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Asia Pacific Biotech News' Special Coverage of Korean Biotechnology
The Asia Pacific Biotech News covered five major biotechnology research projects sponsored by the Korean government in the areas of biofuels, biomedicine, bio-nano healthcare, and biorefinery. The Asia Pacific Biotech News (APBN), a monthly magazine based in Singapore, which offers comprehensive reports on the fields of pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and biotechnology, recently published a special feature on Korea’s biotechnology research and development (R&D) programs. The magazine feature selected five research programs sponsored by the Korean government, which are either part of the Global Frontier or the Climate Change Technology Development Projects. The programs are: Systems Metabolic Engineering Research: Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has been leading a research group to develop biorefining technology using renewable non-food biomass to produce chemicals, fuels, and materials that were largely drawn from fossil resources through petrochemical refinery processes. Applying a systems metabolic engineering approach, the group succeeded in modifying the metabolic pathways of microorganisms. As a result, they produced, for the first time in the world, engineered plastic raw materials and gasoline. The team also developed a technique to produce butanol and succinic acid with a higher titer and yield using metabolically engineered microorganisms. Next-generation Biomass Research: Under the leadership of Professor Yong- Keun Chang of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at KAIST, the research project, which belongs to the Global Frontier Project, develops biofuels and bioproducts utilizing microalgae typically found in water and other marine systems. Convergence Research for Biomedicine: Professor Sung-Hoon Kim of Seoul National University leads this project that develops targeted new drugs based on convergence research strategies. Bionano Healthcare Chip Research: Director Bong-Hyun Chung of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology has integrated information and communications technology, nanotechnology, and biotechnology to develop a diagnostic kit that can screen toxic germs, virus, and toxic materials in a prompt and accurate manner. Biosynergy Research: Led by Professor Do-Hun Lee of the Bio and Brain Engineering Department at KAIST, this research project develops new treatments with a multi-target, multi-component approach in the context of systems biology through an analysis of synergistic reactions between multi-compounds in traditional East Asian medicine and human metabolites. In East Asian medicine, treatment and caring of the human body are considered analogous to the politics of governing a nation. Based on such system, the research focuses on designing a foundation for the integration of traditional medicine with modern drug discovery and development. Director Ilsub Baek at the Platform Technology Division of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea, who is responsible for the Global Frontier Program and the Technology to Solve Climate Change, said, “It is great to see that Asia Pacific Biotech News published an extensive coverage of Korea’s several key research programs on biotechnology as its first issue of this year. I am sure that these programs will lead to great outcomes to solve many worldwide pending issues including climate change and healthcare in the aging society.” Professor Sang Yup Lee, who served as an editor of the feature, said, “At the request of the magazine, we have already published lead articles on our biotechnology research three times in the past in 2002, 2006, and 2011. I am pleased to see continued coverage of Korean biotechnology by the magazine because it recognizes the excellence of our research. Biotechnology has emerged as one of the strong fields that addresses important global issues such as climate change and sustainability.”
IdeasLab Presents Biotechnology Solutions for Aging Populations at 2016 Davos Forum
KAIST researchers will discuss how biological sciences and health technologies can address challenges and opportunities posed by aging populations in an era of increasing longevity. Many countries around the world today are experiencing the rapid growth of aging populations, with a decline in fertility rate and longer life expectancy. At this year's Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (a.k.a. Davos Forum) on January 20-23, 2016 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, four researchers in the field of biological sciences and biotechnology at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) will discuss the implications of an aging population and explore possible solutions to provide better health care services to the elderly. KAIST will host an IdeasLab twice on the theme "Biotechnology Solutions for Ageing Populations" on January 21st and 23rd, respectively. Professor Byung-Kwan Cho of the Biological Sciences Department will give a presentation on "Rejuvenation via the Microbiome," explaining how microorganisms in the human gut play an important role in preventing aging, or even rejuvenating it. Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department will talk about "Traditional Medicine Reimagined through Modern Systems Biology." Professor Lee will introduce his research results published in Nature Biotechnology (March 6, 2015) and some more new results. He discovered the mechanisms of traditional oriental medicine's (TOM) efficacy by applying systems biology to study structural similarities between natural and nontoxic multi-compounds in the medicine and human metabolites. He will discuss TOM's multi-target approach, which is based on the synergistic combinations of multi-compounds to treat symptoms of a disease, can contribute to the development of new drugs, cosmetics, and nutrients. Professor Youn-Kyung Lim of the Industrial Design Department will speak about a mobile and the Internet of Things-based health care service called "Dr. M" in her presentation on "Advanced Mobile Healthcare Systems." Professor Daesoo Kim of the Biological Sciences Department will share his research on human's happiness and greed in the context of nueroscience and behavioral and biological sciences in a talk entitled "A Neural Switch for Being Happy with Less on a Crowded Planet." KAIST has hosted IdeasLabs several times at the Summer Davos Forum in China, but this is the first time it will participate in the Davos Forum in January. Professor Lee said, "Just like climate change, the issue of how to address aging populations has become a major global issue. We will share some exciting research results and hope to have in depth discussion on this issue with the leaders attending the Davos Forum. KAIST will engage actively in finding solutions that benefit not only Korea but also the international community."
Establishment of System Metabolic Engineering Strategies
Although conventional petrochemical processes have generated chemicals and materials which have been useful to mankind, they have also triggered a variety of environmental problems including climate change and relied too much on nonrenewable natural resources. To ameliorate this, researchers have actively pursued the development of industrial microbial strains around the globe in order to overproduce industrially useful chemicals and materials from microbes using renewable biomass. This discipline is called metabolic engineering. Thanks to advances in genetic engineering and our knowledge of cellular metabolism, conventional metabolic engineering efforts have succeeded to a certain extent in developing microbial strains that overproduce bioproducts at an industrial level. However, many metabolic engineering projects launched in academic labs do not reach commercial markets due to a failure to fully integrate industrial bioprocesses. In response to this, Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and Dr. Hyun Uk Kim, both from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST, have recently suggested ten general strategies of systems metabolic engineering to successfully develop industrial microbial strains. Systems metabolic engineering differs from conventional metabolic engineering by incorporating traditional metabolic engineering approaches along with tools of other fields, such as systems biology, synthetic biology, and molecular evolution. The ten strategies of systems metabolic engineering have been featured in Nature Biotechnology released online in October 2015, which is entitled "Systems strategies for developing industrial microbial strains." The strategies cover economic, state-of-the-art biological techniques and traditional bioprocess aspects. Specifically, they consist of: 1) project design including economic evaluation of a target bioproduct; 2) selection of host strains to be used for overproduction of a bioproduct; 3) metabolic pathway reconstruction for bioproducts that are not naturally produced in the selected host strains; 4) increasing tolerance of a host strain against the bioproduct; 5) removing negative regulatory circuits in the microbial host limiting overproduction of a bioproduct; 6) rerouting intracellular fluxes to optimize cofactor and precursor availability necessary for the bioproduct formation; 7) diagnosing and optimizing metabolic fluxes towards product formation; 8) diagnosis and optimization of microbial culture conditions including carbon sources; 9) system-wide gene manipulation to further increase the host strain's production performance using high-throughput genome-scale engineering and computational tools; and 10) scale-up fermentation of the developed strain and diagnosis for the reproducibility of the strain's production performance. These ten strategies were articulated with successful examples of the production of L-arginine using Corynebacterium glutamicum, 1,4-butanediol using Escherichia coli, and L-lysine and bio-nylon using C. glutamicum. Professor Sang Yup Lee said, "At the moment, the chance of commercializing microbial strains developed in academic labs is very low. The strategies of systems metabolic engineering outlined in this analysis can serve as guidelines when developing industrial microbial strains. We hope that these strategies contribute to improving opportunities to commercialize microbial strains developed in academic labs with drastically reduced costs and efforts, and that a large fraction of petroleum-based processes will be replaced with sustainable bioprocesses." Lee S. Y. & Kim, H. U. Systems Strategies for Developing Industrial Microbial Strains. Nature Biotechnology (2015). This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries (NRF-2012M1A2A2026556) and by the Intelligent Synthetic Biology Center through the Global Frontier Project (2011-0031963) from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), Korea, and through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea. This work was also supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Picture: Concept of the Systems Metabolic Engineering Framework (a) Three major bioprocess stages (b) Considerations in systems metabolic engineering to optimize the whole bioprocess. List of considerations for the strain development and fermentation contribute to improving microbial strain's production performance (red), whereas those for the separation and purification help in reducing overall operation costs by facilitating the downstream process (blue). Some of the considerations can be repeated in the course of systems metabolic engineering.
Professor Ki-Jun Jeong Wins the 2015 Dam Yeun Academic Award
The 11th Dam Yeun Academic Award presented by the Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (KSBB) to a biologist under 45 years old went to Professor Ki-Jun Jeong of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at KAIST. The award ceremony took place on October 13, 2015, at the annual conference of KSBB held at Songdo Convensia in Incheon City. Each year KSBB announces the recipient of the award based on the publications by researchers in the last five years at peer-reviewed international journals or KSBB Journal as well as the record of patent registration and technology transfers. Professor Jeong is recognized for his pioneering research in protein, antibody, cellular engineering, and protein displays and chips.
KAIST and Oberthur Technologies Agree for Research and Development in Mobile Security
Professor Kwangjo Kim of the School of Computing at KAIST has signed a research and development (R&D) agreement with Marc Bertin, the Chief Technology Officer of Oberthur Technologies (OT), a French security solutions firm, on September 18, 2015 in Paris. Under the agreement, KAIST and OT will conduct joint research on mobile security as well as implement an internship program for KAIST graduate students to work either at OT’s R&D center in Korea or in France. OT has established a research center in Korea in July 2014, which was the fourth of its research centers in Asia. Professor Kim said, “Our goal at KAIST is to cultivate top-level security experts in security technologies. By partnering with such a leader in security technologies as OT, we know that we will both help shape tomorrow’s security solution for the IoT (Internet of Things) space.” In the picture, Professor Kwangjo Kim (left) shakes hands with Marc Bertin, the Chief Technology Officer of Oberthur Technologies (right), after the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
Nature Biotechnology Nominates Sang Yup Lee of KAIST for Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2014
Nature Biotechnology, recognized as the most prestigious journal in the field of biotechnology, has released today its list of the Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2014. Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) ranked seventh in the list. He is the only Asian researcher listed. The journal, in partnership with IP Checkups, a patent analytics firm, presents an annual ranking of researchers based on their paper and patent output. The list includes, among others, each researcher’s most-cited patent in the past five years and their H index, a measurement to evaluate the impact of a researcher’s published work utilizing citation analysis. (More details can be found at http://www.nature.com/bioent/2015/150801/full/bioe.2015.9.html.) American institutions made up the majority of the list, with 18 universities and research institutes, and the remainder was filled by KAIST in Korea and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia. Globally known as a leading researcher in systems metabolic engineering, Professor Lee has published more than 500 journal papers and 580 patents. He has received many awards, including the Citation Classic Award, Elmer Gaden Award, Merck Metabolic Engineering Award, ACS Marvin Johnson Award, SIMB Charles Thom Award, POSCO TJ Park Prize, Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award, and the Ho Am Prize in Engineering.
Professor Sang-Yup Lee Receives the Order of Service Merit Red Stripes from the Korean Government
The government of the Republic of Korea named Professor Sang-Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering at KAIST as the fiftieth recipient of the Order of Service Merit Red Stripes on May 19, 2015. This medal is awarded to government employees, officials, and teachers in recognition of their contributions to public services including education. Professor Lee is regarded as a leading scientist in the field of metabolic engineering, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and bioinformatics on microorganism producing various primary and secondary metabolites. He contributed significantly to the advancement of bio-based engineering research in Korea. In addition, his research in microorganism metabolic engineering propelled him to the front of his field, making him the world’s founder of systems metabolic engineering, inventing numerous technologies in strain development. Professor Lee has received many patent rights in bioprocess engineering. While at KAIST, he applied for 585 patents and registered 227 patents. In particular, he has applied for 135 patents and registered 99 patents in the past five years, successfully turning research results into commercial applications. Professor Lee said, “I’m glad to contribute to the development of Korean science and technology as a researcher and teacher. I would like to share this honor with my students, master’s and doctoral students in particular, because without their support, it wouldn’t have been possible to pull off the highest level of research results recognized by this medal.”
KAIST Researchers Develops Hyper-Stretchable Elastic-Composite Energy Harvester
A research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee (http://fand.kaist.ac.kr) of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST has developed a hyper-stretchable elastic-composite energy harvesting device called a nanogenerator. Flexible electronics have come into the market and are enabling new technologies like flexible displays in mobile phone, wearable electronics, and the Internet of Things (IoTs). However, is the degree of flexibility enough for most applications? For many flexible devices, elasticity is a very important issue. For example, wearable/biomedical devices and electronic skins (e-skins) should stretch to conform to arbitrarily curved surfaces and moving body parts such as joints, diaphragms, and tendons. They must be able to withstand the repeated and prolonged mechanical stresses of stretching. In particular, the development of elastic energy devices is regarded as critical to establish power supplies in stretchable applications. Although several researchers have explored diverse stretchable electronics, due to the absence of the appropriate device structures and correspondingly electrodes, researchers have not developed ultra-stretchable and fully-reversible energy conversion devices properly. Recently, researchers from KAIST and Seoul National University (SNU) have collaborated and demonstrated a facile methodology to obtain a high-performance and hyper-stretchable elastic-composite generator (SEG) using very long silver nanowire-based stretchable electrodes. Their stretchable piezoelectric generator can harvest mechanical energy to produce high power output (~4 V) with large elasticity (~250%) and excellent durability (over 104 cycles). These noteworthy results were achieved by the non-destructive stress- relaxation ability of the unique electrodes as well as the good piezoelectricity of the device components. The new SEG can be applied to a wide-variety of wearable energy-harvesters to transduce biomechanical-stretching energy from the body (or machines) to electrical energy. Professor Lee said, “This exciting approach introduces an ultra-stretchable piezoelectric generator. It can open avenues for power supplies in universal wearable and biomedical applications as well as self-powered ultra-stretchable electronics.” This result was published online in the March issue of Advanced Materials, which is entitled “A Hyper-Stretchable Elastic-Composite Energy Harvester.” YouTube Link: “A hyper-stretchable energy harvester” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBByFvPVRiU&feature=youtu.be Figure: Top row: Schematics of hyper-stretchable elastic-composite generator enabled by very long silver nanowire-based stretchable electrodes. Bottom row: The SEG energy harvester stretched by human hands over 200% strain.
The Bio-Synergy Research Center, KAIST, Hosts an Annual Meeting
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea founded the Bio-Synergy Research Center (BSRC) at KAIST in 2013 to develop source technology and generate new knowledge by conducting convergence research projects in natural resources with information technology (IT) and biotechnology. The BSRC hosted an annual meeting on November 21, 2014, at the KAIST campus and reviewed the progress it made this year with the participation of President Steve Kang of KAIST, Commissioner Young-min Kim of KIPO, and Director Doheon Lee of BSRC. The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) provided BSRC with its database in Korean traditional medicine that includes a vast amount of information about disease symptoms, native medicinal herbs and plant extracts, prescriptions, and chemical compounds used for medication. The database, “Compound Combination-Oriented Natural Product Database with Unified Terminology (COCUNUT),” holds approximately one million data sets in four major categories: prescriptions, medicinal resources, medicine components and functions, and diseases. Based on COCUNUT, BSRC has been working on the standardization of Korean traditional medicine such as the development of data mapping and text mining technology and the analysis of big data in accordance with the said categories. Using IT and biotechnology, the center has also created a virtual human body to explain how traditional medicine works in human body, thereby contributing to the development of new natural materials for medicine.
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee Participates in the 2014 Summer Davos Forum
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, KAIST, was invited to lead four sessions at the Annual Meeting 2014, the World Economic Forum, also known as the Summer Davos Forum, which was held in Tianjin, China, from September 10th to 12th. Two of the four sessions Professor Lee participated in were held on September 10th. At the first session entitled “Biotechnology Ecosystem,” he examined with other panelists the future of bioengineering in depth and discussed major policies and industry trends that will be necessary for the development of future biotechnologies. Professor Lee later attended the “Strategic Shifts in Healthcare” session as a moderator. Issues related to transforming the health industry such as the next-generation genomics, mobile health and telemedicine, and wearable devices and predictive analytics were addressed. On September 12, Professor Lee joined the “IdeasLab with KAIST” and gave a presentation on nanotechnology. There was a total of ten IdeasLab sessions held at the Summer Davos Forum, and KAIST was the only Korean university ever invited to host this session. In addition to Professor Lee’s presentation, three more presentations were made by KAIST professors on such topics as “Sustainable Energy and Materials” and “Next-generation Semiconductors.” Lastly, Professor Lee participated in the “Global Promising Technology” session with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council members. At this session, he explained the selection of the “World’s Top 10 Most Promising Technologies” and “Bio Sector’s Top 10 Technologies” and led discussions about the “2015 Top 10 Technologies” with the council members. The Davos Forum has been announcing the “World’s Top 10 Most Promising Technologies” since 2012, and Professor Lee has played a key role in the selection while working as the Chairman of Global Agenda Council. The selection results are presented at the Davos Forum every year and have attracted a lot of attention from around the world.
Professor Ki Jun Jeong Selected As the Winner of the 'Young Asian Biotechnologist Prize'
Professor Ki Jun Jeong from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, KAIST, has been selected as the winner of this year’s Young Asian Biotechnologist Prize. Professor Jeong was invited to the 66th Japan Biotechnology and Bioengineering Society Conference scheduled in September 9th-11th, 2014, in Sapporo, Japan, where his award ceremony will be held. The award is presented to Professor Jeong in recognition of his outstanding research on microbial-based production of antibodies and efficiency improvement. The Young Asian Biotechnologist Prize is awarded annually by the Japan Biotechnology and Bioengineering Society to the researchers in Asia under the age of 45, who have achieved excellent research results in the field of bioengineering.
First International Conference on Science and Technology for Society
KAIST co-organized the 2013 International Conference on Science and Technology for Society which was held on November 28 at the Grace Hall in Seoul EL-Tower. More than 300 people, including members of the Global Social Technology Advisory Board, domestic social technology experts, private companies, government officials, private citizens, and students joined the conference to discuss the roles and responsibilities of science and technology for society. R&D policies and technologies for solving social issues were introduced, and discussions were held on desirable directions for technological development. The first speaker, Yasushi Watanabe, Director of RISTEX (Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society) in Japan, introduced the importance of science and technology for society under the title “Change of R&D Paradigm for Society.” Robert Wimmer, GrAT (Center for Appropriate Technology), Vienna University of Technology in Austria, presented “Need-oriented Design & Solutions for Development.” Kiyoaki Murakami, MRI, Japan, presented “Introduction of Platinum Vision” and Robert Ries, University of Florida, U.S.A., presented “Evaluating the Social Impacts of the Built Environment Using Life Cycle Assessment.” Case studies on social enterprises and presentations on R&D for solving social problems were introduced by ICISTS (International Conference for the Integration of Science, Technology and Society), which is a student group at KAIST, National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH), Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ETRI), and Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT).The conference was hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning and co-organized by NRF, KIMM, KRIBB, KITECH, ETRI and KRICT.
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