia of the Food Fortification Initiative, talked about the global progress of fortification efforts and regional activities. She discussed the need for enough folic acid intake in women. According to her, folic acid intake should start even before conception, because global data show that around 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. Supplementation during pregnancy is already too late, since the baby’s neural tube develops during the first 28 days of conception — a period when most mothers are still unaware of their pregnancies.
Dr. Codling said that supplementation and food fortification is vital. Getting enough daily requirement of folic acid from food alone is extremely difficult, because a huge amount of food is needed to have the required amount of folic acid daily. According to her, despite various educational campaigns, the awareness and practice of folic acid supplementation are relatively low.