Assoc. Prof. Christopher Marlowe Caipang, PhD, Division of Biological Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
It was in his third grade when Dr. Christopher Marlowe A. Caipang started his interest in doing research in science through observing the life cycle of a frog for a class activity. That made him curious in the scientific process of investigation and in life sciences in general. Holding on to that early awakening moment, he pursued Bachelor of Science in Fisheries major in Inland Fisheries in the University of the Philippines Visayas in 1993. He served as a research assistant before becoming a faculty member at the Institute of Aquaculture at the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. He then took his Masters and PhD degrees in Aquatic Biosciences at the Tokyo University of Marine Sciences and Technology in 2002 and in 2005, respectively. He continued post-doctoral studies in Japan and in two other institutions in Norway. After that, his last stint was at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore where he served as Research Scientist before coming back to the Philippines in 2018.
Leaning into the field of biology and aquaculture, Dr. Caipang’s research interests include molecular biology and biotechnology, specifically in vaccine development, disease diagnostics, aquatic animal health management and host-pathogen interactions. All of these are centered on the molecular aspect of the aforementioned fields of research.
Every researcher has their own memorable research feat, for Dr. Caipang it happened when he took his Master’s Degree in Japan. In the laboratory where he was assigned, they were able to discover a fish with an antiviral resistance gene which is the myxovirus resistance gene or Mx. They were able to clone that gene in fish.
By the time he entered that laboratory, he did further characterization and he was able to prove that there exists an antiviral resistance gene in fish that has potent antiviral activity.
“This research discovery paved the way for other researchers to conduct similar studies and establish some of these antiviral discoveries on others that have antiviral responses in fish”, Dr. Caipang shared. “We opened the field for doing advanced studies on some of these genes”, he added.
When he returned to the Philippines, he continued his work on the Biofloc Technology for Shrimp, through a project that was funded by DOST-PCAARRD. As to meet the current needs of the aquaculture industry, together with his co-researchers they developed and innovated the Biofloc Technology for Shrimp Nurseries.
He recalled that the first 30 days or the nursery phase of shrimp was the most critical period, the moment they surpassed, it was less challenging for the next stages. Considering these gaps in mind, they made some adjustments in the biofloc technology and they were able to generate a technology that is now ready to be utilized by various stakeholders who wanted to adapt the technology.
In every course of a researcher’s life, there will be a time for some challenges along the way. For Dr. Caipang, working in research abroad means dealing with a lot of people from different walks of life, managing different attitudes towards work, catering different insights on dealing with academic pressure and adjustment to the science culture. While in the Philippines, the challenge lies more on the lack of resources and financial constraints.
Inspite of this, Dr. Caipang is truly hopeful of what lies ahead in research, especially to those who are budding researchers in the field. “If they keep an open and inquisitive mind, they could truly go a long way,” he said. “They should remain observant of the things that are happening around them. With this trait, they can formulate a lot of questions that could be worthy of research. Most significant eureka moments in research are derived from various observations that most researchers are doing”, he added.
The output of a good research depends on how it is geared towards improving the lives of the people, contributing towards social growth and betterment of the country. Only through research can propel our country towards the next stage of development. For Dr. Caipang, doing research should be beneficial to our country’s economy and social development.
“For as long as I can contribute to science, that’s it”, Dr. Christopher Marlowe A. Caipang, a scientist and an educator. With what he has already achieved in the field, he remained steadfast and anchored to his humble beginnings–for science and for the people.