For his outstanding marine biosciences, specifically for his work in utilizing molecular biology and biotechnology for food security and conservation in fisheries to increase aquaculture productivity and for proper management of capture fisheries for its sustainable use to enhance the opportunities for fisherfolk livelihood and the fisheries industry in contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation, Dr. Mudjekeewis Santos was chosen as one of the recipients of the Outstanding Young Scientists award for 2011. The said award is given to deserving young individuals not more than 40 years old (in the year of the award) who has made outstanding contributions to science and technology.
The work of Dr. Santos has been cited in many significant studies and reviews in the understanding of blood formation in humans and other vertebrates published in reputable journals like the Blood ad Cytokine Research. In addition, this work established the true identity of the well studied chicken Myelomonocytic Growth Factor (cMGF) to actually be the chicken orthologue of GCSF, wherein the past and present studies of cMGF has been placed into proper context.
His work on the protocol for the polyclonal anti-recombinant IgM antibody is useful and cost-effective, compared with conventional methods, such that it has tremendous promise for future development of other cell surface markers badly needed in studying blood cells in fish. On the other hand, the results of his work on eastern little tuna (Euthynnus affinis) showing that this resource is shared in Southeast Asia is already being cited and used in regional level management discussions in the ASEAN, even if it has been published.
Through the research of Dr. Santos, a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions has been achieved, and new products for cell marking and virus inhibition have become possible for disease monitoring, control, and prevention. With improved aquatic animal health, increased aquaculture productivity is expected. Likewise, as a result of more accurate information on tuna population structure, better and more effective management of the said tuna in the region can be put in place, which ensures the sustainability of the resource. Couple this with increased aquaculture productivity that directly lessens fishing effort on natural populations, and one can attain food security for generations to come.
Dr. Santos finished his BS in Biology at the University of the Philippines College Baguio, where he also graduated as the Deputy Corps Commander of the UPCB ROTC and a member of the UP Vanguard Incorporated. He obtained his MS in Aquatic Biosciences from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT) in 2005 and further continued until he achieved his Ph.D. in Applied Marine Biosciences in the same university in 2008. While studying, he was active in community work, becoming the president of Science and Technology Advisory Council-Japan Chapter (STAC-J), an organization of Filipino Science and Technology students and professionals based in Tokyo from 2007 to 2008.
Dr. Santos continues to work for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (BFAR-NFRDI) as Officer-in-Charge of the Marine Fisheries Research Division (MFRD). He is also a member of different international and local scientific organizations, committees, and inter-agency task forces such as the Asian Fisheries Society (AFS), the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), National Committee on Marine Science (NCMS) of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines and the Philippine Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (PSBMB) among others.
He is a recipient of various awards and scholarships including the Leading Labs Fellowship Grant, Leading Labs Network (LLN) of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) in 2011, DOST-PCAMRD Elvira O. Tan Award (Marine Fisheries) in 2010, the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho) Scholarship from 2002 to 2008, Asian SEED Research Institute Grant for Foreign Students from 2004 to 2006, the UNESCO Short Term Fellowship on Biotechnology 1998 to 1999, and the UP Vanguard Inc. Scholarship from 1988 to 1992.
Dr. Santos continues to lead various government-funded and international research projects and collaborate with local and foreign research and academic institutions centered on applying biotechnology and current molecular biology methods, in particular genomics or the use of genes and nucleotides (DNA and RNA), to address: 1) problems in aquatic animal health particularly disease monitoring, control and prevention in fish and shellfish species; 2) problems on the lack of accurate information on aquatic animal population in the natural environment, which is very much needed for proper management and resource enhancement. His specific achievements include the discovery of novel cytokine genes and their duplicated properties that are involved in blood formation and defense in teleost fish namely, development of a polyclonal antibody from a recombinant IgM protein for marking IgM-positive fish white blood cells, development of an RNA aptamer that inhibits virulence of a fish virus, analysis of the multiple drug-resistance phenomenon in some fish pathogenic bacteria by looking at their R-plasmids. Moreover, he established the population structure of a small pelagic tuna in Southeast Asia as being a “shared stock” using a genetic marker (D-loop of mtDNA), and genetically profiled rare fish species such as mullids “ludong” and theraponids “pigek in the Philippines. Luningning Samarita, Executive Director, NAST