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Top Ten Ways Biotechnology Could Improve Our Everyday Life
The Global Agenda Council on Biotechnology, one of the global networks under the World Economic Forum, which is composed of the world’s leading experts in the field of biotechnology, announced on February 25, 2013 that the council has indentified “ten most important biotechnologies” that could help meet rapidly growing demand for energy, food, nutrition, and health. These new technologies, the council said, also have the potential to increase productivity and create new jobs. “The technologies selected by the members of the Global Agenda Council on Biotechnology represent almost all types of biotechnology.Utilization of waste, personalized medicine,and ocean agricultureare examples of the challenges where biotechnology can offer solutions,”said Sang Yup Lee, Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Biotechnology and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He also added that “the members of the council concluded that regulatory certainty, public perception, and investment are the key enablers for the growth of biotechnology.” These ideas will be further explored during “Biotechnology Week” at the World Economic Forum’s Blog (http://wef.ch/blog) from Monday, 25 February, 2013. The full list follows below: Bio-based sustainable production of chemicals, energy, fuels and materials Through the last century, human activity has depleted approximately half of the world’s reserves of fossil hydrocarbons. These reserves, which took over 600 million years to accumulate, are non-renewable and their extraction, refining and use contribute significantly to human emissions of greenhouse gases and the warming of our planet. In order to sustain human development going forward, a carbon-neutral alternative must be implemented. The key promising technology is biological synthesis; that is, bio-based production of chemicals, fuels and materials from plants that can be re-grown. Engineering sustainable food production The continuing increase in our numbers and affluence are posing growing challenges to the ability of humanity to produce adequate food (as well as feed, and now fuel). Although controversial, modern genetic modification of crops has supported growth in agricultural productivity. In 2011, 16.7 million farmers grew biotechnology-developed crops on almost 400 million acres in 29 countries, 19 of which were developing countries. Properly managed, such crops have the potential to lower both pesticide use and tilling which erodes soil. Sea-water based bio-processes Over 70% of the earth surface is covered by seawater, and it is the most abundant water source available on the planet. But we are yet to discover the full potential of it. For example with halliophic bacteria capable of growing in the seawater can be engineered to grow faster and produce useful products including chemicals, fuels and polymeric materials. Ocean agriculture is also a promising technology. It is based on the photosynthetic biomass from the oceans, like macroalgae and microalgae. Non-resource draining zero waste bio-processing The sustainable goal of zero waste may become a reality with biotechnology. Waste streams can be processed at bio-refineries and turned into valuable chemicals and fuels, thereby closing the loop of production with no net waste. Advances in biotechnology are now allowing lower cost, less draining inputs to be used, including methane, and waste heat. These advances are simplifying waste streams with the potential to reduce toxicity as well as support their use in other processes, moving society progressively closer to the sustainable goal of zero waste. Using carbon dioxide as a raw material Biotechnology is poised to contribute solutions to mitigate the growing threat of rising CO2 levels. Recent advances are rapidly increasing our understanding of how living organisms consume and use CO2. By harnessing the power of these natural biological systems, scientists are engineering a new wave of approaches to convert waste CO2 and C1 molecules into energy, fuels, chemicals, and new materials. Regenerative medicine Regenerative medicine has become increasingly important due to both increased longevity and treatment of injury. Tissue engineering based on various bio-materials has been developed to speed up the regenerative medicine. Recently, stem cells, especially the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), have provided another great opportunity for regenerative medicine. Combination of tissue engineering and stem cell (including iPS) technologies will allow replacements of damaged or old human organs with functional ones in the near future. Rapid and precise development and manufacturing of medicine and vaccines A global pandemic remains one of the most real and serious threats to humanity. Biotechnology has the potential to rapidly identify biological threats, develop and manufacture potential cures. Leading edge biotechnology is now offering the potential to rapidly produce therapeutics and vaccines against virtually any target. These technologies, including messenger therapeutics, targeted immunotherapies, conjugated nanoparticles, and structure-based engineering, have already produced candidates with substantial potential to improve human health globally. Accurate, fast, cheap, and personalized diagnostics and prognostics Identification of better targets and combining nanotechnology and information technology it will be possible to develop rapid, accurate, personalized and inexpensive diagnostics and prognostics systems. Bio-tech improvements to soil and water Arable land and fresh water are two of the most important, yet limited, resources on earth. Abuse and mis-appropriation have threatened these resources, as the demand on them has increased. Advances in biotechnology have already yielded technologies that can restore the vitality and viability of these resources. A new generation of technologies: bio-remediation, bio-regeneration and bio-augmentation are being developed, offering the potential to not only further restore these resources, but also augment their potential. Advanced healthcare through genome sequencing It took more than 13 years and $1.5 billion to sequence the first human genome and today we can sequence a complete human genome in a single day for less than $1,000. When we analyze the roughly 3 billion base pairs in such a sequence we find that we differ from each other in several million of these base pairs. In the vast majority of cases these difference do not cause any issues but in rare cases they cause disease, or susceptibility to disease. Medical research and practice will increasingly be driven by our understanding of such genetic variations together with their phenotypic consequences.
Professor Hwang Kyu Young and Professor Yang Dong Yeol Receives Engineer of Korea Award
Emeritus Professor Hwang Kyu Young (Department of Computer Sciences) and Professor Yang Dong Yeol (Department of Mechanical Engineering) were named as the 2012 Engineer of Korea by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and Korea Science Foundation. The Engineer of Korea Award is awarded biannually to scientists and engineers that have contributed to the development of Korea’s science and technology and national economy. Professor Hwang’s work with DBMS and close coupling architecture of information search and overall new theories and application technology development in the field of database system has aided the opening and expansion of IT software industry development and the advent of internet information culture era. Professor Yang is a word renowned scholar in the field of net shape manufacturing and is considered to have opened a new page in the field of nano-molding technique. In addition, Professor Eum Sang Il (Department of Mathematical Science) has been selected as the 2012 Young Scientist Award.
KAIST Alumni Association Selects 'Proud Alums'
KAIST Alumni Association selected ‘Proud Alums’ who have contributed to the development of Korea and society and brought honor to KAIST. The Alums selected were: CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industry Lee Jae Seong, Vice President of SK Hynix Park Sang Hoon, President of Samsung Display Kim Ki Nam, Director of Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science Kang Dae Lim, and President of Dawonsys Park Sun Soon. Lee Jae Song (Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, M.S. 3rd) has led Hyundai Heavy Industries through innovation and had contributed in the development of Korea and oversaw the growth of Hyundai Heavy Industries to number 1 in Shipbuilding. Park Sang Hoon (Biological and Chemical Engineering, M.S. 5th) has led SK Hynix in the fields of energy, chemical and biological medicine and oversaw the development of world class R&D and production technologies to aid the development of Korea. Kim Ki Nam (Electrical and Electronic Engineering, M.S. 9th) has led the development of innovative semiconductor technologies thereby helping strengthening the competitiveness of Korean semiconductor industry. Kang Dae Lim (Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D. 1994 graduate) has helped in the development of Korean science and technology by leading the field of measurement standardization as Chairman of International Measurement Confederation and Chairman of Korea Association of Standards & Testing Organizations. Park Sun Soon (Electrical and Electronic Engineering, M.S. 12th) has succeeded in advancing the field of electronics by pioneering the field of creative technology.
KAIST Professors win 2012 Korea Engineering Award
Distinguished Professor Hwang Gyu Young (Department of Computer Science) and Professor Yang Dong Yol (Department of Mechanical Engineering) from KAIST received the 2012 ‘Korea Engineering Award’ hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Korea Research Foundation. The ‘Korea Engineering Award’ is given biennially to researchers who have accomplished world class research and have contributed greatly to Korea’s development in the field of Science and Technology. The award started in 1994 and a total of 24 recipients were recognized in various fields such as electronics, mechanics, chemistry, construction, etc. The recipients of the award areawarded the Presidential award as well as 50million won as prize money. Professor Hwang was recognized for his research on DBMS close-coupling architecture as well as other new data base system theories, contributing to the development of the IT software industry in Korea. Professor Yang was praised for his work in precision shape creation and manufacturing, especially for his work in the nano-stereolithography process. In addition, Professor Oum Sang-il from the Deparment of Mathematical Science received the 2012 ‘Young Scientist Award’ hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. The ceremony for ‘Korea Engineering Award’ and the ‘Young Scientist Award’ was held in Seoul Press Center Press Club on the 21st of December.
Systems biology demystifies the resistance mechanism of targeted cancer medication
Korean researchers have found the fundamental resistance mechanism of the MEK inhibitor, a recently highlighted chemotherapy method, laying the foundation for future research on overcoming cancer drug resistance and improving cancer survival rates. This research is meaningful because it was conducted through systems biology, a fusion of IT and biotechnology. The research was conducted by Professor Gwang hyun Cho’s team from the Department of Biology at KAIST and was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation of Korea. The research was published as the cover paper for the June edition of the Journal of Molecular Cell Biology (Title: The cross regulation between ERK and PI3K signaling pathways determines the tumoricidal efficacy of MEK inhibitor). Targeted anticancer medication targets certain molecules in the signaling pathway of the tumor cell and not only has fewer side effects than pre-existing anticancer medication, but also has high clinical efficacy. The technology also allows the creation of personalized medication and has been widely praised by scientists worldwide. However, resistances to the targeted medication have often been found before or during the clinical stage, eventually causing the medications to fail to reach the drug development stage. Moreover, even if the drug is effective, the survival rate is low and the redevelopment rate is high. An active pathway in most tumor cells is the ERK (Extracellular signal-regulated kinases) signaling pathway. This pathway is especially important in the development of skin cancer or thyroid cancer, which are developed by the mutation of the BRAF gene inside the path. In these cases, the MEK (Extracellular signal-regulated kinases) inhibitor is an effective treatment because it targets the pathway itself. However, the built-up resistance to the inhibitor commonly leads to the redevelopment of cancer. Professor Cho’s research team used large scale computer simulations to analyze the fundamental resistance mechanism of the MEK inhibitor and used molecular cell biological experiments as well as bio-imaging* techniques to verify the results. * Bio-imaging: Checking biological phenomena at the cellular and molecular levels using imagery The research team used different mutational variables, which revealed that the use of the MEK inhibitor reduced the transmission of the ERK signal but led to the activation of another signaling pathway (the PI3K signaling pathway), reducing the effectiveness of the medication. Professor Cho’s team also found that this response originated from the complex interaction between the signaling matter as well as the feedback network structure, suggesting that the mix of the MEK inhibitor with other drugs could improve the effects of the targeted anticancer medication. Professor Cho stated that this research was the first of its kind to examine the drug resistivity against the MEK inhibitor at the systematic dimension and showed how the effects of drugs on the signaling pathways of cells could be predicted using computer simulation. It also showed how basic research on signaling networks can be applied to clinical drug use, successfully suggesting a new research platform on overcoming resistance to targeting medication using its fundamental mechanism.
The hereditary factor of autism revealed
Korean researchers have successfully investigated the causes and hereditary factors for autistic behavior and proposed a new treatment method with fewer side effects. This research was jointly supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation as part of the Leading Researcher and Science Research Center Program The research findings were publishing in the June edition of Nature magazine and will also be introduced in the July edition of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, under the title ‘Autistic-like social behavior in Shank2-mutant mice improved by restoring NMDA receptor function’. The research team found that lack of Shank2 genes in mice, which are responsible for the production of synapse proteins, caused autistic-like behavior. The results strongly suggested that the Shank2 gene was linked to autistic behavior and that Shank2 deficiency induced autistic behaviors. Autism is a neural development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, repetitive behavior, mental retardation, anxiety and hyperactivity. Around 100 million people worldwide display symptoms of autistic behavior. Recent studies conducted by the University of Washington revealed that 1 out of 3 young adults who display autistic behavior do not fit into the workplace or get accepted to college, a much higher rate than any other disorder. However, an effective cure has not yet been developed and current treatments are limited to reducing repetitive behavior. The research team confirmed autistic-like social behavior in mice without the Shank2 genes and that the mice had decreased levels of neurotransmission in the NMDA receptor. The mice also showed damaged synaptic plasticity* in the hippocampus**. * Plasticity: ability of the connectionbetween two neurons to change in strength in response to transmission of information **Hippocampus: part of the brain responsible for short-term and long-term memory as well as spatial navigation. The research team also found out that, to restore the function of the NMDA receptor, the passive stimulation of certain receptors, such as the mGLuR5, yielded better treatment results than the direct stimulation of the NMDA. This greatly reduces the side effects associated with the direct stimulation of receptors, resulting in a more effective treatment method. This research successfully investigated the function of the Shank2 gene in the nerve tissue and showed how the reduced function of the NMDA receptor, due to the lack of the gene, resulted in autistic behavior. It also provided new possibilities for the treatment of autistic behavior and impaired social interaction
ICISTS-KAIST: Korea's Largest Scale University Student International Conference
An entirely student led and planned international conference will be held at KAIST. KAIST student club ICISTS will be holding the ‘ICISTS-KAIST 2012’ conference from the 6th of August till the 10th of August. This is the 8th annual conference which started in 2005 which is planned and executed entirely by undergraduate students. The conference aims at examining the rapidly changing relationship between science and technology and society and actively debate on the matter. The 1st conference involved only 150 students of which only a few from abroad. However last year’s conference involved 300 students from 22 nations from all over the world. The keyword of the conference in the much talked about ‘integration’ and therefore aims at establishing interdisciplinary networks that go beyond background and borders. Not only does ‘ICISTS-KAIST’ involves panel talks by speakers, but also offers small scale lectures simultaneously which allows participants to attend talks that suit their individual preferences. Group discussion session between participants and speakers will be held along with various performances and booths to introduce Korean traditional culture to international participants. The theme of this year’s conference is “Age of Integration: Beyond the Borders of Knowledge”. It is comprised of 3 smaller conferences with themes of Art and Science, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, and Science and Technology and Human Society. This year’s conference will host lectures by Professor S. Shyam Sundar of Pennsylvania State Communication University, Professor Bruce E. Seely Dean of Michigan School of Engineering, and Professor Shin Hui Seop who was named as the ‘1st National Scientist’ in 2005. Registration ends on the 15th of July and more information can be found at www.icists.org.
The output of terahertz waves enhanced by KAIST team
KAIST researchers have greatly improved the output of terahertz waves, the blue ocean of the optics world. This technology is expected to be applied to portable X-ray cameras, small bio-diagnostic systems, and in many other devices. Professor Ki-Hun Jeong"s research team from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering used optical nano-antenna technology to increase the output of terahertz waves by three times. Terahertz waves are electromagnetic waves with frequencies between 100GHz to 30THz. They are produced when a femtosecond (10^-15 s) pulse laser is shone on a semiconductor substrate with photoconduction antennas, causing a photocurrent pulse of one picosecond (10^-12 s). Their long wavelengths, in comparison to visible light and infrared rays, give terahertz waves a high penetration power with less energy than X-rays, making them less harmful to humans. These qualities allow us to see through objects, just as X-rays do, but because terahertz waves absorb certain frequencies, we can detect hidden explosives or drugs, which was not possible with X-rays. We can even identify fake drugs. Furthermore, using the spectral information, we can analyze a material"s innate qualities without chemical processing, making it possible to identify skin diseases without harming the body. However, the output was not sufficient to be used in biosensors and other applications. Prof. Jeong"s team added optical nano-antennas, made from gold nano-rods, in between the photoconduction antennas and optimized the structure. This resulted in nanoplasmonic resonance in the photoconduction substrate, increasing the degree of integration of the photocurrent pulse and resulting in a three times larger output. Hence, it is not only possible to see through objects more clearly, but it is also possible to analyze components without a biopsy. Professor Jeong explained, "This technology, coupled with the miniaturization of terahertz devices, can be applied to endoscopes to detect early epithelial cancer" and that he will focus on creating and commercializing these biosensor systems. This research was published in the March issue of the international nanotechnology journal ACS Nano and was funded by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technology and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Figure: Mimetic diagram of a THz generator with nano-antennas
10 Technolgies to Change the World in 2012: The Future Technology Global Agenda Council
The Future Technology Global Agenda Council which is under the World Economy Forum and which KAIST’s biochemical engineering department’s Prof. Sang Yeob Lee is the head of, chose the 10 new technologies that will change the world in year 2012. The ten technologies include: IT, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, Green Revolution 2.0, material construction nanotechnology, systematic biology and the simulation technology of biological systems, the technology to use CO2 as a natural resource, wireless power transmission technology, high density energy power system, personalized medical/nutritional/disease preventing system, and new education technology. The technologies were chosen on the basis of the opinions various science, industry, and government specialists and is deemed to have high potential to change the world in the near future. The Future Technology Global Agenda Council will choose ten new technologies yearly starting this year in order to solve the problems the world now faces. The informatics systems that was ranked 1st place, sifts only the data necessary for decision making out of the overflowing amount of data. Much interest has been spurred at the Davos forum. The synthetic biology and metabolic engineering chosen is expected to play an important role in creating new medicines and producing chemical substances and materials from reusable resources. Biomass has also been chosen as one of the top ten most important technologies as it was seen to be necessary to lead the second Green Revolution in order to stably provide food for the increasing population and to create bio refineries. Nanomaterials structured at the molecular level are expected to help us solve problems regarding energy, food, and resources. Systematic biology and computer modeling is gaining importance in availing humans to construct efficient remedies, materials, and processes while causing minimum effects on the environment, resource reserves, and other people. The technology to convert CO2, which is considered a problem all over the world, into a useful resource is also gaining the spotlight Together with such technologies, wireless power transmission technology, high density energy power system, personalized medical/nutritional/disease preventing system, and new education technology are also considered the top ten technologies to change the world. Prof. Lee said, “Many new discoveries are being made due to the accelerating rate of technological advancements. Many of the technologies that the council has found are sustainable and important for the construction of our future.”
Inexpensive Separation Method of Graphene Developed
The problem with commercializing graphene that is synthesized onto metals over a wide area is that it can not be separated from the metal. However, a groundbreaking separation technology which is both cheap and environment friendly has been developed. Prof. Taek soo Kim and Prof. Byung Jin Cho"s research teams have conducted this research under the support of the Global Frontier program and Researcher Support Program initiated by The Ministry of Education and Science and Korea Research Foundation. The research results have been posted on the online news flash of Nano Letters on februrary 29th. (Thesis title: Direct Measurement of Adhesion Energy of Monolayer Graphene As-Grown on Copper and Its Application to Renewable Transfer Process) The research has generated exact results on the interfacial adhesive energy of graphene and its surface material for the first time. Through this, the catalyst metal are no longer to be used just once, but will be used for an infinite number of times, thereby being ecofriendly and efficient. Wide area graphine synthesized onto the catalyst meatal are used in various ways such as for display and for solar cells. There has been much research going on in this field. However, in order to use this wide area graphene, the graphene must be removed from the catalyst metal without damage. Until now, the metal had been melted away through the use of chemical substances in order to separate the graphene. However, this method has been very problematic. The metal can not be reused, the costs are very high, much harmful wastes were created in the process of melting the metals, and the process was very complicated. The research teams of Professors Taek Su Kim and Byung Jin Cho measured the interfacial adhesive energy of the synthesized graphene and learned that it could be easily removed. Also, the mechanically removed graphene was successfully used in creating molecular electronic devices directly. This has thus innovatively shortened the graphene manufacturing process. Also, it has been confirmed that the metalic board can be reused multiple times after the graphene is removed. A new, ecofriendly and cost friendly method of graphene manufacturing has been paved. Through this discovery, it is expected that graphene will become easier to manufacture and that the period til the commercialization date of graphene will therefore be greatly reduced Prof. Cho stated " This reserach has much academical meaning significance in that it has successfully defined the surfacial adhesive energy between the graphene and its catalyst material and it should receive much attention in that it solved the largest technical problem involved in the production of graphene.
New Era for Measuring Ultra Fast Phenomena: Atto Science Era
Domestic researchers successfully measured the exact status of the rapidly changing Helium atom using an atto second pulse. Thanks to this discovery, many ultrafast phenomena in nature can now be precisely measured. This will lead to an opening of a new "Atto Science" era. Prof. Nam Chang Hee led this research team and Ph.d Kim Kyung Taek and Prof. Choi Nak Ryul also participated in this research. They have conducted the research under the support of the Researcher Support Program initiated by The Ministry of Education and Science and Korea Research Foundation. The research result was published in the prestigious journal "Physical Review Letters" on March 2nd. (Title: Amplitude and Phase Reconstruction of Electron Wave Packets for Probing Ultrafast Photoionization Dynamics) Prof. Nam Chang Hee"s research team used atto second pulse to measure the ultrafast photoionization. His team used atto second X-ray pulse and femto second laser pulse to photoionize Helium atoms, and measure the wave speed of the produced electron to closely investigate the ultrafast photoionization process. Atom"s photoionization measurement using an atto second pulse was possible using the research team"s high-energy femto second laser and high-performance photo ion measurement device. This research team succeeded in producing the shortest 60 atto second pulse in the world using high-harmonic waves. The research team used high-power femto second laser to produce atto second high-harmonic pulse from argon gas, used this to photoionize Helium atoms, and measured the ultrafast photoionization of the atoms. Prof. Nam Chang Hee said, "This research precisely measured the exact status of rapidly changing Helium atoms. I am planning to research on measuring the ultrafast phenomena inside atoms and molecules and controlling the status of the atoms and molecules based on the research result."
Distinguished Professor Sang-Yeop Lee gave keynote speech in '2011 China Bio-Refinery Summit'
Distinguished Professor Sang-Yeop Lee gave keynote speech in ‘2011 China Bio-Refinery Summit’ held in Chang’an, Beijing Professor Lee gave a lecture on the vitalization strategy of ‘Bio-Refinery’, which is ‘A bio-based chemical industry to replace fossil fuel-based petro chemistry. Professor Lee, insisted that for the successful construction of ‘Bio-Refinery’, there should be innovation in all value chain of biomass; biomass producer, bio-refinery business, consumer, government, etc. ▲Securement and distribution of Biomass ▲Development of strain and process for fermentation separation to effectively change biomass into chemical substance and fuel ▲Optimization of transportation and marketing. During this summit, high-ranking government officials in politics and economics, executives of multicultural and Chinese business participated. From Korea, Do-Young Seung of Manager of technology research of GS and Hang-Deok Roh of laboratory chief of SK Chemical participated as panelist. World Economy Forum, the gathering of leaders and experts in politics, economics, and policy created a ‘Global Agenda Council’ to find solutions on the issue of ‘sustainable growth of environment of the Earth and humanity’. Professor Lee is the chairperson of ‘Emerging Technologies Global Agenda Council (GAC)’ of Word Economy Forum. Professor Lee, founder of ‘Systems Metabolic Engineering’, has made remarkable achievements world-wide, including a technology that manipulates metabolic circuit of microorganisms to purify various crude-originated chemical substances into environmentally friendly substances. Currently, he is working on Systems biology research business in Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Global Frontier Biomass business, Global Frontier Intelligent Bio-system construction and composition, to make progress in metabolic engineering which is essential for the bio-chemical industry.
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