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A clear-sighted, supportive and empowered woman is behind the leadership of the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute’s (DOST-FNRI) – Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, also a Scientist II, is the newly-appointed and 8th DOST-FNRI Director, succeeding Dr. Mario V. Capanzana who retired in August 2020.

Dr. Agdeppa, fondly called by the DOSTFNRI staff as Doc A or Doc Mel, is richly blessed having numerous credentials and achievements over the last few years.

Words that aptly describe Dr. Agdeppa include: a proactive and visionary leader, dedicated researcher, distinguished member of the academe, team player and assertive in that she clearly speaks her mind for the betterment of the Institute’s quality accomplishments and deliverables.

 In a Facebook post of the DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena dated January 21, 2021, he said “Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa is a seasoned researcher/scientist in the field of nutrition. I have worked with her closely in the Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) Clinical Trials Project in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and I saw how she exerted extra effort in her work to deliver the outputs on time. She is a good team leader.”

She is also described as innovative in applying new ideas and creative solutions to address persisting nutrition problems of the country. Truly, she is a catalyst for change and development in food and nutrition.

She always says that she took her BS degree in Foods and Nutrition at the University of Pangasinan because the family is so poor that she cannot enroll in a well – known University. She strived hard and she said because of her 3 Ps - perseverance, patience and persistence to achieve her dreams she has worked hard. Doc Mel is a consistent scholar under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education for Tropical Medicine (SEOMEO-TROPMED) at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia where she obtained her post graduate degrees in Diploma in Applied Nutrition in 1988; Master of Science in Nutrition in 1992 and Doctor of Philosophy in Nutrition in 1996 as Cum Laude.

After her employment at DOH – Regional Office for 19 years, Doc Mel was an Assistant Scientist of the DOST detailed at the FNRI in June 26, 2000 and was conferred as Scientist II in May 3, 2018. During this period she has been assigned as OIC, Chief Science Research Specialist of the Nutritional Assessment and Monitoring Division (NAMD), the division tasked to conduct nutrition surveys. She has always been serving as a stop – gap measure to occupy such position whenever this position is vacated in 2011, 2013 – 2014; & 2017 to 2018. Because of her big heart for FNRI, she finally decided to apply for this position in 2018 up to the time she was appointed as Director in January 21, 2021.

She is an active member and officer of various nutrition professional organizations including: President of the Philippine Society of Nutritionist-Dietitians (PSND) from 2002 to 2008; President of Philippine Association of Nutrition (PAN) from 2012-2013; Board of Trustee of the Nutrition Foundation of the Philippines (NFP) from 2010 to 2016 and an active member of the Nutritionist-Dietitians of the Philippines (NDAP) from 2012 up to the present.

Doc A led the conduct of numerous researches that became the scientific basis for crafting laws and policies for improving the nutritional status of Filipinos including:

(1) The Integrated Model on SchoolBased Gardening, Nutrition Education and Supplementary Feeding that became the reference for the recently-released National Supplementary Feeding Law; (2) The Pilot–Scale Commercialization of Iron Fortified Rice (IFR) led to the release of local ordinances for the sale and consumption of IFR in numerous local government units (LGUs).

The IFR is included as a food commodity in the Family Food Packs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and used in the supplementary feeding program of the Department of Education (DepEd). Researches on IFR have opened the doors for short–term consultancy services in Indonesia and in the National Institute of Nutrition, Hanoi, Vietnam;

(3) Researches on food fortification of beverages also benefited industries in making their products more nutritious for the Filipinos;

(4) The Evaluation on the quality of life of Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) after Consuming Low-Protein Rice helped patients with kidney disease enjoy quality meals and improved quality of life. The Dietary Management Manuals and recipe books are already used as references of dietitians in the hospitals

(5) The study among Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUDs) is a breakthrough. Undersecretary Benjamin P. Reyes of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) said that this is the first study in Asia if not in the world. The dietary management guidelines are reprinted by DDB and now being used by the Treatment Rehabilitation centers in the country.

(6) The Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) Community Trial in Sta. Rosa, Laguna which showed that (VCO) could be used as adjunct supplement among suspect and probable cases of COVID-19.

Some of the numerous awards Doc A received include:

• PAGASA AWARD by the Civil Service Commission, 2017
• Alberto Romualdez Outstanding Health Research Award in 2017 by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD)
• Ten leaders in Nutrition by the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines
• Citation Award from the Professional Regulation Commission, Philippines • Outstanding Oral Presentation Award by the Society of International Endocrinology and Metabolism (SICEM), Seoul, Korea

She has attended numerous local and international trainings, seminars, conferences and workshops. She is a sought-after resource speaker, lecturer, and poster presenter in various local and international scientific organizations. It is in these forum where she established networks and marketed the expertise of FNRI which lead to many international collaborative researches of the Institute thereby supplementing the R & D funds and opening job opportunities for young researchers.

Doc Mel is also a prolific writer, having published numerous scientific papers in a international and local journals. In 2019 she published 9 scientific papers published in prestigious international journal with high impact factor. Doc Mel is also a technical reviewer of scientific articles for publication.

In her plan as presented to FNRI employees, she stressed the importance of Unity in carryin-out her stated goal which is to achieve quality peak performance to bring FNRI at the forefront of R & D in food, nutrition, science and technological services. In so doing, she encourage stronger and sustainable networking across sectors: government agencies including SUC, non-government, private sectors, international organizations, and industries. Her priorities are: the development of food products, tools and standards to: boost immunity, address stunting among children and diabetes among adults; and responding to the needs of the first 1000 days. All of these are geared towards attaining problem focused and area specific interventions using the NNS data. She also put premium on intensified technology transfer and training activities to serve more Filipinos especially in the countryside. Moreover, she intends to have a closer lens on metabolics as a tool to addressing stunting and diabetes.

Doc Mel was born on January 26, 1958 in Manaoag, Pangasinan. She is happily married to Engineer Edgar SistozaAgdeppa. She is a very loving wife and sister to her siblings. On a personal note, Doc Mel is very generous to her family, friends and to the DOST-FNRI staff.

She is also a thoughtful, compassionate and caring person. Dr. Agdeppa adheres to the DOST-FNRI core values of bringing Excellence in every work, is Actionoriented in every need of DOST-FNRI various stakeholders, fostering Teamwork and Sincerity among the staff, Dr. Agdeppa, now at the helm as the Director, will surely sustain DOST-FNRI’s global presence as well as in every Filipino household.

She vows to continue steering the rocket ship piloted by our former Director, Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, to new heights towards helping fight malnutrition, alleviate poverty and promote healthier and more productive lives of Filipinos. The DOST-FNRI family is in full support and will be behind the new Director, Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, PhD. in fulfilling our sworn mandates.

Godspeed and God bless Dr. Angeles - Agdeppa and DOST-FNRI!

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