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GSI Forum Highlights Global Collaboration Toward a Sustainable Global Economy
The forum stresses global collaboration to make the global value chain more resilient Speakers at the 5th Global Strategy Institute International Forum on October 28 stressed the importance of global collaboration for rebuilding the global economy and making innovations in national science and technology governance in order to enhance national competitiveness. The forum entitled “Grand Strategic Shift under Global Techno-Geopolitical Paradigm” examined strategies for making the global supply chain more resilient and rebuild the global economy as well as how Korea could advance in the technology race. Speakers concurred that technology has become an issue of national security. The global supply chain has been disrupted amid the global pandemic and intense conflict between the U.S. and China. Speakers presented a common solution: global collaboration and innovations in science and technology governance. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee said in his opening remarks that the future ‘world map’ may turn out very differently depending on how we prepare and what we envision for the future. He also stressed the importance of technology sovereignty, adding that only those who can create their own new technology independently will be the future leaders. Prime Minister Boo Kyum Kim and Vice Minister of Science and ICT Hongtaek Yong delivered congratulatory remarks. Keynote speakers included Professor Scott Stern from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor Aaron Chatterji from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Professor Sarah Kreps from the Department of Government at Cornell University, SK Group Chairperson Tae-Won Chey, President Woo Il Lee of the Korean Federation of Science and Technology Societies, Professor Young Kwan Yoon at Seoul National University, President Eun Mee Kim of Ewha Womans University, and President Ieehwan Kim of the University of Science and Technology. During the first session, Professor Chatterji stressed that how to make supply chains resilience will be the key for making long-term strategy with relevant government policy. He said that AI has become a general purpose technology (GPT) and Korea ranked 4th in AI innovation in the world, but how to translate this innovativeness into national strategic leadership will be a new challenge for Korea. He suggested that Korea strengthen its strategic partnerships with allies such as the U.S. and provide opportunities not only for established players but start-ups and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Professor Kreps said that industrial policy should also leverage trust and innovations for building technology alliances with a more longer-term approach, without antagonizing certain groups of nations. Vice President for Planning and Budget Bowon Kim who joined the forum as a discussant pointed out that in this hyper-connected era, nothing can be manufactured in a single company and country without the global supply chain. “In longer-term policy and strategies, we should embrace China as a global economy partner and include all nations around the world.” Chairman Chey from SK said that the clear role among universities, industry, and the government doesn’t exist any longer. Now, universities are working hard for the commercialization of technology from their labs. Industry is nurturing the talents inept for future industry, and the government is trying to introduce a more private-sector approach. As such, universities, the government, and industry should embrace all-inclusive approaches encompassing global politics and trade to lead on the global stage. Meanwhile in the second session, all of the speakers stressed innovation in science and technology governance in order to adopt to the new industrial paradigm. They agreed to make prompt innovations and solid collaborative systems among the government ministries to ensure national competitiveness, especially in the field of science and technology. President Lee from KOFST said Korea should adopt a first mover strategy and the government should adopt a mission-oriented projects and deregulate more. He pointed out that when mandating more autonomy in decision making, scientists and students can make more creative outcomes. Professor Yoon at SNU stressed the close alliance with the U.S. in the technology race, but suggested that Korea should also seek ways to help minimize the technology gap between advanced and developing countries. Universities should also be allowed more autonomy in running creative curriculum and academic affairs to in order boost the competitiveness of science and technology. President Kim from Ewha pointed out the role of education as a public good. In some countries, strengthening science and technology can be accomplished with wider educational opportunities in middle and high schools. President Kim also stressed expanding strategic partnerships. She said Korea should expand its alliances and partnerships, not only with the U.S. but with European countries and other niche countries where certain technologies are superior. President Kim of UST stressed a new science and technology leadership is required to build technology sovereignty and the government should spearhead the deregulations of the government policy. This GSI forum was co-hosted by two think-tanks at KAIST, the Korea Policy Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (KPC4IR) and the Innovation Strategy and Policy Institute (ISPI).
MCM Utilized at Residential Treatment Center in Gyeonggi
The Mobile Clinic Module (MCM) developed by the KAIST Action for Respiratory Epidemics was installed at special residential treatment center in Gyeonggi Province on September 13. The MCM is an isolate negative pressure unit fitted with high-quality medical equipment, developed by Professor Taek-Jin Nam of the Department of Industrial Design under the KAIST New Deal R&D Initiative. This is also a part of the Korean Disease Control Package Development Project from last July. In January, a ward with four beds for critical care was installed at the Korea Institute for Radiological & Medical Sciences in Seoul for a trial operation, and two mild cases were treated there. It was also implemented as an isolated negative pressure unit in the Daejeon Konyang University Hospital emergency room in June, and has treated 138 cases since. The special residential treatment center installed in the Gyeonggi Provincial Academy gymnasium, which consists of 28 beds in 14 rooms (double occupancy) and a multipurpose room (for X-rays and treatment), is to remain open through October 10. Unlike existing treatment centers that have quarantined COVID-19 patients for two weeks, the Gyeonggi MCM will act as a self-treatment-associated short-term treatment center. While in self-treatment, patients showing symptoms requiring special attention will be moved to the MCM, followed by short-term hospitalization of 1-3 days for observation before further measures are taken. Patients can be treated using the MCM’s own treatment capacities, including in-person and oxygen treatment, X-rays, and IVs. There are individual bathrooms in each room, and the pressure, ventilation, and the automatic opening and closing of the entrance can be centrally monitored and controlled. Patients showing symptoms during treatment will be moved to a specially designated hospital for critical care, and will return to the self-treatment center if no further abnormalities are reported. The Gyeonggi Provincial Medical Center’s Ansung Hospital will take charge of operating the special treatment center. Each day, one or two doctors, three nurses, two nursing assistants, one administrative staff member, two or three disinfection specialists, and a medical imaging engineer will work in three shifts. There will also be about 20 additional specially designated staff members including KAIST researchers, firefighters, and police officers. The MCM was internationally recognized as an excellent medical facility not only for its functionality, economic feasibility, and utility, but also for its unique design and aesthetics. It received two Best of Best awards at the Red Dot Award in product design and Communication Design in user interface. By running this special treatment center, KAIST will conduct research on how to build an optimized model for efficient negative pressure medical units. This research is expected to lead to advances in waste water treatment systems, mobile bathrooms optimized for infectious cases, and MCM user interfaces for electronic devices, etc. Professor Taek-Jin Nam, the general director of the project and design, said “if there is a gymnasium available, we can convert it into a special treatment center fitted with a waste water treatment system, and pressure equipment in two weeks even without additional infrastructure.” The head of the KAIST New Deal R&D Initiative Choongsik Bae said, “our MCM research started in July of last year, and in just over a year, it has become a successful and innovative case that has undergone trials and become commercialized in a short period of time.” He added, “In response to COVID-19, KAIST is conducting research and empirical studies, not just in relation to the MCM, but in other areas of disease control as well.” Based on the excellent disease control technologies developed by KAIST research teams, the KAIST Action for Respiratory Epidemics is conducting technology transfers and industrialization, and is developing a Korean disease control package model
Recipe for Success: Reputations Start from Inner Circles
A study on social network data of EDM DJs finds the relationship between social standing and identity building If you would like to succeed in your career, carve out your own distinctiveness, then break your boundaries along with collaborators. This sounds very common. However, a study on social networks has proven that is the recipe for success. A recent research on electric dance music DJs’ music identity and their reputation found that music DJs with a distinct genre identity as well as network positions combining brokerage and cohesion tend to place higher in terms of their social standing. What do Calvin Harris, the star of Electro house, Diplo, the icon of Moombahton & Trap, Sebastian Ingrosso, the master of Progressive House, and Armin Van Buuren, the leader of Trance have in common? One commonality of these star DJs in the electronic music market is that they are the leaders who build their genres with solid musical identities and are artists who constantly try experimental and innovative connections with other genres. Professor Wonjae Lee and Dr. Hyeongseok Wi from the Graduate School of Culture and Technology analyzed the playlist data performed by electronic dance music (EDM) DJs at several EDM festivals that were popular around the world before COVID-19 and the track data that they released during that period. “This study investigates how social standing is attained within a professional group of artists whose members play a key role in evaluating their artistic products in the EDM market,” said Professor Lee. Particularly, the team considered DJs' social standing as an effective means of ensuring the quality of their artwork in emerging music markets such as EDM and identified two important factors, the musical identity and the social position within the professional DJ’s group. They analyzed the data from 3,164 playlists of 815 DJs who performed at nine festivals held from 2013 to 2016 as a sort of citation network among DJs, and transformed it into network data to measure social positions among the DJs. They considered the DJs who received a lot of citations from other DJs as having a high social standing. In addition, the genre, beats per minute (BPM), and key scale data of the songs released during the period were quantified to analyze the association with the musical identity. First, the results of analysis of the released track data demonstrated that focused distinct musical identity is correlated with social standing among EDM DJs. The EDM market is an emerging specialist market that is constantly developing and differentiating new styles and genres. It includes artists who establish value criteria and demarcate categorical space into separate identity positions reflecting the artistic forms of a similar type. Second, this study focuses on the two advantages of two types of social positioning, brokerage and cohesive, which can effectively reduce uncertainty in the market. The results show that DJs with a hybrid position, combining elements of both brokerage and cohesion, have higher social standing. This hybrid position is the most advantageous position for controlling new opportunities and inflows of resources and for utilizing them. Unlike existing studies that divide the merits of the two positions into a dichotomy, this study follows the practice of recent studies that show that the two positions can generate synergy in a complementary manner. The remix culture prominent in EDM provides a convincing explanation for this phenomenon. Because constructing playlist sets represents a DJ’s main specialty, the ability to creatively combine a variety of tracks using one’s own artistic style is crucial. To showcase their remix skills, DJs skillfully select tracks to maximize the displays of their talent. Recognized DJs prefer to select tracks from other genres, borrowing from existing contexts and creating new reinterpretations while drawing upon their own musical backgrounds. “Acquiring social acknowledgement within a professional group is an effective way to ensure the quality of products they produce and a strong reputation,” explained Professor Lee. The research team also pointed out the unique case of Techno DJs, who are showing Galápagos syndrome by avoiding crossover between genres and sticking to their own musical identity, unlike most genres in EDM. This research was reported in PLos ONE on Aug. 25 and funded by KAIST and the BK21 Plus Postgraduate Organization for Content Science. -ProfileProfessor Wonjae LeeGraduate School of Culture TechnologyKAIST -PublicationHyeongseok Wi, Wonjae Lee “Stars inside have reached outside: The effects of electronic dance music DJ’s social standing and musical identity on track success,” Aug.25, 2021 PLosONE (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254618)
Digital Big Bang, Metaverse Technologies
The GSI Forum 2021 will explore the potential of new metaverse technologies that will change our daily lives KAIST will be hosting a live online international forum on Sept.8 at 9 am (KST) through its KAIST YouTube channel. The forum will explore global trends regarding metaverse technology innovations and applications and discuss how we can build a new technology ecosystem. Titled `Digital Big Bang, Metaverse Technology,' the Global Strategy Institute-International Forum 2021 will be the fourth event of its kind, following the three international forums held in 2020. The forum will delve into the development trends of metaverse platforms and AR/VR technologies and gather experts to discuss how such technologies could transform multiple aspects of our future, including education. President Kwang Hyung Lee explains in his opening remarks that new technologies are truly opening a new horizon for our lives, saying, “In the education sector, digital technology will also create new opportunities to resolve the longstanding pedagogical shortfalls of one-way knowledge delivery systems. New digital technologies will help to unlock the creativity of our students. Education tailored to the students’ individual levels will not only help them accumulate knowledge but improve their ability to use it. Universities around the world are now at the same starting line. We should carve out our own distinct metaverse that is viable for human interactions and diverse technological experiences that promote students’ creativity and collaborative minds.” Minster of Science and ICT Hyesook Lim will introduce how the Korean government is working to develop metaverse industries as a new potential engine of growth for the future in her welcoming remarks. The government’s efforts include collaborations with the private sector, investments in R&D, the development of talent, and regulatory reforms. Minister Lim will also emphasize the importance of national-level discussions regarding the establishment of a metaverse ecosystem and long-term value creation. The organizers have invited global experts to share their knowledge and insights. Kidong Bae, who is in charge of the KT Enterprise Project and ‘Metaverse One Team’ will talk about the current trends in the metaverse market and their implications, as well as KT’s XR technology references. He will also introduce strategies to establish and utilize a metaverse ecosystem, and highlight their new technologies as a global leader in 5G networks. Jinha Lee, co-founder and CPO of the American AR solution company Spatial, will showcase a remote collaboration office that utilizes AR technology as a potential solution for collaborative activities in the post-COVID-19 era, where remote working is the ‘new normal.’ Furthermore, Lee will discuss how future workplaces that are not limited by space or distance will affect our values and creativity. Professor Frank Steinicke from the University of Hamburg will present the ideal form of next-generation immersive technology that combines intelligent virtual agents, mixed reality, and IoT, and discuss his predictions for how the future of metaverse technology will be affected. Marco Tempest, a creative technologist at NASA and a Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, will also be joining the forum as a plenary speaker. Tempest will discuss the potential of immersive technology in media, marketing, and entertainment, and will propose a future direction for immersive technology to enable the sharing of experiences, emotions, and knowledge. Other speakers include Beomjoo Kim from Unity Technologies Korea, Professor Woontaek Woo from the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST, Vice President of Global Sales at Labster Joseph Ferraro, and CEO of 3DBear Jussi Kajala. They will make presentations on metaverse technology applications for future education. The keynote session will also have an online panel consisting of 50 domestic and overseas metaverse specialists, scientists, and teachers. The forum will hold a Q&A and discussion session where the panel members can ask questions to the keynote speakers regarding the prospects of metaverse and immersive technologies for education. GSI Director Hoon Sohn stated, "KAIST will seize new opportunities that will arise in a future centered around metaverse technology and will be at the forefront to take advantage of the growing demand for innovative science and technology in non-contact societies. KAIST will also play a pivotal role in facilitating global cooperation, which will be vital to establish a metaverse ecosystem.”
A Mechanism Underlying Most Common Cause of Epileptic Seizures Revealed
An interdisciplinary study shows that neurons carrying somatic mutations in MTOR can lead to focal epileptogenesis via non-cell-autonomous hyperexcitability of nearby nonmutated neurons During fetal development, cells should migrate to the outer edge of the brain to form critical connections for information transfer and regulation in the body. When even a few cells fail to move to the correct location, the neurons become disorganized and this results in focal cortical dysplasia. This condition is the most common cause of seizures that cannot be controlled with medication in children and the second most common cause in adults. Now, an interdisciplinary team studying neurogenetics, neural networks, and neurophysiology at KAIST has revealed how dysfunctions in even a small percentage of cells can cause disorder across the entire brain. They published their results on June 28 in Annals of Neurology. The work builds on a previous finding, also by a KAIST scientists, who found that focal cortical dysplasia was caused by mutations in the cells involved in mTOR, a pathway that regulates signaling between neurons in the brain. “Only 1 to 2% of neurons carrying mutations in the mTOR signaling pathway that regulates cell signaling in the brain have been found to include seizures in animal models of focal cortical dysplasia,” said Professor Jong-Woo Sohn from the Department of Biological Sciences. “The main challenge of this study was to explain how nearby non-mutated neurons are hyperexcitable.” Initially, the researchers hypothesized that the mutated cells affected the number of excitatory and inhibitory synapses in all neurons, mutated or not. These neural gates can trigger or halt activity, respectively, in other neurons. Seizures are a result of extreme activity, called hyperexcitability. If the mutated cells upend the balance and result in more excitatory cells, the researchers thought, it made sense that the cells would be more susceptible to hyperexcitability and, as a result, seizures. “Contrary to our expectations, the synaptic input balance was not changed in either the mutated or non-mutated neurons,” said Professor Jeong Ho Lee from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering. “We turned our attention to a protein overproduced by mutated neurons.” The protein is adenosine kinase, which lowers the concentration of adenosine. This naturally occurring compound is an anticonvulsant and works to relax vessels. In mice engineered to have focal cortical dysplasia, the researchers injected adenosine to replace the levels lowered by the protein. It worked and the neurons became less excitable. “We demonstrated that augmentation of adenosine signaling could attenuate the excitability of non-mutated neurons,” said Professor Se-Bum Paik from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering. The effect on the non-mutated neurons was the surprising part, according to Paik. “The seizure-triggering hyperexcitability originated not in the mutation-carrying neurons, but instead in the nearby non-mutated neurons,” he said. The mutated neurons excreted more adenosine kinase, reducing the adenosine levels in the local environment of all the cells. With less adenosine, the non-mutated neurons became hyperexcitable, leading to seizures. “While we need further investigate into the relationship between the concentration of adenosine and the increased excitation of nearby neurons, our results support the medical use of drugs to activate adenosine signaling as a possible treatment pathway for focal cortical dysplasia,” Professor Lee said. The Suh Kyungbae Foundation, the Korea Health Technology Research and Development Project, the Ministry of Health & Welfare, and the National Research Foundation in Korea funded this work. -Publication:Koh, H.Y., Jang, J., Ju, S.H., Kim, R., Cho, G.-B., Kim, D.S., Sohn, J.-W., Paik, S.-B. and Lee, J.H. (2021), ‘Non–Cell Autonomous Epileptogenesis in Focal Cortical Dysplasia’ Annals of Neurology, 90: 285 299. (https://doi.org/10.1002/ana.26149) -ProfileProfessor Jeong Ho Lee Translational Neurogenetics Labhttps://tnl.kaist.ac.kr/ Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering KAIST Professor Se-Bum Paik Visual System and Neural Network Laboratory http://vs.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Bio and Brain EngineeringKAIST Professor Jong-Woo Sohn Laboratory for Neurophysiology, https://sites.google.com/site/sohnlab2014/home Department of Biological SciencesKAIST Dr. Hyun Yong Koh Translational Neurogenetics LabGraduate School of Medical Science and EngineeringKAIST Dr. Jaeson Jang Ph.D.Visual System and Neural Network LaboratoryDepartment of Bio and Brain Engineering KAIST Sang Hyeon Ju M.D.Laboratory for NeurophysiologyDepartment of Biological SciencesKAIST
Brain-Inspired Highly Scalable Neuromorphic Hardware Presented
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
Repurposed Drugs Present New Strategy for Treating COVID-19
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
Krafton Matches Alumni Donations to Raise 11 Billion KRW for SW Developers
Alumni donations from the School of Computing, including Baemin and Devsisters, continue to grow Alumni from the KAIST School of Computing who are current and former developers at the leading game company Krafton, established by KAIST alumna Byung-Gyu Chang, made an agreement to help raise 11 billion KRW during a ceremony on June 4. The funds raised in the matching grant will be used to nurture software developers. Krafton Chairman Chang donated 10 billion won last January. His donation inspired other alumni working at Krafton as well as its former developers. Eleven KAIST alumni raised 5.5 billion KRW in two months and discussed the matching grant idea with Chairman Chang. The Krafton matching grant ceremony was attended by President Kwang Hyung Lee, Provost and Executive Vice President Seung Seob Lee, Vice President for Research Sang Yup Lee, Head of the School of Computing Sukyoung Ryu, Krafton Chairman Byung-gyu Chang, and KAIST alumnus from Krafton Seung-woo Shin. Other alumni donors including Krafton CEO Changhan Kim joined the ceremony online. Krafton CEO Changhan Kim said, “Just as our alma mater played an important role in growing our company, we hope that our donation could help support good developers. This will not only help our company, but advance our industry.” KAIST and Krafton also signed a business agreement to foster competitive developers. Krafton said it plans to continue giving back to society through the matching grant program. Head of the School of Computing Sukyoung Ryu thanked Chairman Chang and alumni who took part in the fund raising, saying, “To take the lead in rapidly changing computer technology, we desperately need more top students, faculty members, and facilities. We need more resources and infrastructure for interdisciplinary research.” The School of Computing has seen significant growth recently. Its number of undergraduate students has increased from 450 in 2016 to more than 900 in 2021. With this donation, the school will expand its current buildings to provide diverse educational and mentoring programs in more spacious facilities. Seung-woo Shin (Class of ’92), who joined Krafton’s matching grant, said, “I have always been thankful for the people I met and what I learned at KAIST. I was moved by the idea of giving back to the school.” Seong-jung Ryu (Class of ’97) said, “This donation reminded me of the good times I had back then. I thought it was crucial that the department’s facilities be extended, so I naturally wanted to take part.” Alumni donations, especially from the School of Computing, have also continued to grow more recently. Woowa Brothers Corp. CEO Beom-Jun Kim, the developer of the meal delivery app ‘Baemin’ donated 100 million KRW in April. Baemin became the most used app in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained, “I have been thinking about ways to give something to the next generation, rather than ‘paying back’ those who helped me in the past.” Encouraged by Baemin’s donation, alumni couple Ha-Yeon Seo and Dong-Hun Hahn from the School of Computing and eleven alumni engineers working at Devsisters Corp. also followed suit.
Ultrafast, on-Chip PCR Could Speed Up Diagnoses during Pandemics
A rapid point-of-care diagnostic plasmofluidic chip can deliver result in only 8 minutes Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has been the gold standard for diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the PCR portion of the test requires bulky, expensive machines and takes about an hour to complete, making it difficult to quickly diagnose someone at a testing site. Now, researchers at KAIST have developed a plasmofluidic chip that can perform PCR in only about 8 minutes, which could speed up diagnoses during current and future pandemics. The rapid diagnosis of COVID-19 and other highly contagious viral diseases is important for timely medical care, quarantining and contact tracing. Currently, RT-PCR uses enzymes to reverse transcribe tiny amounts of viral RNA to DNA, and then amplifies the DNA so that it can be detected by a fluorescent probe. It is the most sensitive and reliable diagnostic method. But because the PCR portion of the test requires 30-40 cycles of heating and cooling in special machines, it takes about an hour to perform, and samples must typically be sent away to a lab, meaning that a patient usually has to wait a day or two to receive their diagnosis. Professor Ki-Hun Jeong at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering and his colleagues wanted to develop a plasmofluidic PCR chip that could quickly heat and cool miniscule volumes of liquids, allowing accurate point-of-care diagnoses in a fraction of the time. The research was reported in ACS Nano on May 19. The researchers devised a postage stamp-sized polydimethylsiloxane chip with a microchamber array for the PCR reactions. When a drop of a sample is added to the chip, a vacuum pulls the liquid into the microchambers, which are positioned above glass nanopillars with gold nanoislands. Any microbubbles, which could interfere with the PCR reaction, diffuse out through an air-permeable wall. When a white LED is turned on beneath the chip, the gold nanoislands on the nanopillars quickly convert light to heat, and then rapidly cool when the light is switched off. The researchers tested the device on a piece of DNA containing a SARS-CoV-2 gene, accomplishing 40 heating and cooling cycles and fluorescence detection in only 5 minutes, with an additional 3 minutes for sample loading. The amplification efficiency was 91%, whereas a comparable conventional PCR process has an efficiency of 98%. With the reverse transcriptase step added prior to sample loading, the entire testing time with the new method could take 10-13 minutes, as opposed to about an hour for typical RT-PCR testing. The new device could provide many opportunities for rapid point-of-care diagnostics during a pandemic, the researchers say. -Publication Ultrafast and Real-Time Nanoplasmonic On-Chip Polymerase Chain Reaction for Rapid and Quantitative Molecular Diagnostics ACS Nano (https://doi.org/10.1021/acsnano.1c02154) -Professor Ki-Hun Jeong Biophotonics Laboratory https://biophotonics.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Bio and Brain Engineeinrg KAIST
Identification of How Chemotherapy Drug Works Could Deliver Personalized Cancer Treatment
The chemotherapy drug decitabine is commonly used to treat patients with blood cancers, but its response rate is somewhat low. Researchers have now identified why this is the case, opening the door to more personalized cancer therapies for those with these types of cancers, and perhaps further afield. Researchers have identified the genetic and molecular mechanisms within cells that make the chemotherapy drug decitabine—used to treat patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) —work for some patients but not others. The findings should assist clinicians in developing more patient-specific treatment strategies. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science on March 30. The chemotherapy drug decitabine, also known by its brand name Dacogen, works by modifying our DNA that in turn switches on genes that stop the cancer cells from growing and replicating. However, decitabine’s response rate is somewhat low (showing improvement in just 30-35% of patients), which leaves something of a mystery as to why it works well for some patients but not for others. To find out why this happens, researchers from the KAIST investigated the molecular mediators that are involved with regulating the effects of the drug. Decitabine works to activate the production of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which in turn induces an immune response. ERVs are viruses that long ago inserted dormant copies of themselves into the human genome. Decitabine in essence, ‘reactivates’ these viral elements and produces double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) that the immune system views as a foreign body. “However, the mechanisms involved in this process, in particular how production and transport of these ERV dsRNAs were regulated within the cell were understudied,” said corresponding author Yoosik Kim, professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. “So to explain why decitabine works in some patients but not others, we investigated what these molecular mechanisms were,” added Kim. To do so, the researchers used image-based RNA interference (RNAi) screening. This is a relatively new technique in which specific sequences within a genome are knocked out of action or “downregulated.” Large-scale screening, which can be performed in cultured cells or within live organisms, works to investigate the function of different genes. The KAIST researchers collaborated with the Institut Pasteur Korea to analyze the effect of downregulating genes that recognize ERV dsRNAs and could be involved in the cellular response to decitabine. From these initial screening results, they performed an even more detailed downregulation screening analysis. Through the screening, they were able to identify two particular gene sequences involved in the production of an RNA-binding protein called Staufen1 and the production of a strand of RNA that does not in turn produce any proteins called TINCR that play a key regulatory role in response to the drug. Staufen1 binds directly to dsRNAs and stabilizes them in concert with the TINCR. If a patient is not producing sufficient Staufen1 and TINCR, then the dsRNA viral mimics quickly degrade before the immune system can spot them. And, crucially for cancer therapy, this means that patients with lower expression (activation) of these sequences will show inferior response to decitabine. Indeed, the researchers confirmed that MDS/AML patients with low Staufen1 and TINCR expression did not benefit from decitabine therapy. “We can now isolate patients who will not benefit from the therapy and direct them to a different type of therapy,” said first author Yongsuk Ku. “This serves as an important step toward developing a patient-specific treatment cancer strategy.” As the researchers used patient samples taken from bone marrow, the next step will be to try to develop a testing method that can identify the problem from just blood samples, which are much easier to acquire from patients. The team plans to investigate if the analysis can be extended to patients with solid tumors in addition to those with blood cancers. -Profile Professor Yoosik Kim https://qcbio.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering KAIST -Publication Noncanonical immune response to the inhibition of DNA methylation by Staufen1 via stabilization of endogenous retrovirus RNAs, PNAS
KPC4IR Leads the Global Blockchain Standards Via Korea Innovation Studies
The Korea Policy Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (KPC4IR) at KAIST will play a leading role in the Global Standards Mapping Initiative (GSMI) 2.0 as the Chair of Working Group on South Korea at the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC). The GBBC, a Swiss-based non-profit consortium, established the GSMI to map blockchain technology ecosystem, established the GSMI to map blockchain and digital asset standards and regulation globally. The initial release of the GSMI mapped data and outputs from ons, 185 jurisdictions, nearly 400 industry groups, and over 30 technical standard-setting entities. The GSMI Working Group on South Korea is the only group that will investigate the country-level innovation of blockchain and digital asset alongside six Korean blockchain associations: The GSMI Working Group on South Korea is the only group that will investigate the country-level innovation of blockchain and digital asset alongside six Korean blockchain associations: the Korea Blockchain Association, the Korea Society of Blockchain, Blockchain & Law, the Open Blockchain and DID Association, the Korea Blockchain Startup Association, and the Korea Blockchain Industry Promotion Association. Individual members also joined from the Inter-American Development Bank, Blockchain Labs, and GOPAX. The GSMI Working Group on South Korea, chaired by KAIST, will leverage their experience in blockchain adoption to assist in setting global standards for the ecosystem. The Group will also highlight how South Korea can be a testbed for ITC adoption and open the door to a blockchain-ready world. GSMI 2.0 is spearheaded by nine working groups chaired by institutions, such as the World Economic Forum and the GBBC, Ernst & Young, HM Revenue and Customs, Accenture, and Hyperledger - Linux Foundation. Each of the Working Groups will be supported by sixteen fellows from eight fellow program partners. KAIST student Yujin Bang is the South Korea Working Group fellow. The GBBC and the WEF already published the first volume of the GSMI in October 2020 in collaboration with world-leading institutions, including KAIST, MIT Media Lab, and Accenture. Director of the KPC4IR Professor So Young Kim said, “The designation of KAIST is the result of continued collaborations with the WEF. The participation of this working group will help Korea’s global leadership with blockchain standards.”
Professor Byungha Shin Named Scientist of the Month
Professor Byungha Shin from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering won the Scientist of the Month Award presented by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) on May 4. Professor Shin was recognized for his research in the field of next-generation perovskite solar cells and received 10 million won in prize money. To achieve ‘carbon neutrality,’ which many countries across the globe including Korea hope to realize, the efficiency of converting renewable energies to electricity must be improved. Solar cells convert solar energy to electricity. Since single solar cells show lower efficiency, the development of ‘tandem solar cells’ that connect two or more cells together has been popular in recent years. However, although ‘perovskite’ received attention as a next-generation material for tandem solar cells, it is sensitive to the external environment including light and moisture, making it difficult to maintain stability. Professor Shin discovered that, theoretically, adding certain anion additives to perovskite solar cells would allow the control of the electrical and structural properties of the two-dimensional stabilization layer that forms inside the film. He confirmed this through high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. Controlling the amount of anions in the additives allowed the preservation of over 80% of the initial stability even after 1000 hours of continuous exposure to sunlight. Based on this discovery, Professor Shin combined silicon with solar cells to create a tandem solar cell with 26.7% energy convergence efficiency. Considering that the highest-efficiency tandem solar cell in existence showed 29.5% efficiency, this figure is quite high. Professor Shin’s perovskite solar cell is also combinable with the CIGS (Cu(In,Ga)Se2) thin-film solar cell composed of copper (Cu), indium (In), gallium (Ga), and selenium (Se2). Professor Shin’s research results were published in the online edition of the journal Science in April of last year. “This research is meaningful for having suggested a direction for solar cell material stabilization using additives,” said Professor Shin. “I look forward to this technique being applied to a wide range of photoelectrical devices including solar cells, LEDs, and photodetectors,” he added. (END)
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