Dr. Maria Ruth B. Pineda-Cortel is an Associate Professor at the Department of Medical Technical, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Tomas. She is also a resident researcher at the University’s Research Center for the Natural and Applied Sciences.
Her research works cover a wide range of interdisciplinary research fields in health-related issues. She has done researches on multidrug resistant organisms, alternative medicines, and the effect of climate change on dengue and malaria. Her field of interest now are diseases of women such as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Currently, she heads the project entitled, “Blood and placental gene expression in gestational diabetes mellitus.’ This project is funded by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. With the aim of identifying early biomarkers of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), this project emphasizes the importance of preventive healthcare to protect both the mother and the baby against various complications of the disease. Her GDM research team is able to identify genetic risk factors of the disease, which can be detected earlier, and thus prevent the development to GDM. A further study on GDM by the team is the effect of maternal nutritional status on the development of GDM by looking at placental proteins responsible for nutrient transport to the fetus. The team is working on developing a laboratory protocol that can be used for GDM diagnosis, a method that is convenient, and accessible. Aside from GDM, Dr. Pineda-Cortel is turning her interest in the study of PCOS, particularly on current diagnostic methods used, the risk factors associated with it, and its association with genetic polymorphisms.
Dr. Pineda-Cortel is a recipient of the Crisanto Almario Research Award in 2014 by the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists and Public Health, Inc., in recognition of her outstanding research works in the fields of medical technology and diagnosis. She was an ASEAN – US Science and Technology fellow in 2014 focusing on the field of health. In 2018, Dr. Pineda-Cortel was selected as one of the ASEAN Science Diplomats to work with other scientists in the ASEAN region to combat climate change. Since 2017, she has been receiving research awards annually from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Tomas for her outstanding research contributions to the Faculty and to the University.