Current Members

Photo lab

Marvin Altamia

Marvin graduated from the University of Santo Tomas where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He is currently studying the microbial symbionts of shipworms under the PMS-ICBG Project. Marvin is known for having a green thumb in cultivating numerous novel endosymbiotic bacteria. Whole-genome analysis of the microbes he cultured showed that they contain numerous secondary metabolite gene clusters which indicate their potential for drug discovery. He is also the official photographer of the PMS-ICBG Project who is tasked in documenting scientific research specimens and science geeks’ behaviour in their natural habitat. His artsy-fartsy photos can be found here. You can email him at marvin.altamia @ gmail >>dot<< com

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Miguel Azcuna

BS Management Information Systems (ADMU 2001)
BS Biology (Silliman University 2005)
Ph.D Marine Science (ongoing at UP MSI)

My research focuses on discovering natural products from sponges and sponge associated microorganisms that can be developed into antimicrobial and anti-cancer products. I am deeply interested in chemical ecology and one of my dissertation chapters is investigating the ecological role of compounds from Callyspongia samarensis in competition with scleractinian corals like Porites cylindrica

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Eliza Belen

Liza is one of the Science Aides in the PMS-ICBG project. She is the overall in charge for the cleanliness and maintenance of the animal facility which houses the mice used for the experiments in the laboratory. She also assists the research assistants in conducting in vivo animal experiments. She also assists in collection trips including sample processing and sorting.

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Hazel Cano

Hazel graduated from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sablayan Campus with a degree in BS Cooperatives major in Cooperative Business Management. She is currently the Project Staff/Bookkeeper of the PMS-ICBG project. She is responsible for all administrative works. She is responsible for sending purchases and processing payments and monthly honoraria /stipend for the researchers/employees. She also assists the project manager in processing the funds/budget of the project.

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Meljune Chicote

Meljune is the Laboratory Technician of the DDHP P2. A veteran of Dr. Concepcion’s Lab, Meljune has been part of the family for fourteen years. During this period he has participated in multiple sample collection trips. These expeditions have brought him to multiple exotic locales, as far south as Tawi-tawi and Balut Island. He is a licensed open water scuba diver.  He is proficient in identifying and dissecting various turrids and cone snails of the ConusTurrid Project and DDHP Project 2.  He is also tasked with maintaining the lab aquaria used to house the Cone snails and Xenopus laevis frogs.  His favorite snail is the Conus darkini which he admires for its dark pigmentation and rarity. He hopes to, one day, see C. darkini in the wild.

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Melfeb Chicote

Melfeb is a Science Aide in the PMS-ICBG project assigned for the cleanliness and maintenance of the chemistry laboratory. He is responsible for the distillation of organic solvents. He is also responsible for the extraction of small and large scale isolates. He also plays a big part in sample collection trips such as assisting in shipworm dissection. Melfeb has been part of the MNP family for seven years. He plays drums on his free time.

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Victor Chua

Victor graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. He is currently working under the Conus-Turrid Project, where he is studying the bioactive peptide components from marine snail venom in search for potential anti-pain drug candidates, while also working closely with the DDHP Project. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Marine Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman. In his idle hours, he enjoys reading mystery, horror, and crime and investigation books and short stories.

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Arthur Conrad Diosana IV

Arthur graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Cum Laude from the University of the Philippines – Diliman. He is currently a master’s student of the Marine Science program majoring in Marine Biotechnology. Arthur works under the  PMS-ICBG Project where he isolates and identifies novel bioactive compounds from mollusk-associated bacteria. He is also in-charge of conducting antimicrobial screening of microbial extracts against Klebsiella pneumoniae. His earliest research experience involved the identification of phytochemical constituents of local flora. Under Dr. Evangeline Amor of the Institute of Chemistry, he explored the application of fluorescent glucose binding protein in measuring transdermal glucose levels of mice. Aside from his plan of pursuing a career in the medical or pharmaceutical sciences, he is also interested in the science of the cosmetic and skin care industry.

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Abe Ernest Johann Isagan

Johann obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Santo Tomas. He is a member of the DDHP project on drug discovery and is currently studying the bioactive peptide components of marine cone snail venom. He is also working on a microneedle-based drug delivery systems for bioactive peptides. He loves field collection trips as it gives him a chance to get in touch with the animals he is studying. His favorite snail is the C. imperialis; its sturdy shell is akin to his strong commitment to the pursuit of scientific truths. You can reach him at aejeisagan@gmail.com.

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Noel Lacerna II

Noel received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Chemistry at University of the Philippines-Diliman focusing on microbial chemistry. He is currently working on the PMS-ICBG Project as a chemist looking for small molecules from mollusk-associated symbionts. His research interests include chemical ecology, spectroscopy, natural products chemistry and synthetic biology.
Outside the lab, Noel likes to spend his time outdoors through hiking. One of his wishes in life is to drink brewed coffee on a mountaintop.

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Jessa Mae Laude

The experience and learning I gained from the Concepcion lab made me appreciate natural product-based drug discovery.  I was exposed to the traditional bioactivity-guided isolation of marine (MMOs) and terrestrial (Moringa oleifera) natural products which enabled me to identify some known compounds (i.e. thiocarbamate and nitrile glycoside) with new bioactivities. The bioactivity-guided isolation approach is time-consuming, labor-and cost-intensive process, thus exploring the metabolic profiling approach will be an interesting milestone for me. I was given the opportunity to study the Moringa plant and its antitumor potential. The said project has stirred my interest in herbal medicine as a source of nutraceutical or lead compounds/enriched fraction for drug development. Concepcion lab has hosted several local and international gatherings of researchers, so aside from labwork I was also exposed to the production and behind-the-scenes of conducting scientific conferences. I am currently involved in the  PMS-ICBG Project, mainly tasked to oversee the status of finances and other administrative-related stuff. I obtained my BS in Chemistry from the University of the Philippines-Visayas. I can be reached at laude.jessa@gmail.com.

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Albebson Lim

Albebson Lim got a degree in Bachelor of Science in Biology Major in Microbiology from the University of the Philippines Los Banos. His thesis was entitled “Prokaryotic community structure of Mt. Makiling soil as revealed by 16S rDNA PCR-DGGE Analysis”. After graduation, he ventured into the field of microbiology, cell biology and marine sciences. For the project, he do cytotoxicity and antiangiogenesis assays as well as maintenance of the cancer and normal cell lines. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Marine Science program of the Marine Science Institute at University of the Philippines Diliman.

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Monica Mendoza

After Monica graduated at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Mindoro, she got her first job on the same year as Project Assistant. She is currently working under the Discovery and Development of Health Products Project 2: Anti Pain and Anti-Neurodegeneration Drug Candidates Project. She is responsible for coordinating with suppliers for small value procurement of goods and services and prepares vouchers and other necessary attachments of all expenditures for the account. She also prepares the financial reports and reconcile the fund balances with the budget office.

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Bailey Ward Miller

Bailey graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009 with BS in Biopsychology. During his time at UCSB his research focused on the neurochemical adaptations to drug abuse. Upon graduation, Bailey decided to marry his research interests in drug discovery and pharmacology with his passion for scuba diving and marine life by joining the graduate program at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Here, working in the lab of Dr. William Gerwick, Bailey’s work entered the field of marine natural products, working on the isolation and characterization of natural product compounds from marine cyanobacteria with activity against the human cysteine cathepsin proteases. Upon completion of his doctoral dissertation, Bailey joined the PMS-ICBG team in 2016.

As the postdoctoral research fellow for the PMS-ICBG Project, Bailey spends his time working in both the University of Utah and the Marine Science Institute at the University of the Philippines. His current research interests include metabolomics profiling of mollusk associate bacteria, high throughput screening of extract libraries for drug discovery, and integrated approaches for rapid dereplication, isolation, and characterization of novel natural products from these organisms.

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Irene Pamisan

Irene is the “ate” of the laboratory as she has been part of the lab for 18 years. She has been part of many projects in the laboratory and helped numerous alumni and current researchers in their experiments. She is a Science Aide in the PMS-ICBG project and is the overall in-charge of the cleanliness and maintenance of the cell culture and the microbiology laboratory. She is also responsible for the sterilization of the laboratory reagents and materials to be used for various experiments. Aside from this, she also has a child, “Nini”, who gives joy to everyone in the lab whenever she came to visit.

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DSC_1779Jose Miguel Robes

Miguel first joined the lab as an undergraduate thesis student working on natural products from marine sponges, after obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of the Philippines Baguio, he officially joined the group under the PMS-ICBG Project. Miguel is currently pursuing his MSc Microbiology degree from the Institute of Biology under the guidance of Dr. Gisela Concepcion and Dr. Joyce Ibana. He is interested in developing assays against infectious diseases and understanding microbial interactions and its effects on the production of biologically important molecules.

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Jortan Tun

My first project in the lab was on influenza vaccine (with Dr. Eduardo Padlan) where the goal is to produce recombinant “de-antigenized” hemagglutinin that will confer protection against cladal influenza strains. My work here is mainly on the immunological characterization of the recombinant hemagglutinin using in vitro and in vivo antigenicity and immunogenicity assays. Then, I became involved in two of the largest marine drug discovery projects in the Philippines: PharmaSeas and  PMS-ICBG Project. Most of my work involved cell-based assays for bioactivity screening of extracts or pure compounds from mollusk- and sponge-associated bacteria. These assays include anti-cancer, antiviral (HIV and influenza), antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-biofilm. I was also involved in the Moringa project where we used flow cytometry and 4T1 metastatic tumor mouse models to characterize the bioactivities of potential chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive compounds isolated from the leaves and seeds. Currently, my research focuses on identifying synergistic drug combinations and determining their mechanisms of actions. I am also very much interested in the neuroactivity testing of small molecules from mollusk-associated bacteria and peptides from cone snails using calcium imaging on primary cultures of mouse dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and trigeminal neurons. As an in-house research associate, I am also in-charge of several administrative duties and laboratory management.

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icuyIris Uy

Iris is a molecular biologist doing research primarily on the genomes of marine organisms (i.e., an ex-labrat who has found a happy place where programming, bioinformatics, and the ocean meet). She got her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from UP Diliman and her master’s degree in Marine Science (Major in Marine Biotechnology) from the Marine Science Institute, UP Diliman.