The universities best equipped with digital infrastructure and savvy human resources will emerge as the new leaders − no matter where they are, says Kwang Hyung Lee
A new study led by KAIST researchers using fruit flies reveals how protein deficiency in the diet triggers cross talk between the gut and brain to induce a desire to eat foods rich in proteins or essential amino acids.
Dr. Won-Joon Lee from the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) became the 17th Jeong Hun Cho Award recipient.
KAIST was named as one of the Top 100 Global Innovators 2021 by Clarivate.
KAIST researchers led by Professor Yongsoo Yang observed the 3D atomic structure of a nanoparticle at the atom level via neural network-assisted atomic electron tomography.
Vice President for Research Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK.
Neurons and synapses based on single transistor can dramatically reduce the hardware cost and accelerate the commercialization of neuromorphic hardware KAIST researchers fabricated a brain-inspired highly scalable neuromorphic hardware by co-integrating single transistor neurons and synapses. Using standard silicon complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the neuromorphic hardware is expected to reduce chip cost and simplify fabrication procedures. The research team led by Yang-Kyu Choi and Sung-Yool Choi produced a neurons and synapses based on single transistor for highly scalable neuromorphic hardware and showed the ability to recognize text and face images. This research was featured in Science Advances on August 4. Neuromorphic hardware has attracted a great deal of attention because of its artificial intelligence functions, but consuming ultra-low power of less than 20 watts by mimicking the human brain. To make neuromorphic hardware work, a neuron that generates a spike when integrating a certain signal, and a synapse remembering the connection between two neurons are necessary, just like the biological brain. However, since neurons and synapses constructed on digital or analog circuits occupy a large space, there is a limit in terms of hardware efficiency and costs. Since the human brain consists of about 1011 neurons and 1014 synapses, it is necessary to improve the hardware cost in order to apply it to mobile and IoT devices. To solve the problem, the research team mimicked the behavior of biological neurons and synapses with a single transistor, and co-integrated them onto an 8-inch wafer. The manufactured neuromorphic transistors have the same structure as the transistors for memory and logic that are currently mass-produced. In addition, the neuromorphic transistors proved for the first time that they can be implemented with a ‘Janus structure’ that functions as both neuron and synapse, just like coins have heads and tails. Professor Yang-Kyu Choi said that this work can dramatically reduce the hardware cost by replacing the neurons and synapses that were based on complex digital and analog circuits with a single transistor. "We have demonstrated that neurons and synapses can be implemented using a single transistor," said Joon-Kyu Han, the first author. "By co-integrating single transistor neurons and synapses on the same wafer using a standard CMOS process, the hardware cost of the neuromorphic hardware has been improved, which will accelerate the commercialization of neuromorphic hardware,” Han added.This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and IC Design Education Center (IDEC). -PublicationJoon-Kyu Han, Sung-Yool Choi, Yang-Kyu Choi, et al.“Cointegration of single-transistor neurons and synapses by nanoscale CMOS fabrication for highly scalable neuromorphic hardware,” Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg8836) -ProfileProfessor Yang-Kyu ChoiNano-Oriented Bio-Electronics Labhttps://sites.google.com/view/nobelab/ School of Electrical EngineeringKAIST Professor Sung-Yool ChoiMolecular and Nano Device Laboratoryhttps://www.mndl.kaist.ac.kr/ School of Electrical EngineeringKAIST
A longitudinal study of macrophages from SARS-CoV-2 infected lungs offers new insights into dynamic immunological changes A KAIST immunology research team found that a specific subtype of macrophages that originated from blood monocytes plays a key role in the hyper-inflammatory response in SARS-CoV-2 infected lungs, by performing single-cell RNA sequencing of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cells. This study provides new insights for understanding dynamic changes in immune responses to COVID-19. In the early phase of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 infected lung tissue and the immediate defense system is activated. This early and fast response is called ‘innate immunity,’ provided by immune cells residing in lungs. Macrophages are major cell types of the innate immune system of the lungs, and newly differentiated macrophages originating from the bloodstream also contribute to early defenses against viruses. Professor Su-Hyung Park and his collaborators investigated the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of immune responses in the lungs of SARS-CoV-2 infected ferrets. To overcome the limitations of research using patient-originated specimens, the researchers used a ferret infection model to obtain SARS-CoV-2 infected lungs sequentially with a defined time interval. The researchers analyzed the 10 subtypes of macrophages during the five-day course of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and found that infiltrating macrophages originating from activated monocytes in the blood were key players for viral clearance as well as damaged lung tissue. Moreover, they found that the differentiation process of these inflammatory macrophages resembled the immune responses in the lung tissue of severe COVID-19 patients. Currently, the research team is conducting a follow-up study to identify the dynamic changes in immune responses during the use of immunosuppressive agents to control hyper-inflammatory response called ‘cytokine storm’ in patients with COVID-19. Dr. Jeong Seok Lee, the chief medical officer at Genome Insight Inc., explained, “Our analysis will enhance the understanding of the early features of COVID-19 immunity and provide a scientific background for the more precise use of immunosuppressive agents targeting specific macrophage subtypes.” “This study is the first longitudinal study using sequentially obtained immune cells originating from SARS-CoV-2 infected lungs. The research describes the innate immune response to COVID-19 using single cell transcriptome data and enhances our understanding of the two phases of inflammatory responses,” Professor Park said. This work was supported by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and KAIST, and was published in Nature Communications on July 28. -PublicationSu-Hyung Park, Jeong Seok Lee, Su-Hyung Park et al. “Single-cell transcriptome of bronchoalverolar lavage fluid reveals sequential change of macrophages during SARS-CoV-2 infection in ferrets” Nature Communications (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24807-0) -ProfileProfessor Su-Hyung ParkLaboratory of Translational Immunology and Vaccinologyhttps://ltiv.kaist.ac.kr/ Graduate School of Medical Science and EngineeringKAIST
3D holographic microscopy leads to in-depth analysis of bacterial cells accumulating the bacterial bioplastic, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) A research team at KAIST has observed how bioplastic granule is being accumulated in living bacteria cells through 3D holographic microscopy. Their 3D imaging and quantitative analysis of the bioplastic ‘polyhydroxyalkanoate’ (PHA) via optical diffraction tomography provides insights into biosynthesizing sustainable substitutes for petroleum-based plastics. The bio-degradable polyester polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is being touted as an eco-friendly bioplastic to replace existing synthetic plastics. While carrying similar properties to general-purpose plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene, PHA can be used in various industrial applications such as container packaging and disposable products. PHA is synthesized by numerous bacteria as an energy and carbon storage material under unbalanced growth conditions in the presence of excess carbon sources. PHA exists in the form of insoluble granules in the cytoplasm. Previous studies on investigating in vivo PHA granules have been performed by using fluorescence microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and electron cryotomography. These techniques have generally relied on the statistical analysis of multiple 2D snapshots of fixed cells or the short-time monitoring of the cells. For the TEM analysis, cells need to be fixed and sectioned, and thus the investigation of living cells was not possible. Fluorescence-based techniques require fluorescence labeling or dye staining. Thus, indirect imaging with the use of reporter proteins cannot show the native state of PHAs or cells, and invasive exogenous dyes can affect the physiology and viability of the cells. Therefore, it was difficult to fully understand the formation of PHA granules in cells due to the technical limitations, and thus several mechanism models based on the observations have been only proposed. The team of metabolic engineering researchers led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and Physics Professor YongKeun Park, who established the startup Tomocube with his 3D holographic microscopy, reported the results of 3D quantitative label-free analysis of PHA granules in individual live bacterial cells by measuring the refractive index distributions using optical diffraction tomography. The formation and growth of PHA granules in the cells of Cupriavidus necator, the most-studied native PHA (specifically, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate), also known as PHB) producer, and recombinant Escherichia coli harboring C. necator PHB biosynthesis pathway were comparatively examined. From the reconstructed 3D refractive index distribution of the cells, the team succeeded in the 3D visualization and quantitative analysis of cells and intracellular PHA granules at a single-cell level. In particular, the team newly presented the concept of “in vivo PHA granule density.” Through the statistical analysis of hundreds of single cells accumulating PHA granules, the distinctive differences of density and localization of PHA granules in the two micro-organisms were found. Furthermore, the team identified the key protein that plays a major role in making the difference that enabled the characteristics of PHA granules in the recombinant E. coli to become similar to those of C. necator. The research team also presented 3D time-lapse movies showing the actual processes of PHA granule formation combined with cell growth and division. Movies showing the living cells synthesizing and accumulating PHA granules in their native state had never been reported before. Professor Lee said, “This study provides insights into the morphological and physical characteristics of in vivo PHA as well as the unique mechanisms of PHA granule formation that undergo the phase transition from soluble monomers into the insoluble polymer, followed by granule formation. Through this study, a deeper understanding of PHA granule formation within the bacterial cells is now possible, which has great significance in that a convergence study of biology and physics was achieved. This study will help develop various bioplastics production processes in the future.” This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Changes on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries (Grants NRF-2012M1A2A2026556 and NRF-2012M1A2A2026557) and the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program (Grant No. 2021M3A9I4022740) from the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea to S.Y.L. This work was also supported by the KAIST Cross-Generation Collaborative Laboratory project. -PublicationSo Young Choi, Jeonghun Oh, JaeHwang Jung, YongKeun Park, and Sang Yup Lee. Three-dimensional label-free visualization and quantification of polyhydroxyalkanoates in individualbacterial cell in its native state. PNAS(https://doi.org./10.1073/pnas.2103956118) -ProfileDistinguished Professor Sang Yup LeeMetabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biologyhttp://mbel.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST Endowed Chair Professor YongKeun ParkBiomedical Optics Laboratoryhttps://bmokaist.wordpress.com/ Department of PhysicsKAIST
The interface is easy to insert into the body when dry, but behaves ‘stealthily’ inside the brain when wet Professor Seongjun Park’s research team and collaborators revealed a newly developed hydrogel-based flexible brain-machine interface. To study the structure of the brain or to identify and treat neurological diseases, it is crucial to develop an interface that can stimulate the brain and detect its signals in real time. However, existing neural interfaces are mechanically and chemically different from real brain tissue. This causes foreign body response and forms an insulating layer (glial scar) around the interface, which shortens its lifespan. To solve this problem, the research team developed a ‘brain-mimicking interface’ by inserting a custom-made multifunctional fiber bundle into the hydrogel body. The device is composed not only of an optical fiber that controls specific nerve cells with light in order to perform optogenetic procedures, but it also has an electrode bundle to read brain signals and a microfluidic channel to deliver drugs to the brain. The interface is easy to insert into the body when dry, as hydrogels become solid. But once in the body, the hydrogel will quickly absorb body fluids and resemble the properties of its surrounding tissues, thereby minimizing foreign body response. The research team applied the device on animal models, and showed that it was possible to detect neural signals for up to six months, which is far beyond what had been previously recorded. It was also possible to conduct long-term optogenetic and behavioral experiments on freely moving mice with a significant reduction in foreign body responses such as glial and immunological activation compared to existing devices. “This research is significant in that it was the first to utilize a hydrogel as part of a multifunctional neural interface probe, which increased its lifespan dramatically,” said Professor Park. “With our discovery, we look forward to advancements in research on neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease that require long-term observation.” The research was published in Nature Communications on June 8, 2021. (Title: Adaptive and multifunctional hydrogel hybrid probes for long-term sensing and modulation of neural activity) The study was conducted jointly with an MIT research team composed of Professor Polina Anikeeva, Professor Xuanhe Zhao, and Dr. Hyunwoo Yook. This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant for emerging research, Korea Medical Device Development Fund, KK-JRC Smart Project, KAIST Global Initiative Program, and Post-AI Project. -PublicationPark, S., Yuk, H., Zhao, R. et al. Adaptive and multifunctional hydrogel hybrid probes for long-term sensing and modulation of neural activity. Nat Commun 12, 3435 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23802-9 -ProfileProfessor Seongjun ParkBio and Neural Interfaces LaboratoryDepartment of Bio and Brain EngineeringKAIST
Virtual screening of 6,218 drugs and cell-based assays identifies best therapeutic medication candidates A joint research group from KAIST and Institut Pasteur Korea has identified repurposed drugs for COVID-19 treatment through virtual screening and cell-based assays. The research team suggested the strategy for virtual screening with greatly reduced false positives by incorporating pre-docking filtering based on shape similarity and post-docking filtering based on interaction similarity. This strategy will help develop therapeutic medications for COVID-19 and other antiviral diseases more rapidly. This study was reported at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Researchers screened 6,218 drugs from a collection of FDA-approved drugs or those under clinical trial and identified 38 potential repurposed drugs for COVID-19 with this strategy. Among them, seven compounds inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in Vero cells. Three of these drugs, emodin, omipalisib, and tipifarnib, showed anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in human lung cells, Calu-3. Drug repurposing is a practical strategy for developing antiviral drugs in a short period of time, especially during a global pandemic. In many instances, drug repurposing starts with the virtual screening of approved drugs. However, the actual hit rate of virtual screening is low and most of the predicted drug candidates are false positives. The research group developed effective filtering algorithms before and after the docking simulations to improve the hit rates. In the pre-docking filtering process, compounds with similar shapes to the known active compounds for each target protein were selected and used for docking simulations. In the post-docking filtering process, the chemicals identified through their docking simulations were evaluated considering the docking energy and the similarity of the protein-ligand interactions with the known active compounds. The experimental results showed that the virtual screening strategy reached a high hit rate of 18.4%, leading to the identification of seven potential drugs out of the 38 drugs initially selected. “We plan to conduct further preclinical trials for optimizing drug concentrations as one of the three candidates didn’t resolve the toxicity issues in preclinical trials,” said Woo Dae Jang, one of the researchers from KAIST. “The most important part of this research is that we developed a platform technology that can rapidly identify novel compounds for COVID-19 treatment. If we use this technology, we will be able to quickly respond to new infectious diseases as well as variants of the coronavirus,” said Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the KAIST Mobile Clinic Module Project funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). The National Culture Collection for Pathogens in Korea provided the SARS-CoV-2 (NCCP43326). -PublicationWoo Dae Jang, Sangeun Jeon, Seungtaek Kim, and Sang Yup Lee. Drugs repurposed for COVID-19 by virtual screening of 6,218 drugs and cell-based assay. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (https://doi/org/10.1073/pnas.2024302118) -ProfileDistinguished Professor Sang Yup LeeMetabolic &Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratoryhttp://mbel.kaist.ac.kr Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAIST
KPC4IR will join the task force for the Global Implementation of Travel Rule Standards The KAIST Policy Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (KPC4IR) will participate in a global initiative to create global standards for virtual asset transactions. As a member of the GI-TRUST (Global Implementation of Travel Rule Standards) task force, the KPC4IR will develop technical standards and relevant policies that support the global implementation of the travel rule for virtual assets in compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF). The FATF is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 by the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In June 2019, the FATF extended its Recommendation 16, commonly known as the “travel rule,” to virtual asset services providers (VASPs), requiring both financial institutions and VASPs to aggregate information on the senders and recipients of wire transfers and exchange this information between parties to create a suitable audit trail. According to the FATF’s recommendation and the G20’s support, jurisdictions, especially G20 member countries, have now applied the travel rule to their respective local laws. Korea also amended the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information in March 2020 to include virtual assets in their regulatory scope by March 2022. The GI-TRUST task force will collaborate with global and local organizations developing travel rule technologies and offer a neutral assessment of proposed solutions. Their activities are aimed at standardizing related authentication protocols and security technologies that help VASPs comply with the travel rule. The task force will also aid in the pilot testing of travel rule solutions for certain VASPs in Korea. Afterwards, the task force will report on the performance and reliability of the tested travel rule solutions for actual virtual asset transactions, in compliance with the FATF’s guidance. Besides the KPC4IR, the GI-TRUST task force includes the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), International Digital Asset Exchange Association (IDAXA), and Korea Blockchain Association (KBCA). Director of the KPC4IR Professor So Young Kim will co-chair the task force. Professor Kim said their approach should be prudential in dealing with the regulations that rely on secure real-name data on top of the opposing governance style of pseudonymization, distribution, and recombination. She explained, “KAIST has designed the co-evolution of technologies and institutions in conjunction with the global leaders’ groups such as the World Economic Forum and the EC Joint Research Center.” She expects KAIST’s interdisciplinary, global cooperation to untie the entangled problem between regulations and technologies that obstruct future pathways.
Professor Changho Suh from the School of Electrical Engineering was named the recipient of the 2021 James L.Massey Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in research and teaching by young scholars in the information theory community. The award is named in honor of James L. Massey, who was an internationally acclaimed pioneer in digital communications and revered teacher and mentor to communications engineers. Professor Suh is a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2021 James L. Massey Research & Teaching Award for Young Scholars from the IEEE Information Theory Society, the 2019 AFOSR Grant, the 2019 Google Education Grant, the 2018 IEIE/IEEE Joint Award, the 2015 IEIE Haedong Young Engineer Award, the 2013 IEEE Communications Society Stephen O. Rice Prize, the 2011 David J. Sakrison Memorial Prize (the best dissertation award in UC Berkeley EECS), the 2009 IEEE ISIT Best Student Paper Award, the 2020 LINKGENESIS Best Teacher Award (the campus-wide Grand Prize in Teaching), and the four Departmental Teaching Awards (2013, 2019, 2020, 2021). Dr. Suh is an IEEE Information Theory Society Distinguished Lecturer, the General Chair of the Inaugural IEEE East Asian School of Information Theory, and a Member of the Young Korean Academy of Science and Technology. He is also an Associate Editor of Machine Learning for the IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, the Editor for the IEEE Information Theory Newsletter, a Column Editor for IEEE BITS the Information Theory Magazine, an Area Chair of NeurIPS 2021, and on the Senior Program Committee of IJCAI 2019–2021.
Professor Junil Choi of the School of Electrical Engineering received the 2021 Neal Shepherd Memorial Award from the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society. The award recognizes the most outstanding paper relating to radio propagation published in major journals over the previous five years. Professor Cho, the recipient of the 2015 IEEE Signal Processing Society’s and the 2019 IEEE Communications Society’s Best Paper Award, was selected as the awardee for his paper titled “The Impact of Beamwidth on Temporal Channel Variation in Vehicular Channels and Its Implications” in IEEE Transaction on Vehicular Technology in 2017. In this paper, Professor Choi and his team derived the channel coherence time for a wireless channel as a function of the beamwidth, taking both Doppler effect and pointing error into consideration. The results showed that a nonzero optimal beamwidth exists that maximizes the channel coherence time. To reduce the impact of the overhead of doing realignment in every channel coherence time, the paper showed that the beams should be realigned every beam coherence time for the best performance. Professor Choi said, “It is quite an honor to receive this prestigious award following Professor Joonhyun Kang who won the IEEE VTS’s Jack Neubauer Memorial Award this year. It shows that our university’s pursuit of excellence in advanced research is being well recognized.”
Jungheung Group, a construction company in Korea, made a pledge to donate 30 billion KRW for semiconductor research and education at KAIST. Junghueng will spend 20 billion KRW to construct the semiconductor education and research facilities that will be established in Pyeongtaek City in collaboration with Samsung Electronics, and 10 billion will go for supporting the educational training program. The pledge ceremony was held at the Daejeon campus with Jungheung Group Chairman Chang-Sun Jung, KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee, and Pyeongtaek City Mayor Jang-Seon Jung in attendance. Chairman said, “The only way to earn a competitive edge in this era of technology hegemony is to invest in young talents in the science and technology fields. They will grow up to be excellent experts who will feed tens of thousands of people.” He added, “Donating to nurture future talents is the most rewarding investment we can make for the future.” President Lee said, “Jungheung’s donation is an investment in the semiconductor industry in Korea, which will be the growth engine for the nation. We will make every effort to foster the world’s best workforce in the semiconductor sector.” Mayor Jung also expressed high hopes for the advancement of KAIST into ‘Brain City,’ a complex designated with Samsung Electronics for the semiconductor industry. “The city government will fully support the semiconductor industry and KAIST. In doing so, we look forward to becoming the center of the semiconductor industry in the nation,” announced Mayor Jung.
KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee agreed to establish the ‘Department of Samsung Semiconductors’ in collaboration with Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and the City of Pyeongtaek in Kyonggi-do. The three parties, including Pyeongtaek City Mayor Jang-Seon Jung and President of Samsung Electronics Hark-Kyu Park, signed the MOU on July 13 during an online ceremony. President Lee said that the collaboration will help spur Korea’ semiconductor industry forward. “We will spare no effort to foster seasoned semiconductor personnel who will carve out our competitive edge in the global market,” he explained. While Samsung will sponsor the Department of Semiconductors on the Daejeon campus, Pyeongtaek City will provide 460,000 m2 of land for establishing the KAIST Semiconductor R&D Center. Samsung Electronics has run two massive semiconductor complexes in the city. The triangle of collaboration is expected to bring about synergy by generating field-based education and R&D. KAIST also announced plans to work closely with the local government of Pyeongtaek City to create startup towns and quality jobs in the region by providing software education and technology as well as cultural spaces for local citizens. Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT Hong-Taek Yong and National Assemblymen Jaeill Byun and Eui-dong Yu, who represent the ruling and opposition parties on the Semiconductor Special Committee, joined the online ceremony and praised the collaboration.