Prof. Ma. Minerva P. Calimag, MD, PhD of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery talked about the important link between research and social agenda in the 2019 Discurso de Apertura (Opening Lecture), the first academic activity of the University of Santo Tomas after the year was officially declared open.
The Tale of Two Rivers
Calimag’s discurso was entitled “Research and Social Agenda: The Tale of Two Rivers (Of Dead Rivers and the River of Life).” “It is my intent to poke and stir all so that by the ripples we create, we can make positive change.”
Focusing on the interconnectedness of all life, Calimag stressed that “from ancient times, nature revealed an interconnected life force to humans in the form of rhythm, patterns, and cycles.” This revelation has been neglected by humans, for “instead of protecting it, many have chosen to exploit it.”
Calimag likewise cited the second encyclical of Pope Francis, entitled “Laudato Si,” in which the Pontiff “calls the world to acknowledge the urgency of environmental challenges and join him in embarking on a new path.” Former US Vice-President Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth was also mentioned for underscoring the planetary emergency known as “global warming.”
Changes and adaptation
Enumerating problems like deforestation, natural disasters, air and water pollution, mismanagemnet and abuse of resources, changing climate patterns, and the like, Calimag noted that as nature changes, so, too, do organisms like mosquitos and ticks “adapt to new environment, which lead to shifts in spatial distribution, seasonality, and incidence rates of disease…as they move to different regions.”
Pursuing the journey of a researcher
In her opening statement, Calimag reflected on what her life as a researcher brought her. “Unbridled by traditions, research has been for me a lifelong journey of discovery of who I am, of the world around me, and the meaning of life.
Calimag served as President of the country’s premier medical association, the Philippine Medical Association, from 2014-2016. She earned her medical degree in 1981 and her doctorate in educational management in 2011, both from UST.