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Fabian M. Dayrit

NAST names Dr. Fabian Dayrit Academician

Dr. Fabian Dayrit is recognized for his outstanding scientific researches in the field of chemistry, spectroscopy and environmental science which in various ways, have contributed in the growth of science and science education in the country.

His research in natural products has led to a better understanding of bioactives and the identification of a new compound from indigenous plants particularly lagundi. He has explored the use of nuclear magnetic resonance for chemical analysis as well as structural analysis of polysaccharides, espcially carrageenan from Philippine seaweeds.

He has developed a methodology using Gas Chromatography coupled with high resolution Mass Spectrometry for low-level analysis of various compounds, including 3-MCPD in soy sauce and drugs in urine, that show our capabilities in doing world-class chemical analysis.

His scientific and academic works have resulted in various publications in ISI-listed and non-ISI-listed journals, thus raising the bar of Philippine research standards in chemistry, spectroscopy, and environmental science.

Among his most popular initiatives include “Project Blue Skies”, started out as a thesis and later evolved into Ateneo de Manila’s all-out war against smoke pollution. The project-turned-campaign required vehicle emission testings in applying for vehicle stickers in entering the lush Ateneo de Manila University premises. This initiative was adopted later by the Land Transportation Office as a prerequisite for vehicle registrations.

This measure proves Dr. Fabian Dayrit’s innovativeness in responding to the needs of the Filipinos today through scientific researches. Dr. Dayrit is conferred in 2009 with the rank and title of Academician by the National Academy of Science and Technology, an advisory council of the Department of Science and Technology. Among his important contributions to
S&T were his published scientific papers on Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). 

Contrary to the product’s popularity in the market, little is written in the scientific journals in the world about VCO’s scientific properties. Thus, his published works documented basic scientific data on VCO which gave him due recognition from the international S&T community. 

He also developed an analytical methodology for detecting 3-monocholopropane diol or 3-MCPD, a compound found in soy
sauce which is exported in Europe and the US. The compound, found to be carcinogenic, is banned in said regions. Previously,
analysis of 3-MCPD was solely undertaken in the laboratories in England. This prompted Dr. Dayrit and his group to develop a local but internationally accepted methodology in analyzing the products. The research had encouraging results and was later published in a European journal on food safety and analysis.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dayrit’s involvement in natural products especially on Vitex negundo (lagundi) became the scientific basis for its
analysis and use. A local pharmaceutical company adopted Dr. Dayrit’s scientific findings in the production of its line of lagundi
herbal medicine products.

He has also explored the use of nuclear magnetic resonance for chemical and structural analysis of polysaccharides, especially
of carrageenan from Philippine seaweed.

Dr. Dayrit was a BS Chemistry cum laude at the Ateneo de Manila University and received his MA and PhD degrees in Chemistry from Princeton University. 

Currently, Dayrit is dean of the Ateneo’s School of Science and Engineering. 

His pursuit of researches in the area of herbal medicine led to his conferment as Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardee for Government Service in 1988. He was later awarded Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in the field of Chemistry in 1995. He also
received the Achievement Award in Chemistry Education and the National Academy of Science and Technology Award for Best
Paper in 1995.

Last year, he was awarded "Tanging Parangal sa Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan" from the City of Manila. The award is Manila’s version of the National Artist awards. It honors Filipinos striving for excellence in their fields and who continually promote our national cultural identity in their work.

Dr. Dayrit is currently the chairman of the Technical Panel for the Nanotechnology Program in the country which launched its roadmap on priority areas for development this year. The program aims at exploring the many possibilities of development in nanotech which ranges from super small electronic gadgets to hybrid medicines and pest proof agricultural products.

NAST is mandated by the Philippine government to recognize outstanding achievements in science and technology and to serve as a reservoir of competent scientific and technological manpower for the country. It is also the advisory body to the President of the Republic of the Philippines and the Cabinet on policies concerning science and technology in the country.

-S&T Post, Vol. XXVIII, 1st Quarter 2010

Interviewed by: Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII