University of the Philippines Los Baños

Dr. Christian Joseph R. Cumagun of the University of the Philippines Los Baños was given by the DOST National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) last December 5 the 2013 Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Award for his exceptional researches in molecular biology and plant pathology.

Cumagun is Professor 6 at the Crop Protection Cluster, College of Agriculture and Scientist II.

He is currently the Associate Dean of the college.

As the 2013 Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Awardee he received a Medallion of Excellence and PhP25,000.00 prize during ceremonies at the Traders Hotel, Pasay City. The awarding was part of the NRCP's celebration of its 80th Foundation Anniversary.

Cumagun has extensively characterized the various strains of Philippine Trichoderma, a soil fungus that is used as biological control agent against many plant diseases.

Cumagun's studies also led to the mapping and identification of important wheat genes which control the pathogenicity, aggressiveness, and mycotoxin production of Fusarium graminearum, a species of fungi that causes Fusarium head blight disease which attacks and destroys wheat crop. This study may help plant breeders produce wheat more resistant to Fusarium head blight.

Dr. Cumagun also discovered that the third wheat gene, known as Rwt3, may be used against Magnaportheoryzae, another type of fungus that causes blast disease in several cereal crops. With the identification of this gene, wheat cultivars with high resistance to blast disease may be developed.

Cumagun joins four other UPLB scientists; Dr. Asuncion K. Raymundo (1986), Dr. Narceo Bajet (2001), Dr. Rita P. Laude and Mr. Marni E. Cuenco (2006); who have won the illustrious Dr. Eusebio Y. Garcia Award.

In photo (left to right): Dr. Mildred A. Padilla, Assistant Corporate Secretary and Chairperson, Division of Veterinary Medicine; Renia C. Corocoto, Chief Science Research Specialist, RDMD, NRCP; Dr. Isidro C. Sia, Chairperson, NRCP Division of Medical Sciences; Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz, President, NRCP and National Scientist, Dr. Cumagun and his wife; Dr. Rosalinda C. Solevilla, Chairperson, NRCP Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Dr. Irene M Villasenor, Chairperson, NRCP Division of Chemical Sciences. Photo courtesy of NRCP.