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A Korean research team develops a new clinical candidate for fatty liver disease
A team of Korean researchers have succeeded in developing a new drug candidate for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) acting on peripheral tissues. To date, there has not been an optimal treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and this discovery is expected to set the grounds for the development of new drugs that can safely suppress both liver fat accumulation and liver fibrosis at the same time. A joint research team led by Professor Jin Hee Ahn from Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) and Professor Hail Kim from the KAIST Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering developed a new chemical that can suppress disease-specific protein (HTR2A) through years of basic research. The team also revealed to have verified its efficacy and safety through preclinical tests (animal tests) at JD Bioscience Inc., a start-up company founded by Professor Ahn. Although NAFLD has a prevalence rate as high as 20-30%, and about 5% of the global adult population suffers from NASH, there are no commercial drugs targeting them to date. NAFLD is a chronic disease that starts from the fatty liver and progresses into steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The mortality rate of patients increases with accompanied cardiovascular diseases and liver-related complications, and appropriate treatment in the early stage is hence necessary. < Figure 1. Strategy and history of 5HT2A antagonists. Library and rational design for the development of compound 11c as a potent 5HT2A antagonist. Previous research efforts were discontinued due to limited oral absorption and safety. A therapeutic candidate to overcome this problem was identified and phase 1 clinical trials are currently in progress. > The new synthetic chemical developed by the joint GIST-KAIST research is an innovative drug candidate that shows therapeutic effects on NASH based on a dual action mechanism that inhibits the accumulation of fat in the liver and liver fibrosis by suppressing the serotonin receptor protein 5HT2A. The research team confirmed its therapeutic effects in animal models for NAFLD and NASH, in which hepatic steatosis and liver fibrosis* caused by fat accumulation in the liver were suppressed simultaneously by 50-70%. *fibrosis: stiffening of parts of the liver, also used as a major indicator to track the prognosis of steatosis The research team explained that the material was designed with optimal polarity and lipid affinity to minimize its permeability across the blood-brain barrier. It therefore does not affect the brain, and causes little side effects in the central nervous system (CNS) such as depression and suicidal ideations, while demonstrating excellent inhibition on its target protein present in tissues outside brain (IC50* = 14 nM). The team also demonstrated its superior efficacy in improving liver fibrosis when compared to similar drugs in the phase 3 clinical trial. *IC50 (half maximal inhibitory concentration): the concentration at which a chemical suppresses 50% of a particular biological function < Figure 2. GM-60106 (11c)'s effect on obesity: When GM-60106 was administered to an obese animal model (mice) for 2 months, body weight, body fat mass, and blood sugar were significantly reduced (a-d). In addition, the steatohepatitis level (NAFLD Activity Score) and the expression of genes of the treated mice involved in adipogenesis along with blood/liver fat decreased (e-h) > Based on the pharmacological data obtained through preclinical trials, the team evaluated the effects of the drug on 88 healthy adults as part of their phase 1 clinical trial, where the side effects and the safe dosage of a drug are tested against healthy adults. Results showed no serious side effects and a good level of drug safety. In addition, a preliminary efficacy evaluation on eight adults with steatohepatitis is currently underway. Professor Jin Hee Ahn said, “The aim of this research is to develop a treatment for NASH with little side effects and guaranteed safety by developing a new target. The developed chemical is currently going through phase 1 of the global clinical trial in Australia through JD Bioscience Inc., a bio venture company for innovative drug development.” he added, “The candidate material the research team is currently developing shows not only a high level of safety and preventative effects by suppressing fat accumulation in the liver, but also a direct therapeutic effect on liver fibrosis. This is a strength that distinguishes our material from other competing drugs.” < Figure 3. Efficacy of GM-60106 (11c) on liver fibrosis: When GM-60106 was administered to a steatohepatitis model (mice) for 3 months, the expression of genes associated with tissue fibrosis was significantly reduced (b-c). As a result of a detailed analysis of the tissues of the animal model, it was confirmed that the rate of tissue fibrosis was reduced and the expression rate of genes related to tissue fibrosis and inflammation was also significantly reduced (e-h). > Professor Hail Kim from KAIST said, “Until now, this disease did not have a method of treatment other than weight control, and there has been no attempt to develop a drug that can be used for non-obese patients.” He added, “Through this research, we look forward to the development of various treatment techniques targeting a range of metabolic diseases including NASH that do not affect the weight of the patient.” This study, conducted together by the research teams led by Professor Ahn from GIST and Professor Kim from KAIST, as well as the research team from JD Bioscience Inc., was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT, and the National New Drug Development Project. The results of this research were published by Nature Communications on January 20. The team also presented the results of their clinical study on the candidate material coded GM-60106 targeting metabolic abnormality-related MASH* at NASH-TAG Conference 2024, which was held in Utah for three days starting on January 4, which was selected as an excellent abstract. *MASH (Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatohepatitis): new replacement term for NASH
World-renowned Soprano Sumi Jo and Broadcom CEO Hock Tan awarded honorary doctorate from KAIST
< (From left) Sumi Jo, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Culture and Technology, and Broadcom President and CEO Hock Tan > KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced that it awarded honorary doctorates to world-renowned soprano Sumi Jo, a distinguished visiting professor at the Graduate School of Culture and Technology, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of Broadcom Inc., Hock Tan, at the graduation ceremony held on the 16th of February, 2024. Professor Sumi Jo, who received an honorary doctorate in science and technology, was appointed as a visiting professor at KAIST Graduate School of Culture and Technology in 2021 and established the "Sumi Jo Performing Arts Research Center" and have been involved in research providing valuable feedback on projects to put on stage performances utilizing AI-orchestrated musical ensemble technology and research on virtual voices using vocal synthesis technology, as well as participating in the demonstration of the technological performance showcased at KAIST. Also, she held a special lecture and a talk concert for KAIST students, sharing her experience as a celebrated soprano on the world stage and having honest conversations with students. KAIST said, “The doctorate is being awarded in recognition of her contributions that is broadening the spectrum of research in the field of science and technology to lead the digital era by suggesting a direction for future science and technology to take led by culture. Also, her significant contribution to promoting necessary internationalization capabilities helps KAIST as it is growing into a world-class university through new academic challenges.” < Professor Sumi Jo (left), who received an honorary doctorate in science and technology, and President Kwang-Hyung Lee > Professor Sumi Jo, who debuted as Gilda in the opera in 1986, has performed with world-class conductors such as Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, and James Levine. She has released over 40 full-length albums and continues to excel in all areas of vocal performances, including film scores, songs, and musicals. Professor Sumi Jo said, “When I received a proposal from President Kwang-Hyung Lee of KAIST to convey what I experienced and felt on the world stage to students of science at KAIST under the topic of ‘Music and My Life,’ questions started to swirl inside of me.” She continued, “Singing on stage is about ‘expressing,’ and it is a comprehensive artistic process that unfolding the artist’s inner self (expression) and showing it (presentation) in a way that the audience can best feel it through methods such as sound, lighting, and directing. And I realized that, I was singing all my life in an environment where science and technology coexisted with culture and art.” “When I worked with the students here at KAIST, I came to realize that when scientific and technologically talented people are set free to really enjoy their ideas and explore them on their own terms, their insight become sharper and their creativity become richer,” she said. She went on to add, “I am proud to be able to join the graduates at the ceremony and would like to express my gratitude for awarding me the honorary doctorate.” < (From left) President Hock Tan, who received the honorary doctorate in engineering, Mrs. Lya Trung Tan, and President Kwang-Hyung Lee > Hock Tan received an honorary doctorate in engineering. He is a highly successful businessman who demonstrated entrepreneurship based on a profound understanding of science and technology, which transformed Broadcom into a global enterprise in technology that provides semiconductor and software solutions. Broadcom has achieved advancement and technological innovation in the semiconductor industry tailored to computer and telecommunication networks, and is evaluated as having played a major role in bringing about the digital transformation movement that is now encompassing the global communities. Tan attributes the secret to his success to ‘the considerate decision made by the university to award him the scholarship which enabled him to pursue his degree’ and ‘the great team members working with him’..’ Also, he is well-known as a person who considers giving back to society his most important mission. To support effective medical treatment and identification of the cause of autism, Tan has made large donations to MIT and Harvard University since 2017 several times, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he reinforced his support to improve the treatment of workers at community medical institutions and non-profit organizations. He also founded the Broadcom Foundation, which supports science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs for students in and outside the United States. KAIST said, “We are awarding CEO Hock Tan the honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to KAIST’s emergence as a world-class university, as he emphasized the importance of convergence research and internationalization of KAIST during his time serving as an overseas member of the KAIST President's Advisory Council from 2006 to 2013, while providing policy advices built on his experiences of innovations from various parts around the world.” Tan emphasized, “KAIST has been vital to Korea’s advancement in the global economy. (KAIST) remains a source of technological innovation,” and that, “It is truly an honor to be recognized by an institution with such a distinguished record of excellence in science, engineering and research.” President Kwang-Hyung Lee said, “Professor Sumi Jo’s exploration into the future of performing arts through science and technology helps to expand KAIST’s scope and enhance our creative capabilities, while the dedication and humane efforts Hock Tan demonstrates as he contributes to digital innovation through corporate management and engages in various social contribution activities serves as a superb example to all members of KAIST.” He continued, “These two have lived out the values of challenge and innovation and became examples for many, and we are very pleased to welcome them as the newest members of the KAIST family. On behalf of all members of KAIST, I deliver our sincere congratulations.”
Team KAIST placed among top two at MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge
Representing Korean Robotics at Sea: KAIST’s 26-month strife rewarded Team KAIST placed among top two at MBZIRC Maritime Grand Challenge - Team KAIST, composed of students from the labs of Professor Jinwhan Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Hyunchul Shim of the School of Electrical and Engineering, came through the challenge as the first runner-up winning the prize money totaling up to $650,000 (KRW 860 million). - Successfully led the autonomous collaboration of unmanned aerial and maritime vehicles using cutting-edge robotics and AI technology through to the final round of the competition held in Abu Dhabi from January 10 to February 6, 2024. KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee), reported on the 8th that Team KAIST, led by students from the labs of Professor Jinwhan Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Professor Hyunchul Shim of the School of Electrical Engineering, with Pablo Aviation as a partner, won a total prize money of $650,000 (KRW 860 million) at the Maritime Grand Challenge by the Mohamed Bin Zayed International Robotics Challenge (MBZIRC), finishing first runner-up. This competition, which is the largest ever robotics competition held over water, is sponsored by the government of the United Arab Emirates and organized by ASPIRE, an organization under the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Science, with a total prize money of $3 million. In the competition, which started at the end of 2021, 52 teams from around the world participated and five teams were selected to go on to the finals in February 2023 after going through the first and second stages of screening. The final round was held from January 10 to February 6, 2024, using actual unmanned ships and drones in a secluded sea area of 10 km2 off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. A total of 18 KAIST students and Professor Jinwhan Kim and Professor Hyunchul Shim took part in this competition at the location at Abu Dhabi. Team KAIST will receive $500,000 in prize money for taking second place in the final, and the team’s prize money totals up to $650,000 including $150,000 that was as special midterm award for finalists. The final mission scenario is to find the target vessel on the run carrying illegal cargoes among many ships moving within the GPS-disabled marine surface, and inspect the deck for two different types of stolen cargo to recover them using the aerial vehicle to bring the small cargo and the robot manipulator topped on an unmanned ship to retrieve the larger one. The true aim of the mission is to complete it through autonomous collaboration of the unmanned ship and the aerial vehicle without human intervention throughout the entire mission process. In particular, since GPS cannot be used in this competition due to regulations, Professor Jinwhan Kim's research team developed autonomous operation techniques for unmanned ships, including searching and navigating methods using maritime radar, and Professor Hyunchul Shim's research team developed video-based navigation and a technology to combine a small autonomous robot with a drone. The final mission is to retrieve cargo on board a ship fleeing at sea through autonomous collaboration between unmanned ships and unmanned aerial vehicles without human intervention. The overall mission consists the first stage of conducting the inspection to find the target ship among several ships moving at sea and the second stage of conducting the intervention mission to retrieve the cargoes on the deck of the ship. Each team was given a total of three opportunities, and the team that completed the highest-level mission in the shortest time during the three attempts received the highest score. In the first attempt, KAIST was the only team to succeed in the first stage search mission, but the competition began in earnest as the Croatian team also completed the first stage mission in the second attempt. As the competition schedule was delayed due to strong winds and high waves that continued for several days, the organizers decided to hold the finals with the three teams, including the Team KAIST and the team from Croatia’s the University of Zagreb, which completed the first stage of the mission, and Team Fly-Eagle, a team of researcher from China and UAE that partially completed the first stage. The three teams were given the chance to proceed to the finals and try for the third attempt, and in the final competition, the Croatian team won, KAIST took the second place, and the combined team of UAE-China combined team took the third place. The final prize to be given for the winning team is set at $2 million with $500,000 for the runner-up team, and $250,000 for the third-place. Professor Jinwhan Kim of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who served as the advisor for Team KAIST, said, “I would like to express my gratitude and congratulations to the students who put in a huge academic and physical efforts in preparing for the competition over the past two years. I feel rewarded because, regardless of the results, every bit of efforts put into this up to this point will become the base of their confidence and a valuable asset in their growth into a great researcher.” Sol Han, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering who served as the team leader, said, “I am disappointed of how narrowly we missed out on winning at the end, but I am satisfied with the significance of the output we’ve got and I am grateful to the team members who worked hard together for that.” HD Hyundai, Rainbow Robotics, Avikus, and FIMS also participated as sponsors for Team KAIST's campaign.
A KAIST Research Team Develops a Novel “Bone Bandage” Material for Cracked Bones
Bone regeneration is a complex process, and existing methods to aid regeneration including transplants and growth factor transmissions face limitations such as the high cost. But recently, a piezoelectric material that can promote the growth of bone tissue has been developed. A KAIST research team led by Professor Seungbum Hong from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) announced on January 25 the development of a biomimetic scaffold that generates electrical signals upon the application of pressure by utilizing the unique osteogenic ability of hydroxyapatite (HAp). This research was conducted in collaboration with a team led by Professor Jangho Kim from the Department of Convergence Biosystems Engineering at Chonnam National University. HAp is a basic calcium phosphate material found in bones and teeth. This biocompatible mineral substance is also known to prevent tooth decay and is often used in toothpaste. Previous studies on piezoelectric scaffolds confirmed the effects of piezoelectricity on promoting bone regeneration and improving bone fusion in various polymer-based materials, but were limited in simulating the complex cellular environment required for optimal bone tissue regeneration. However, this research suggests a new method for utilizing the unique osteogenic abilities of HAp to develop a material that mimics the environment for bone tissue in a living body. < Figure 1. Design and characterization of piezoelectrically and topographically originated biomimetic scaffolds. (a) Schematic representation of the enhanced bone regeneration mechanism through electrical and topographical cues provided by HAp-incorporated P(VDF-TrFE) scaffolds. (b) Schematic diagram of the fabrication process. > The research team developed a manufacturing process that fuses HAp with a polymer film. The flexible and free-standing scaffold developed through this process demonstrated its remarkable potential for promoting bone regeneration through in-vitro and in-vivo experiments in rats. The team also identified the principles of bone regeneration that their scaffold is based on. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM), they analysed the electrical properties of the scaffold and evaluated the detailed surface properties related to cell shape and cell skeletal protein formation. They also investigated the effects of piezoelectricity and surface properties on the expression of growth factors. Professor Hong from KAIST’s DMSE said, “We have developed a HAp-based piezoelectric composite material that can act like a ‘bone bandage’ through its ability to accelerate bone regeneration.” He added, “This research not only suggests a new direction for designing biomaterials, but is also significant in having explored the effects of piezoelectricity and surface properties on bone regeneration.” This research, conducted by co-first authors Soyun Joo and Soyeon Kim from Professor Hong’s group, was published on ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces on January 4 under the title “Piezoelectrically and Topographically Engineered Scaffolds for Accelerating Bone Regeneration”. From Professor Kim’s group, Ph.D. candidate Yonghyun Gwon also participated as co-first author, and Professor Kim himself as a corresponding author. < Figure 2. Analysis of piezoelectric and surface properties of the biomimetic scaffolds using atomic force microscopy. (a) PFM amplitude and phase images of box-poled composite scaffolds. The white bar represents 2 μm. (b) 3D representations of composite scaffolds paired with typical 2D line sections. (c) In vivo bone regeneration micro-CT analysis, (d) schematic representation of filler-derived electrical origins in bone regeneration. > This research was supported by the KAIST Research and Development Team, the KUSTAR-KAIST Joint Research Center, the KAIST Global Singularity Project, and the government-funded Basic Research Project by the National Research Foundation of Korea.
KAIST Research team develops anti-icing film that only requires sunlight
A KAIST research team has developed an anti-icing and de-icing film coating technology that can apply the photothermal effect of gold nanoparticles to industrial sites without the need for heating wires, periodic spray or oil coating of anti-freeze substances, and substrate design alterations. The group led by Professor Hyoungsoo Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering (Fluid & Interface Laboratory) and Professor Dong Ki Yoon from the Department of Chemistry (Soft Material Assembly Group) revealed on January 3 to have together developed an original technique that can uniformly pattern gold nanorod (GNR) particles in quadrants through simple evaporation, and have used this to develop an anti-icing and de-icing surface. Many scientists in recent years have tried to control substrate surfaces through various coating techniques, and those involving the patterning of functional nanomaterials have gained special attention. In particular, GNR is considered a promising candidate nanomaterial for its biocompatibility, chemical stability, relatively simple synthesis, and its stable and unique property of surface plasmon resonance. To maximize the performance of GNR, it is important to achieve a high uniformity during film deposition, and a high level of rod alignment. However, achieving both criteria has thus far been a difficult challenge. < Figure 1. Conceptual image to display Hydrodynamic mechanisms for the formation of a homogeneous quadrant cellulose nanocrystal(CNC) matrix. > To solve this, the joint research team utilized cellulose nanocrystal (CNC), a next-generation functional nanomaterial that can easily be extracted from nature. By co-assembling GNR on CNC quadrant templates, the team could uniformly dry the film and successfully obtain a GNR film with a uniform alignment in a ring-shape. Compared to existing coffee-ring films, the highly uniform and aligned GNR film developed through this research showed enhanced plasmonic photothermal properties, and the team showed that it could carry out anti-icing and de-icing functions by simply irradiating light in the visible wavelength range. < Figure 2. Optical and thermal performance evaluation results of gold nanorod film and demonstration of plasmonic heater for anti-icing and de-icing. > Professor Hyoungsoo Kim said, “This technique can be applied to plastic, as well as flexible surfaces. By using it on exterior materials and films, it can generate its own heat energy, which would greatly save energy through voluntary thermal energy harvesting across various applications including cars, aircrafts, and windows in residential or commercial spaces, where frosting becomes a serious issue in the winter.” Professor Dong Ki Yoon added, “This research is significant in that we can now freely pattern the CNC-GNR composite, which was previously difficult to create into films, over a large area. We can utilize this as an anti-icing material, and if we were to take advantage of the plasmonic properties of gold, we can also use it like stained-glass to decorate glass surfaces.” This research was conducted by Ph.D. candidate Jeongsu Pyeon from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his co-first author Dr. Soon Mo Park (a KAIST graduate, currently a post-doctoral associate at Cornell University), and was pushed in the online volume of Nature Communication on December 8, 2023 under the title “Plasmonic Metasurfaces of Cellulose Nanocrystal Matrices with Quadrants of Aligned Gold Nanorods for Photothermal Anti-Icing." Recognized for its achievement, the research was also selected as an editor’s highlight for the journals Materials Science and Chemistry, and Inorganic and Physical Chemistry. This research was supported by the Individual Basic Mid-Sized Research Fund from the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Center for Multiscale Chiral Architectures.
NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference Held
< Photo 1. Opening of NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference > In attendance of the Minister of Science and ICT Jong-ho Lee, NYU President Linda G. Mills, and KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee, KAIST co-hosted the NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference at the Paulson Center of New York University (NYU) in New York City, USA on September 21st, 9:30 pm. At the conference, KAIST and NYU discussed the direction and policies for ‘global AI and digital governance’ with participants of upto 300 people which includes scholars, professors, and students involved in the academic field of AI and digitalization from both Korea and the United States and other international backgrounds. This conference was a forum of an international discussion that sought new directions for AI and digital technology take in the future and gathered consensus on regulations. Following a welcoming address by KAIST President, Kwang Hyung Lee and a congratulatory message from the Minister of Science and ICT, Jong-ho Lee, a panel discussion was held, moderated by Professor Matthew Liao, a graduate of Princeton and Oxford University, currently serving as a professor at NYU and the director at the Center for Bioethics of the NYU School of Global Public Health. Six prominent scholars took part in the panel discussion. Prof. Kyung-hyun Cho of NYU Applied Mathematics and Data Science Center, a KAIST graduate who has joined the ranks of the world-class in AI language models and Professor Jong Chul Ye, the Director of Promotion Council for Digital Health at KAIST, who is leading innovative research in the field of medical AI working in collaboration with major hospitals at home and abroad was on the panel. Additionally, Professor Luciano Floridi, a founding member of the Yale University Center for Digital Ethics, Professor Shannon Vallor, the Baillie Gifford Professor in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh of the UK, Professor Stefaan Verhulst, a Co-Founder and the DIrector of GovLab‘s Data Program at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, and Professor Urs Gasser, who is in charge of public policy, governance and innovative technology at the Technical University of Munich, also participated. Professor Matthew Liao from NYU led the discussion on various topics such as the ways to to regulate AI and digital technologies; the concerns about how deep learning technology being developed in medicinal purposes could be used in warfare; the scope of responsibilities Al scientists' responsibility should carry in ensuring the usage of AI are limited to benign purposes only; the effects of external regulation on the AI model developers and the research they pursue; and on the lessons that can be learned from the regulations in other fields. During the panel discussion, there was an exchange of ideas about a system of standards that could harmonize digital development and regulatory and social ethics in today’s situation in which digital transformation accelerates technological development at a global level, there is a looming concern that while such advancements are bringing economic vitality it may create digital divides and probles like manipulation of public opinion. Professor Jong-cheol Ye of KAIST (Director of the Promotion Council for Digital Health), in particular, emphasized that it is important to find a point of balance that does not hinder the advancements rather than opting to enforcing strict regulations. < Photo 2. Panel Discussion in Session at NYU-KAIST Global AI & Digital Governance Conference > KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee explained, “At the Digital Governance Forum we had last October, we focused on exploring new governance to solve digital challenges in the time of global digital transition, and this year’s main focus was on regulations.” “This conference served as an opportunity of immense value as we came to understand that appropriate regulations can be a motivation to spur further developments rather than a hurdle when it comes to technological advancements, and that it is important for us to clearly understand artificial intelligence and consider what should and can be regulated when we are to set regulations on artificial intelligence,” he continued. Earlier, KAIST signed a cooperation agreement with NYU to build a joint campus, June last year and held a plaque presentation ceremony for the KAIST NYU Joint Campus last September to promote joint research between the two universities. KAIST is currently conducting joint research with NYU in nine fields, including AI and digital research. The KAIST-NYU Joint Campus was conceived with the goal of building an innovative sandbox campus centering aroung science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) combining NYU's excellent humanities and arts as well as basic science and convergence research capabilities with KAIST's science and technology. KAIST has contributed to the development of Korea's industry and economy through technological innovation aiding in the nation’s transformation into an innovative nation with scientific and technological prowess. KAIST will now pursue an anchor/base strategy to raise KAIST's awareness in New York through the NYU Joint Campus by establishing a KAIST campus within the campus of NYU, the heart of New York.
KAIST holds its first ‘KAIST Tech Fair’ in New York, USA
< Photo 1. 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST (President Kwang-Hyung Lee) announced on the 11th that it will hold the ‘2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York’ at the Kimmel Center at New York University in Manhattan, USA, on the 22nd of this month. It is an event designed to be the starting point for KAIST to expand its startup ecosystem into the global stage, and it is to attract investments and secure global customers in New York by demonstrating the technological value of KAIST startup companies directly at location. < Photo 2. President Kwang Hyung Lee at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York > KAIST has been holding briefing sessions for technology transfer in Korea every year since 2018, and this year is the first time to hold a tech fair overseas for global companies. KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (Director Sung-Yool Choi) has prepared for this event over the past six months with the Korea International Trade Association (hereinafter KITA, CEO Christopher Koo) to survey customer base and investment companies to conduct market analysis. Among the companies founded with the technologies developed by the faculty and students of KAIST and their partners, 7 companies were selected to be matched with companies overseas that expressed interests in these technologies. Global multinational companies in the fields of IT, artificial intelligence, environment, logistics, distribution, and retail are participating as demand agencies and are testing the marketability of the start-up's technology as of September. Daim Research, founded by Professor Young Jae Jang of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is a company specializing in smart factory automation solutions and is knocking on the door of the global market with a platform technology optimized for automated logistics systems. < Photo 3. Presentation by Professor Young Jae Jang for DAIM Research > It is a ‘collaborative intelligence’ solution that maximizes work productivity by having a number of robots used in industrial settings collaborate with one another. The strength of their solution is that logistics robots equipped with AI reinforced learning technology can respond to processes and environmental changes on their own, minimizing maintenance costs and the system can achieve excellent performance even with a small amount of data when it is combined with the digital twin technology the company has developed on its own. A student startup, ‘Aniai’, is entering the US market, the home of hamburgers, with hamburger patty automation equipments and solutions. This is a robot kitchen startup founded by its CEO Gunpil Hwang, a graduate of KAIST’s School of Electrical Engineering which gathered together the experts in the fields of robot control, design, and artificial intelligence and cognitive technology to develop technology to automatically cook hamburger patties. At the touch of a button, both sides of the patty are cooked simultaneously for consistent taste and quality according to the set condition. Since it can cook about 200 dishes in an hour, it is attracting attention as a technology that can not only solve manpower shortages but also accelerate the digital transformation of the restaurant industry. Also, at the tech fair to be held at the Kimmel Center of New York University on the 22nd, the following startups who are currently under market verification in the U.S. will be participating: ▴'TheWaveTalk', which developed a water quality management system that can measure external substances and metal ions by transferring original technology from KAIST; ▴‘VIRNECT’, which helps workers improve their skills by remotely managing industrial sites using XR*; ▴‘Datumo’, a solution that helps process and analyze artificial intelligence big data, ▴‘VESSL AI’, the provider of a solution to eliminate the overhead** of machine learning systems; and ▴ ‘DolbomDream’, which developed an inflatable vest that helps the psychological stability of people with developmental disabilities. * XR (eXtended Reality): Ultra-realistic technology that enhances immersion by utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality technologies ** Overhead: Additional time required for stable processing of the program In addition, two companies (Plasmapp and NotaAI) that are participating in the D-Unicorn program with the support of the Daejeon City and two companies (Enget and ILIAS Biologics) that are receiving support from the Scale Up Tips of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, three companies (WiPowerOne, IDK Lab, and Artificial Photosynthesis Lab) that are continuing to realize the sustainable development goals for a total of 14 KAIST startups, will hold a corporate information session with about 100 invited guests from global companies and venture capital. < Photo 4. Presentation for AP Lab > Prior to this event, participating startups will be visiting the New York Economic Development Corporation and large law firms to receive advice on U.S. government support programs and on their attemps to enter the U.S. market. In addition, the participating companies plan to visit a startup support investment institution pursuing sustainable development goals and the Leslie eLab, New York University's one-stop startup support space, to lay the foundation for KAIST's leap forward in global technology commercialization. < Photo 5. Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation (left) at the 2023 KAIST Tech Fair in New York with the key participants > Sung-Yool Choi, the Director of KAIST Institute of Technology Value Creation, said, “KAIST prepared this event to realize its vision of being a leading university in creating global value.” He added, “We hope that our startups founded with KAIST technology would successfully completed market verification to be successful in securing global demands and in attracting investments for their endeavors.”
Professor Joseph J. Lim of KAIST receives the Best System Paper Award from RSS 2023, First in Korea
- Professor Joseph J. Lim from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST and his team receive an award for the most outstanding paper in the implementation of robot systems. - Professor Lim works on AI-based perception, reasoning, and sequential decision-making to develop systems capable of intelligent decision-making, including robot learning < Photo 1. RSS2023 Best System Paper Award Presentation > The team of Professor Joseph J. Lim from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST has been honored with the 'Best System Paper Award' at "Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) 2023". The RSS conference is globally recognized as a leading event for showcasing the latest discoveries and advancements in the field of robotics. It is a venue where the greatest minds in robotics engineering and robot learning come together to share their research breakthroughs. The RSS Best System Paper Award is a prestigious honor granted to a paper that excels in presenting real-world robot system implementation and experimental results. < Photo 2. Professor Joseph J. Lim of Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST > The team led by Professor Lim, including two Master's students and an alumnus (soon to be appointed at Yonsei University), received the prestigious RSS Best System Paper Award, making it the first-ever achievement for a Korean and for a domestic institution. < Photo 3. Certificate of the Best System Paper Award presented at RSS 2023 > This award is especially meaningful considering the broader challenges in the field. Although recent progress in artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms has resulted in numerous breakthroughs in robotics, most of these achievements have been confined to relatively simple and short tasks, like walking or pick-and-place. Moreover, tasks are typically performed in simulated environments rather than dealing with more complex, long-horizon real-world tasks such as factory operations or household chores. These limitations primarily stem from the considerable challenge of acquiring data required to develop and validate learning-based AI techniques, particularly in real-world complex tasks. In light of these challenges, this paper introduced a benchmark that employs 3D printing to simplify the reproduction of furniture assembly tasks in real-world environments. Furthermore, it proposed a standard benchmark for the development and comparison of algorithms for complex and long-horizon tasks, supported by teleoperation data. Ultimately, the paper suggests a new research direction of addressing complex and long-horizon tasks and encourages diverse advancements in research by facilitating reproducible experiments in real-world environments. Professor Lim underscored the growing potential for integrating robots into daily life, driven by an aging population and an increase in single-person households. As robots become part of everyday life, testing their performance in real-world scenarios becomes increasingly crucial. He hoped this research would serve as a cornerstone for future studies in this field. The Master's students, Minho Heo and Doohyun Lee, from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST, also shared their aspirations to become global researchers in the domain of robot learning. Meanwhile, the alumnus of Professor Lim's research lab, Dr. Youngwoon Lee, is set to be appointed to the Graduate School of AI at Yonsei University and will continue pursuing research in robot learning. Paper title: Furniture Bench: Reproducible Real-World Benchmark for Long-Horizon Complex Manipulation. Robotics: Science and Systems. < Image. Conceptual Summary of the 3D Printing Technology >
KAIST Civil Engineering Students named Runner-up at the 2023 ULI Hines Student Competition - Asia Pacific
A team of five students from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) were awarded second place in a premier urban design student competition hosted by the Urban Land Institute and Hines, 2023 ULI Hines Student Competition - Asia Pacific. The competition, which was held for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region, is an internationally recognized event which typically attract hundreds of applicants. Jonah Remigio, Sojung Noh, Estefania Rodriguez, Jihyun Kang, and Ayantu Teshome, who joined forces under the name of “Team Hashtag Development”, were supported by faculty advisors Dr. Albert Han and Dr. Youngchul Kim of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to imagine a more sustainable and enriched way of living in the Jurong district of Singapore. Their submission, titled “Proposal: The Nest”, analyzed the big data within Singapore, using the data to determine which real estate business strategies would best enhance the quality of living and economy of the region. Their final design, "The Nest" utilized mixed-use zoning to integrate the site’s scenic waterfront with homes, medical innovation, and sustainable technology, altogether creating a place to innovate, inhabit, and immerse. < The Nest by Team Hashtag Development (Jonah Remigio, Ayantu Teshome Mossisa, Estefania Ayelen Rodriguez del Puerto, Sojung Noh, Jihyun Kang) ©2023 Urban Land Institute > Ultimately, the team was recognized for their hard work and determination, imprinting South Korea’s indelible footprint in the arena of international scholastic achievement as they were named to be one of the Finalists on April 13th. < Members of Team Hashtag Development > Team Hashtag Development gave a virtual presentation to a jury of six ULI members on April 20th along with the "Team The REAL" from the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam and "Team Omusubi" from the Waseda University of Japan, the team that submitted the proposal "Jurong Urban Health Campus" which was announced to be the winner on the 31st of May, after the virtual briefing by the top three finalists.
KAIST debuts “DreamWaQer” - a quadrupedal robot that can walk in the dark
- The team led by Professor Hyun Myung of the School of Electrical Engineering developed “DreamWaQ”, a deep reinforcement learning-based walking robot control technology that can walk in an atypical environment without visual and/or tactile information - Utilization of “DreamWaQ” technology can enable mass production of various types of “DreamWaQers” - Expected to be used in exploration of atypical environment involving unique circumstances such as disasters by fire. A team of Korean engineering researchers has developed a quadrupedal robot technology that can climb up and down the steps and moves without falling over in uneven environments such as tree roots without the help of visual or tactile sensors even in disastrous situations in which visual confirmation is impeded due to darkness or thick smoke from the flames. KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 29th of March that Professor Hyun Myung's research team at the Urban Robotics Lab in the School of Electrical Engineering developed a walking robot control technology that enables robust 'blind locomotion' in various atypical environments. < (From left) Prof. Hyun Myung, Doctoral Candidates I Made Aswin Nahrendra, Byeongho Yu, and Minho Oh. In the foreground is the DreamWaQer, a quadrupedal robot equipped with DreamWaQ technology. > The KAIST research team developed "DreamWaQ" technology, which was named so as it enables walking robots to move about even in the dark, just as a person can walk without visual help fresh out of bed and going to the bathroom in the dark. With this technology installed atop any legged robots, it will be possible to create various types of "DreamWaQers". Existing walking robot controllers are based on kinematics and/or dynamics models. This is expressed as a model-based control method. In particular, on atypical environments like the open, uneven fields, it is necessary to obtain the feature information of the terrain more quickly in order to maintain stability as it walks. However, it has been shown to depend heavily on the cognitive ability to survey the surrounding environment. In contrast, the controller developed by Professor Hyun Myung's research team based on deep reinforcement learning (RL) methods can quickly calculate appropriate control commands for each motor of the walking robot through data of various environments obtained from the simulator. Whereas the existing controllers that learned from simulations required a separate re-orchestration to make it work with an actual robot, this controller developed by the research team is expected to be easily applied to various walking robots because it does not require an additional tuning process. DreamWaQ, the controller developed by the research team, is largely composed of a context estimation network that estimates the ground and robot information and a policy network that computes control commands. The context-aided estimator network estimates the ground information implicitly and the robot’s status explicitly through inertial information and joint information. This information is fed into the policy network to be used to generate optimal control commands. Both networks are learned together in the simulation. While the context-aided estimator network is learned through supervised learning, the policy network is learned through an actor-critic architecture, a deep RL methodology. The actor network can only implicitly infer surrounding terrain information. In the simulation, the surrounding terrain information is known, and the critic, or the value network, that has the exact terrain information evaluates the policy of the actor network. This whole learning process takes only about an hour in a GPU-enabled PC, and the actual robot is equipped with only the network of learned actors. Without looking at the surrounding terrain, it goes through the process of imagining which environment is similar to one of the various environments learned in the simulation using only the inertial sensor (IMU) inside the robot and the measurement of joint angles. If it suddenly encounters an offset, such as a staircase, it will not know until its foot touches the step, but it will quickly draw up terrain information the moment its foot touches the surface. Then the control command suitable for the estimated terrain information is transmitted to each motor, enabling rapidly adapted walking. The DreamWaQer robot walked not only in the laboratory environment, but also in an outdoor environment around the campus with many curbs and speed bumps, and over a field with many tree roots and gravel, demonstrating its abilities by overcoming a staircase with a difference of a height that is two-thirds of its body. In addition, regardless of the environment, the research team confirmed that it was capable of stable walking ranging from a slow speed of 0.3 m/s to a rather fast speed of 1.0 m/s. The results of this study were produced by a student in doctorate course, I Made Aswin Nahrendra, as the first author, and his colleague Byeongho Yu as a co-author. It has been accepted to be presented at the upcoming IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) scheduled to be held in London at the end of May. (Paper title: DreamWaQ: Learning Robust Quadrupedal Locomotion With Implicit Terrain Imagination via Deep Reinforcement Learning) The videos of the walking robot DreamWaQer equipped with the developed DreamWaQ can be found at the address below. Main Introduction: https://youtu.be/JC1_bnTxPiQ Experiment Sketches: https://youtu.be/mhUUZVbeDA0 Meanwhile, this research was carried out with the support from the Robot Industry Core Technology Development Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE). (Task title: Development of Mobile Intelligence SW for Autonomous Navigation of Legged Robots in Dynamic and Atypical Environments for Real Application) < Figure 1. Overview of DreamWaQ, a controller developed by this research team. This network consists of an estimator network that learns implicit and explicit estimates together, a policy network that acts as a controller, and a value network that provides guides to the policies during training. When implemented in a real robot, only the estimator and policy network are used. Both networks run in less than 1 ms on the robot's on-board computer. > < Figure 2. Since the estimator can implicitly estimate the ground information as the foot touches the surface, it is possible to adapt quickly to rapidly changing ground conditions. > < Figure 3. Results showing that even a small walking robot was able to overcome steps with height differences of about 20cm. >
KAIST gearing up to train physician-scientists and BT Professionals joining hands with Boston-based organizations
KAIST (President Kwang Hyung Lee) announced on the 29th that it has signed MOUs with Massachusetts General Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham health care system and a world-class research-oriented hospital, and Moderna, a biotechnology company that developed a COVID-19 vaccine at the Langham Hotel in Boston, MA, USA on the morning of April 28th (local time). The signing ceremony was attended by officials from each institution joined by others headed by Minister LEE Young of the Korean Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS), and Commissioner LEE Insil of the Korean Intellectual Property Office. < Photo 1. Photo from the Signing of MOU between KAIST-Harvard University Massachusetts General Hospital and KAIST-Moderna > Mass General is the first and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, and it is one of the most innovative hospitals in the world being the alma mater of more than 13 Nobel Prize winners and the home of the Mass General Research Institute, the world’s largest hospital-based research program that utilizes an annual research budget of more than $1.3 billion. KAIST signed a general agreement to explore research and academic exchange with Mass General in September of last year and this MOU is a part of its follow-ups. Mass General works with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as local hospitals, to support students learn the theories of medicine and engineering, and gain rich clinical research experience. Through this MOU, KAIST will explore cooperation with an innovative ecosystem created through the convergence of medicine and engineering. In particular, KAIST’s goal is to develop a Korean-style training program and implement a differentiated educational program when establishing the science and technology-oriented medical school in the future by further strengthening the science and engineering part of the training including a curriculum on artificial intelligence (AI) and the likes there of. Also, in order to foster innovative physician-scientists, KAIST plans to pursue cooperation to develop programs for exchange of academic and human resources including programs for student and research exchanges and a program for students of the science and technology-oriented medical school at KAIST to have a chance to take part in practical training at Mass General. David F.M. Brown, MD, Mass General President, said, “The collaboration with KAIST has a wide range of potentials, including advice on training of physician-scientists, academic and human resource exchanges, and vitalization of joint research by faculty from both institutions. Through this agreement, we will be able to actively contribute to global cooperation and achieve mutual goals.” Meanwhile, an MOU between KAIST and Moderna was also held on the same day. Its main focus is to foster medical experts in cooperation with KAIST Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering (GSMSE), and plans to cooperate in various ways in the future, including collaborating for development of vaccine and new drugs, virus research, joint mRNA research, and facilitation of technology commercialization. In over 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA) to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities. The Company has 48 programs in development across 45 development candidates, of which 38 are currently in active clinical trials. “We are grateful to have laid a foundation for collaboration to foster industry experts with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, a leader of science and technology innovation in Korea,” said Arpa Garay, Chief Commercial Officer, Moderna. “Based on our leadership and expertise in developing innovative mRNA vaccines and therapeutics, we hope to contribute to educating and collaborating with professionals in the bio-health field of Korea.“ President Kwang Hyung Lee of KAIST, said, “We deem this occasion to be of grave significance to be able to work closely with Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the world's best research-oriented hospitals, and Moderna, one of the most influential biomedical companies.” President Lee continued, "On the basis of the collaboration with the two institutions, we will be able to bring up qualified physician-scientists and global leaders of the biomedical business who will solve problems of human health and their progress will in turn, accelerate the national R&D efforts in general and diversify the industry."
KAIST Team Develops Highly-Sensitive Wearable Piezoelectric Blood Pressure Sensor for Continuous Health Monitoring
- A collaborative research team led by KAIST Professor Keon Jae Lee verifies the accuracy of the highly-sensitive sensor through clinical trials - Commercialization of the watch and patch-type sensor is in progress A KAIST research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the College of Medicine of the Catholic University of Korea has developed a highly sensitive, wearable piezoelectric blood pressure sensor. Blood pressure is a critical indicator for assessing general health and predicting stroke or heart failure. In particular, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of global death, therefore, periodic measurement of blood pressure is crucial for personal healthcare. Recently, there has been a growing interest in healthcare devices for continuous blood pressure monitoring. Although smart watches using LED-based photoplethysmography (PPG) technology have been on market, these devices have been limited by the accuracy constraints of optical sensors, making it hard to meet the international standards of automatic sphygmomanometers. Professor Lee’s team has developed the wearable piezoelectric blood pressure sensor by transferring a highly sensitive, inorganic piezoelectric membrane from bulk sapphire substrates to flexible substrates. Ultrathin piezoelectric sensors with a thickness of several micrometers (one hundredth of the human hair) exhibit conformal contact with the skin to successfully collect accurate blood pressure from the subtle pulsation of the blood vessels. Clinical trial at the St. Mary’s Hospital of the Catholic University validated the accuracy of blood pressure sensor at par with international standard with errors within ±5 mmHg and a standard deviation under 8 mmHg for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In addition, the research team successfully embedded the sensor on a watch-type product to enable continuous monitoring of blood pressure. Prof. Keon Jae Lee said, “Major target of our healthcare devices is hypertensive patients for their daily medical check-up. We plan to develop a comfortable patch-type sensor to monitor blood pressure during sleep and have a start-up company commercialize these watch and patch-type products soon.” This result titled “Clinical validation of wearable piezoelectric blood pressure sensor for health monitoring” was published in the online issue of Advanced Materials on March 24th, 2023. (DOI: 10.1002/adma.202301627) Figure 1. Schematic illustration of the overall concept for a wearable piezoelectric blood pressure sensor (WPBPS). Figure 2. Wearable piezoelectric blood pressure sensor (WPBPS) mounted on a watch (a) Schematic design of the WPBPS-embedded wristwatch. (b) Block diagram of the wireless communication circuit, which filters, amplifies, and transmits wireless data to portable devices. (c) Pulse waveforms transmitted from the wristwatch to the portable device by the wireless communication circuit. The inset shows a photograph of monitoring a user’s beat-to-beat pulses and their corresponding BP values in real time using the developed WPBPS-mounted wristwatch.
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