UP TRAINS to fight COVID-19

(JUL. 11) — Experts believe that to fight COVID-19, the country needs to increase its testing capacity.

To address this, a 2-part online lecture series dubbed as the UP TRAINS Projects (UP TRAINS) was recently designed by experts from the National Institutes of Health in UP Manila and the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Diliman in collaboration with the Philippine Genome Center in UP Diliman, Visayas and Mindanao.

UP TRAINS is a training assistance program that seeks to augment the number of laboratories capable of performing RT-PCR based testing for COVID-19.  Composed of two online courses held on a weekly basis, the program began on Jun. 9 and will run for six months.

Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM)-accredited, UP TRAINS includes the following online courses:

  1. UP NIH NTCBB Online Biosafety Education and Awareness Training against COVID-19 (BEAT COVID19)

This module is designed to provide core concepts of basic biosafety and biosecurity practices for laboratory personnel through an online course. The target participants are laboratory personnel handling SARS-CoV-2 testing. The 5-day online training is composed of seven modules of the core principleswhich are: Introduction to Biorisk Management with Focus on Biosafety; Risk Assessment; Biocontainment Facilities; Basics of Biosafety Cabinets; Personal Protective Equipment; Disinfection, Sterilization and Decontamination; and Waste Management of Biological Materials. The modules were accessed using the Canvas Learning Management (CLM) while the live panel discussions used the Zoom platform. The CLM can be accessed anytime which will allow participants to take the course at their own pace. The course utilizes distance learning education by providing updated and relevant materials that are essential to the current COVID-19 response and online forum and case analysis moderated by subject matter experts, who are graduates of the NTCBB’s Philippine Advance Biorisk Officers Training program.

  1. UP COLLab: COVID-19 Online Learning Lab for RT-PCR Testing

This online course is composed of six online training modules offered using the CLM. The UP COLLab course is offered weekly and must be completed within a 48-hour time frame. The six modules cover the basics of SARS- CoV2 Biology, RT-PCR testing workflow, theoretical principles behind RNA extraction and real-time PCR, instrumentation, data interpretation, and RT-PCR troubleshooting. Each module is composed of a 20-30 minute video lecture followed by a quiz to gauge effective understanding of the concepts. Enrollees have to pass an assessment exam to be endorsed for the 2-day hands-on training program held in any of the Subnational Laboratories (SNL) deputized by RITM. The Philippine Genome Center Visayas and Philippine Genome Center Mindanao provide hands on training for Visayas and Mindanao, respectively. The UP NIH COVID Testing Laboratory also assists in the hands-on training. — Pia Bagasmad, CS