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Professor Jeong-Ho Lee Named the KAISTian of 2018
(Professor Jeong-Ho Lee (right) poses with President Sung-Chul Shin) Professor Jeong-Ho Lee from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering was selected as the KAISTian of the Year of 2018. The award was established in 2001 and recognizes the most outstanding scholars who have made significant research and scholastic achievements during the year. Professor Lee was awarded during the New Year ceremony held in the auditorium on January 2. Professor Lee has investigated mutations arising in the brain for decades and has published in renowned journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, and Cell. Last August, Professor Lee reported breakthrough research on glioblastoma in Nature, giving insight into understanding how the mutation causing glioblastoma starts and suggested novel ways to treat glioblastoma, which was thought to be incurable. (Click for more) Professor Lee’s Translational Neurogenetics Laboratory lab is investigating innovative diagnostics and therapeutics for untreatable brain disorders including intractable epilepsy and glioblastoma. To commercialize his technology, he established the tech-startup SoVarGen and now works as its CTO. Professor Lee credited all his lab colleagues and staff. “I know all of this research would not have possible without their sweat and effort. I am happy to receive this honorable award on behalf of them.” Remembering the beginning of his career at KAIST in 2012, Professor Lee said “KAIST seemed to be a very high and formidable barrier for me, after completing my medical education in Korea. I thank my department professors and colleagues who led me to focus on the research path that I really wanted. They provided everything for my research environment to help make good results.” “I will continue to strive for promoting the well-being of humanity by addressing various incurable diseases as well as developing novel therapeutics. That will be the way to promote the stature of KAIST at home and abroad,” he added.
Professor Ju, to Receive Grants from HFSP
(Professor Young Seok Ju) Professor Young Seok Ju from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering was selected as a young investigator to receive research funds from the Human Frontiers Science Program. The Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) was founded in 1989 with members of the G7 and European Union to stimulate innovative research in the field of life sciences. Professor Ju placed third out of the eight teams that were selected from 158 applicants representing 60 countries. He is now the fourth Korean to receive a research grant as a young investigator. Professor Jae Kyoung Kim from the Department of Mathematical Sciences also received this prize last year, hence KAIST has produced grant recipients for two consecutive years. Professor Ju is a medical doctor specializing in cancer genomics and computer biology. He has been studying somatic mutations and their functional consequences in human cancer in a bioinformatics way. He has published papers in international journals including Nature, Science, Genome Research, and Journal of Clinical Oncology. With a title ‘Tracing AID/APOBEC- and MSI-mediated hyper-mutagenesis in the clonal evolution of gastric cancer,’ Professor Ju will receive 1.05 million dollars for three years along with Professor Bon-Kyoung Koo from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology at Austrian Academy of Sciences, and Sinppert Hugo from University Medical Center Utrecht. Professor Ju said, “As a young investigator, it is my great honor to receive this research fund from this organization. Through this internationally collaborative research, I will carry out groundbreaking research to understand the pathophysiology of cancers at a molecular level.”
Professor Gou Young Koh, 2018 Laureate of Ho-Am Prize
Distinguished Professor Gou Young Koh from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering was appointed a 2018 laureate in medicine of the Ho-Am Prize by the Ho-Am Foundation. Professor Koh is a renowned expert in the field of tumor angiogenesis by exploring the hidden nature of capillary and lymphatic vessels in human organs. He was recognized for demonstrating the effective reduction of tumor progression and metastasis via tumor vessel normalization. This counterintuitive study result is regarded as a stepping stone for a drug discovery to prevent microvascular diseases. Besides Professor Koh, Professor Hee Oh from Yale University (Science), Professor Nam-Gyu Park from Sungkyunkwan University (Engineering), Opera Singer Kwangchul Youn (The Arts) and Sister Carla Kang (Community Service) received awards. The Ho-Am Prize is presented to individuals who have contributed to academics, the arts, and social development, or furthered the welfare of humanity, and commemorates the noble spirit of public service espoused by the late Chairman Byung-chull Lee, who used the pen name Ho-Am. It was established in 1990 by Kun-Hee Lee, the chairman of Samsung. Awards have been presented to 143 individuals worth a total of 24.4 billion KRW.
Two Professors Receive the Asan Medical Award
(Professor Ho Min Kim and Chair Profesor Eunjoon Kim (from far right) Chair Professor Eunjoon Kim of the Department of Biological Sciences and Professor Ho Min Kim from the Graduate School of Medical Science & Engineering won the 11th Asan Medical Award in the areas of basic medicine and young medical scholar on March 21. The Asan Medical Award has been recognizing the most distinguished scholars in the areas of basic and clinical medicines annually since 2007. Chair Professor Kim won the 300 million KRW award in recognition of his research in the mechanism of synaptic brain dysfunction and its relation with neural diseases. The young medical scholar’s award recognizes a promising scholar under the age of 40. Professor Kim won the award for identifying the key protein structure and molecular mechanism controlling immunocytes and neurons. He earned a 50 million KRW prize.
Professor Jeong Ho Lee Receives the 2015 Pediatric Epilepsies Research Award
The award identifies leading scientists worldwide and funds their cutting-edge research in epilepsy. The Citizen United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) announced on September 7, 2015, that Jeong Ho Lee, a professor of the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering at KAIST, will be awarded the 2015 Pediatric Epilepsies Research Award. The Pediatric Epilepsies Research Award is given annually to a researcher who has conducted novel, innovative research projects that address severe, intractable pediatric epilepsies as well as collaborative, interdisciplinary projects that explore new approaches to find a treatment for pediatric epilepsies. Lee was recognized for his leading study in the field of intractable epilepsy. He is the first Korean who has ever received this award, securing a research grant of USD 250,000 for two years. Lee has conducted research on brain somatic mutations as the novel cause of childhood intractable epilepsy. Pediatric epilepsies account for approximately 70% of all cases of epilepsy. Established in 1998, CURE is a non-profit American organization based in Chicago, Illinois, which is committed to funding research and various initiatives that will lead to breakthroughs to cure epilepsy. Since its inception, CURE has been at the forefront of epilepsy research, raising more than USD 32 million to support researchers and scientists worldwide. It has also awarded more than 180 cutting-edge projects in 13 countries.
Research Conducted on the Development Policy of Medical Researchers in United States
The topic dealt in the paper was “The Vietnam War and Medical Research: Untold Legacy of the U.S. Doctor Draft and the NIH ‘Yellow Berets’” and basically deals how a Doctor Draft made a positive impact on improving the basic research of clinical medicine. Professor Park received his Doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and came to KAIST in 2007. Summary of Dissertation From the start of the Korean War in 1950 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973 a large number of medical school graduates were drafted to the army. Of those drafted, 100 personnel were chosen annually to focus on researching in the National Institute of Health who developed into leaders of the field. For example, those who worked as a researcher at the National Institute instead of their armed services were 1.5 times more likely to become a tenured professor, 2 times more likely to be promoted to Dean of the department, and 3 times more likely to be the Dean. In addition, 9 out of 50 Nobel Prize winners in fields of natural sciences between 1985 and 2007 were from the same pool of researchers, and 10 out of 76 recipients of National Medal of Science were also from the same pool of researchers. They were named the ‘Yellow Berets’ like the special forces ‘Green Berets’ and made great contribution to the field in implementing and executing the bench to beside culture that involves development in laboratories to clinical testing. Professor Park maintains that there has to be improvements made in current policies to encourage research work in medical graduate schools.
An internationally renowned academic journal published the research result produced by a KAST research team on its cover.
Fc DAAP VEGF-Trap Photograph showing the gross features of tumor growth along the mesentery-intestinal border. T: tumor. Scale bars represent 5 mm. Professor Gou-Young Koh of the Biological Sciences Department, KAIST, and his research team published their research result in Cancer Cell, a peer-review scientific journal, as a cover article dated August 17, 2010. It is the first time for the journal to pick up a paper written by a Korean research team and publish it as the cover. It has been known that a vascular growth factor (VEGF) is closely related to the growth of a tumor. The research team recently discovered that in addition to VEGF, another growth factor, angiopoietin-2 (Ang2), is also engaged with the increase of tumors. Professor Koh said, “VEGF and the angiopoietins play critical roles in tumor progression and metastasis, and a single inhibitor targeting both factors have not been available.” The team led by Professor Koh has developed a double anti-angiogenic protein (DAAP) that can simultaneously bind VEGF-A and the angiopoietins and block their actions. Professor Koh said in his paper, “DAAP is a highly effective molecule for regressing tumor angiogenesis and metastasis in implanted and spontaneous solid tumor; it can also effectively reduce ascites formation and vascular leakage in an ovarian carcinoma model. Thus, simultaneous blockade of VEGF-A and angiopoietins with DAAP is an effective therapeutic strategy for blocking tumor angiogenesis, metastasis, and vascular leakage.” So far, cancer patients have received Avastin, anticancer drug, to inhibit VEGF, but the drug has not successfully restrained the growth of cancer tumors and brought to some of the patients with serious side effects instead. Professor Koh said, “DAAP will be very effective to control the expansion of tumor growth factors, which will open up a new possibility for the development of more helpful cancer medicine with low side effects.”
KAIST Research Team Identified Promising New Source to Obtain Stem Cells
KAIST Research Team Identified Promising New Source to Obtain Stem Cells A research team at KAIST led by Professor Gou-Young Koh, M.D. and Ph.D., of the Department of Biological Sciences, has found evidence that fat tissue, known as adipose tissue, may be a promising new source of valuable and easy-to-obtain regenerative cells called hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). HSPCs are adult stem cells that have the ability to generate and develop into many different kinds of cells. They are now used to repair damaged tissues and are being studied for their potential to treat a vast array of chronic and degenerative conditions such as leukemia. Mostly found in bone marrow but with a limited quantity, HSPCs are hard to cultivate in vitro, thus becoming an obstacle to use them for research and therapeutic purposes. Within the adipose tissue is a special cell population known as the stromal vascular fraction (SVF), which share similar properties to those in the bone marrow. Cells in the bone marrow and SVF have the ability to differentiate into several cell types. In addition, both adipose and bone marrow offer similar environments for optimal stem cell growth and reproduction. Given the fact that adipose and bone marrow tissues share similar properties, Dr. Koh and his team conducted a research, injecting granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), a growth hormone used to encourage the development of stem cells, into an adipose tissue of a mouse whose bone marrow is damaged. As a result, the team has found that the SVF derived from adipose tissue contains functional HSPCs capable of generating hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells to repair the damaged bone morrow. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology nominated the KAIST research as one of its sponsoring 21st Century Frontier R&D Programs. Director Dong-Wook Kim of Stem Cell Research Center (SCRS) that oversees the KAIST team expressed a possibility to use the adipose tissue as an alternative source to obtain stem cells for regeneration medicine. Dr. Koh also said, “It’s been a well known method to extract HSPCs from the bone morrow or blood, but it’s the first time to identify adipose tissue, before considered useless, as a new possible supplier for functional and transplantable HSPCs.” The study results have received an important recognition from the academia—the American Society of Hematology published the research as a main article in its official journal, Blood, for the February 4th, 2010 issue, which is the most citied peer-reviewed publication in the field.
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