Dr. Gisela P Concepcion is known for her significant contributions to the field of marine natural products. She spearheaded researches that isolated, purified, identified, and characterized marine natural products with anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-tuberculosis, anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory, and immuno-suppressant properties and developed innovative and inexpensive bioassay methods for platelet inhibition and other bioactivities and targeted drug delivery systems for efficient and effective immunosuppression and anti-cancer treatment.
She received the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Award for Outstanding Research in Tropical Medicine with her co-authors in 2006.
According to her, the award gave her great inspiration and impetus to pursue research on marine drug discovery and development in the next 25 years. As a faculty member at the UPMSI, she led research programs on the search for compounds for microbial infections, cancer, and pain. She studied marine invertebrates such as sponges and mollusks and their microbial symbionts found in different parts of the Philippines as potential sources of bioactive compounds.
Together with local and foreign collaborators, she obtained significant funding from local and foreign funding agencies. This allowed her to gradually build the equipment and facilities of the Marine Natural Products Laboratory at the UPMSI.
Dr. Gisela P Concepcion taught postgraduate courses at the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) and many of her PG students as well as undergraduate students from other laboratories and universities were attracted to join her research group. Many research assistants graduated their Master’s degrees pursuing their thesis and dissertation projects funded by her research programs. All these resulted in many internationally peer-reviewed publications and intellectual property filings on antimicrobial compounds as indicated above.
Her advice to young researchers in the field of tropical medicine is to pursue your research with the highest standards, and with great passion and determination. Do not be discouraged by difficulties and setbacks; understand concepts and principles at great depth; train in experimental and quantitative skills to a highly competent, proficient and expert level; continue studying hard and updating yourself with the scientific literature; present your work at local and international conferences, and explore collaborations with local and foreign scientists in your field and in complementary fields. Good science thrives on scientists keeping an open mind to new ideas and insights, and to new collaborations.
During these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, the government and the rest of society are counting on biomedical scientists in the field of tropical infections and medicine to find short-to-long-term solutions to the pandemic. And so as scientists, you need to reflect seriously on how your research can contribute to the prevention, non-transmission, cure, and non-recurrence of tropical diseases such as COVID-19. With research as the profession you have embraced, your research would be your vocation and service to your fellow men.