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Phage resistant Escherichia coli strains developed to reduce fermentation failure
A genome engineering-based systematic strategy for developing phage resistant Escherichia coli strains has been successfully developed through the collaborative efforts of a team led by Professor Sang Yup Lee, Professor Shi Chen, and Professor Lianrong Wang. This study by Xuan Zou et al. was published in Nature Communications in August 2022 and featured in Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights. The collaboration by the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wuhan University, the First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University, and the KAIST Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has made an important advance in the metabolic engineering and fermentation industry as it solves a big problem of phage infection causing fermentation failure. Systems metabolic engineering is a highly interdisciplinary field that has made the development of microbial cell factories to produce various bioproducts including chemicals, fuels, and materials possible in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, mitigating the impact of worldwide resource depletion and climate change. Escherichia coli is one of the most important chassis microbial strains, given its wide applications in the bio-based production of a diverse range of chemicals and materials. With the development of tools and strategies for systems metabolic engineering using E. coli, a highly optimized and well-characterized cell factory will play a crucial role in converting cheap and readily available raw materials into products of great economic and industrial value. However, the consistent problem of phage contamination in fermentation imposes a devastating impact on host cells and threatens the productivity of bacterial bioprocesses in biotechnology facilities, which can lead to widespread fermentation failure and immeasurable economic loss. Host-controlled defense systems can be developed into effective genetic engineering solutions to address bacteriophage contamination in industrial-scale fermentation; however, most of the resistance mechanisms only narrowly restrict phages and their effect on phage contamination will be limited. There have been attempts to develop diverse abilities/systems for environmental adaptation or antiviral defense. The team’s collaborative efforts developed a new type II single-stranded DNA phosphorothioation (Ssp) defense system derived from E. coli 3234/A, which can be used in multiple industrial E. coli strains (e.g., E. coli K-12, B and W) to provide broad protection against various types of dsDNA coliphages. Furthermore, they developed a systematic genome engineering strategy involving the simultaneous genomic integration of the Ssp defense module and mutations in components that are essential to the phage life cycle. This strategy can be used to transform E. coli hosts that are highly susceptible to phage attack into strains with powerful restriction effects on the tested bacteriophages. This endows hosts with strong resistance against a wide spectrum of phage infections without affecting bacterial growth and normal physiological function. More importantly, the resulting engineered phage-resistant strains maintained the capabilities of producing the desired chemicals and recombinant proteins even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge, which provides crucial protection against phage attacks. This is a major step forward, as it provides a systematic solution for engineering phage-resistant bacterial strains, especially industrial bioproduction strains, to protect cells from a wide range of bacteriophages. Considering the functionality of this engineering strategy with diverse E. coli strains, the strategy reported in this study can be widely extended to other bacterial species and industrial applications, which will be of great interest to researchers in academia and industry alike. Fig. A schematic model of the systematic strategy for engineering phage-sensitive industrial E. coli strains into strains with broad antiphage activities. Through the simultaneous genomic integration of a DNA phosphorothioation-based Ssp defense module and mutations of components essential for the phage life cycle, the engineered E. coli strains show strong resistance against diverse phages tested and maintain the capabilities of producing example recombinant proteins, even under high levels of phage cocktail challenge.
KAIST Research Team Proves How a Neurotransmitter may be the Key in Controlling Alzheimer’s Toxicity
With nearly 50 million dementia patients worldwide, and Alzheimers’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease. Its main symptom is the impairment of general cognitive abilities, including the ability to speak or to remember. The importance of finding a cure is widely understood with increasingly aging population and the life expectancy being ever-extended. However, even the cause of the grim disease is yet to be given a clear definition. A KAIST research team in the Department of Chemistry led by professor Mi Hee Lim took on a lead to discovered a new role for somatostatin, a protein-based neurotransmitter, in reducing the toxicity caused in the pathogenic mechanism taken towards development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study was published in the July issue of Nature Chemistry under the title, “Conformational and functional changes of the native neuropeptide somatostatin occur in the presence of copper and amyloid-β”. According to the amyloid hypothesis, the abnormal deposition of Aβ proteins causes death of neuronal cells. While Aβ agglomerations make up most of the aged plaques through fibrosis, in recent studies, high concentrations of transitional metal were found in the plaques from Alzheimer’s patients. This suggests a close interaction between metallic ions and Aβ, which accelerates the fibrosis of proteins. Copper in particular is a redox-activating transition metal that can produce large amounts of oxygen and cause serious oxidative stress on cell organelles. Aβ proteins and transition metals can closely interact with neurotransmitters at synapses, but the direct effects of such abnormalities on the structure and function of neurotransmitters are yet to be understood. Figure 1. Functional shift of somatostatin (SST) by factors in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease. Figure 2. Somatostatin’s loss-of-function as neurotransmitter. a. Schematic diagram of SST auto-aggregation due to Alzheimer's pathological factors. b. SST’s aggregation by copper ions. c. Coordination-prediction structure and N-terminal folding of copper-SST. d. Inhibition of SST receptor binding specificity by metals. In their research, Professor Lim’s team discovered that when somatostatin, the protein-based neurotransmitter, is met with copper, Aβ, and metal-Aβ complexes, self-aggregates and ceases to perform its innate function of transmitting neural signals, but begins to attenuate the toxicity and agglomeration of metal-Aβ complexes. Figure 3. Gain-of-function of somatostatin (SST) in the dementia setting. a. Prediction of docking of SST and amyloid beta. b. SST making metal-amyloid beta aggregates into an amorphous form. c. Cytotoxic mitigation effect of SST. d. SST mitigating the interaction between amyloid beta protein with the cell membrane. This research, by Dr. Jiyeon Han et al. from the KAIST Department of Chemistry, revealed the coordination structure between copper and somatostatin at a molecular level through which it suggested the agglomeration mechanism, and discovered the effects of somatostatin on Aβ agglomeration path depending on the presence or absence of metals. The team has further confirmed somatostatin’s receptor binding, interactions with cell membranes, and effects on cell toxicity for the first time to receive international attention. Professor Mi Hee Lim said, “This research has great significance in having discovered a new role of neurotransmitters in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” “We expect this research to contribute to defining the pathogenic network of neurodegenerative diseases caused by aging, and to the development of future biomarkers and medicine,” she added. This research was conducted jointly by Professor Seung-Hee Lee’s team of KAIST Department of Biological Sciences, Professor Kiyoung Park’s Team of KAIST Department of Chemistry, and Professor Yulong Li’s team of Peking University. The research was funded by Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea and KAIST. For more information about the research team, visit the website: https://sites.google.com/site/miheelimlab/1-professor-mi-hee-lim.
KAIST Partners with Korea National Sport University
KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee signed an MOU with Korea National Sport University (KNSU) President Yong-Kyu Ahn for collaboration in education and research in the fields of sports science and technology on April 5 at the KAIST main campus. The agreement also extends to student and credit exchanges between the two universities. With this signing, KAIST plans to develop programs in which KAIST students can participate in the diverse sports classes and activities offered at KNSU. Officials from KNSU said that this collaboration with KAIST will provide a new opportunity to recognize the importance of sports science more extensively. They added that KNSU will continue to foster more competitive sports talents who understand the convergence between sports science and technology. The two universities also plan to conduct research on body mechanics optimizing athletes’ best performance, analyze how the muscles of different events’ athletes move, and will propose creative new solutions utilizing robot rehabilitation and AR technologies. It is expected that the research will extend to the physical performance betterment of the general public, especially for aged groups and the development of training solutions for musculoskeletal injury prevention as Korean society deals with its growing aging population. President Lee said, “I look forward to the synergic impact when KAIST works together with the nation’s top sports university. We will make every effort to spearhead the wellbeing of the general public in our aging society as well as for growth of sports.” President Ahn said, “The close collaboration between KAIST and KNSU will revitalize the sports community that has been staggering due to the Covid-19 pandemic and will contribute to the advancement of sports science in Korea.”
Scientist Discover How Circadian Rhythm Can Be Both Strong and Flexible
Study reveals that master and slave oscillators function via different molecular mechanisms From tiny fruit flies to human beings, all animals on Earth maintain their daily rhythms based on their internal circadian clock. The circadian clock enables organisms to undergo rhythmic changes in behavior and physiology based on a 24-hour circadian cycle. For example, our own biological clock tells our brain to release melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone, at night time. The discovery of the molecular mechanism of the circadian clock was bestowed the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017. From what we know, no one centralized clock is responsible for our circadian cycles. Instead, it operates in a hierarchical network where there are “master pacemaker” and “slave oscillator”. The master pacemaker receives various input signals from the environment such as light. The master then drives the slave oscillator that regulates various outputs such as sleep, feeding, and metabolism. Despite the different roles of the pacemaker neurons, they are known to share common molecular mechanisms that are well conserved in all lifeforms. For example, interlocked systems of multiple transcriptional-translational feedback loops (TTFLs) composed of core clock proteins have been deeply studied in fruit flies. However, there is still much that we need to learn about our own biological clock. The hierarchically-organized nature of master and slave clock neurons leads to a prevailing belief that they share an identical molecular clockwork. At the same time, the different roles they serve in regulating bodily rhythms also raise the question of whether they might function under different molecular clockworks. Research team led by Professor Kim Jae Kyoung from the Department of Mathematical Sciences, a chief investigator at the Biomedical Mathematics Group at the Institute for Basic Science, used a combination of mathematical and experimental approaches using fruit flies to answer this question. The team found that the master clock and the slave clock operate via different molecular mechanisms. In both master and slave neurons of fruit flies, a circadian rhythm-related protein called PER is produced and degraded at different rates depending on the time of the day. Previously, the team found that the master clock neuron (sLNvs) and the slave clock neuron (DN1ps) have different profiles of PER in wild-type and Clk-Δ mutant Drosophila. This hinted that there might be a potential difference in molecular clockworks between the master and slave clock neurons. However, due to the complexity of the molecular clockwork, it was challenging to identify the source of such differences. Thus, the team developed a mathematical model describing the molecular clockworks of the master and slave clocks. Then, all possible molecular differences between the master and slave clock neurons were systematically investigated by using computer simulations. The model predicted that PER is more efficiently produced and then rapidly degraded in the master clock compared to the slave clock neurons. This prediction was then confirmed by the follow-up experiments using animal. Then, why do the master clock neurons have such different molecular properties from the slave clock neurons? To answer this question, the research team again used the combination of mathematical model simulation and experiments. It was found that the faster rate of synthesis of PER in the master clock neurons allows them to generate synchronized rhythms with a high level of amplitude. Generation of such a strong rhythm with high amplitude is critical to delivering clear signals to slave clock neurons. However, such strong rhythms would typically be unfavorable when it comes to adapting to environmental changes. These include natural causes such as different daylight hours across summer and winter seasons, up to more extreme artificial cases such as jet lag that occurs after international travel. Thanks to the distinct property of the master clock neurons, it is able to undergo phase dispersion when the standard light-dark cycle is disrupted, drastically reducing the level of PER. The master clock neurons can then easily adapt to the new diurnal cycle. Our master pacemaker’s plasticity explains how we can quickly adjust to the new time zones after international flights after just a brief period of jet lag. It is hoped that the findings of this study can have future clinical implications when it comes to treating various disorders that affect our circadian rhythm. Professor Kim notes, “When the circadian clock loses its robustness and flexibility, the circadian rhythms sleep disorders can occur. As this study identifies the molecular mechanism that generates robustness and flexibility of the circadian clock, it can facilitate the identification of the cause of and treatment strategy for the circadian rhythm sleep disorders.” This work was supported by the Human Frontier Science Program. -PublicationEui Min Jeong, Miri Kwon, Eunjoo Cho, Sang Hyuk Lee, Hyun Kim, Eun Young Kim, and Jae Kyoung Kim, “Systematic modeling-driven experiments identify distinct molecularclockworks underlying hierarchically organized pacemaker neurons,” February 22, 2022, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America -ProfileProfessor Jae Kyoung KimDepartment of Mathematical SciencesKAIST
Commencement Ceremony Honors the Class of 2022
Third online commencement ceremony since the pandemic outbreak celebrates 2741 graduates The 2022 commencement ceremony convened online on February 18 to celebrate and award degrees to the Class of 2022. The graduating class of 2022 included 663 PhDs, 1,383 Masters, and 695 Bachelors. The limited number of attendees included 86 graduate representatives and approximately 20 faculty members in senior leadership, as well as Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT Hyesook Lim. The ceremony was livestreamed on KAIST’s YouTube channel. Valedictorian Ji-Young Lee from the Department of Physics received the Minister of Science and ICT’s Award. Yu-Jin Bang from the School of Business and Technology Management was the Awardee of the Chairman of the KAIST Board of Trustees and the KAIST Presidential Awardee was Jong-Hwan Lee from the Department of Mathematical Sciences. KAIST conferred honorary doctorates to Honorary Chairman Jae-Chul Kim of Dongwon Group and Chairman Sung-Hwan Chang of Samsung Brush. Chairman Kim, whose donation funded the establishment of the Kim Jae-Chul Graduate School of AI, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science technology. Chairman Chang was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration in recognition of his funding in the fields of medical science and engineering at KAIST. This year’s undergraduate commencement speaker was Hye-Lin Park from the School of Computing. She has severe cerebral palsy and was the first student admitted to KAIST with a severe physical handicap. “I loved mathematics and wanted to become a mathematician. When I learned programming in my second year, I was so mesmerized by it that I transferred to the School of Computing,” said Park, who plans to continue studying programming languages in graduate school at KAIST. “I spent my entire life of 24 years in this beautiful wheelchair. Without the support and help of my parents, friends, and my special teachers who helped me move and study at the campus, I would not have made it this far,” said Park. For easier access to classrooms and facilities, KAIST started to remodel its facilities to make the entrance of buildings more wheelchair-friendly. Park made many suggestions to the Office of Student Life and the Facilities Management Office on how to ease mobility for handicapped people on campus. The physical education course that was required for graduation was also revised to stipulate exceptions. Minister Lim stressed the role of young scientists and researchers in these times of digital transformation dominated by AI and the metaverse. She encouraged the graduates to carry out their dreams with warm hearts and challenging spirits. KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee also stressed the power of dreams, calling for graduates to dream big even in times of uncertainty. “Humanity stands at an inflection point in history. The fourth industrial revolution and outbreak of Covid-19 have unfolded the grand global transformation. Although the future gives us new opportunities, it also comes with anxiety regarding the uncertainties ahead.” “Dreams make your heart race and push us to live life to the fullest. Dreams will help you keep moving forward even in the face of adversity,” he said.
President Lee Presents Plans to Nurture Next-Generation Talents
President Lee stressed that nurturing medical scientists, semiconductor R&D personnel, startup entrepreneurs, and global innovators are key missions he will continue to pursue during a news conference KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee said that nurturing medical scientists, semiconductor R&D personnel, startup entrepreneurs, and global innovators are key missions he will continue to pursue during an online news conference marking the 1st anniversary of him becoming the president on February 15. He said that nurturing physician-scientists is the most critical mission for KAIST to help the nation create a new growth engine. He said KAIST will help the nation drive the bio-industry and provide medical science resources for the nation’s health sector. To this end, he said that KAIST will open its Medical Science and Technology School by 2026. “We plan to expand the current Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering into a new Medical Science and Technology School that will focus entirely on a condensed MD-PhD course converging the fields of AI, bio, and physics,” he said. The school aims to foster medical scientists whose research results will eventually be commercialized. He said that the university is now discussing revisions to related laws and regulations with the government and other universities. To supply human resources to the semiconductor industry, President Lee said the university will add a campus in Pyongtaek City that will serve as an advanced convergence research hub in the field of next generation semiconductors in collaboration with Samsung Electronics and the city of Pyongtaek. The three-stage opening plan projected the final opening of the campus by 2036. During the first stage, which will be completed by 2026, it will construct the campus infrastructure in Pyongtaek city where Samsung Semiconductors runs two massive semiconductor complexes. By 2031, it plans to launch the open research platform including a future cities research center and future vehicles research center. The campus will open the global industrial collaboration cluster hub by 2036. In the global arena, President Lee said he is working to open the New York campus with stakeholders in the United States. He announced the plan last December that was endorsed by New York-based entrepreneur Hee-Nam Bae, the chairman of Big Continent Inc. President Lee and Chairman Lee signed an MOU for the funding to open the campus in New York. “We are discussing how to facilitate the plan and best accommodate the interests and potential of our students. Many ideas and plans are on the table and we think it will take longer than expected to finalize the plan,” explained President Lee. However, he added that the basic idea is to offer art tech and health technology programs as well as an AI-based finance MBA at the New York campus, in addition to it serving as the startup accelerator of KAIST. President Lee stressed the importance of technology commercialization when successfully launching KAIST Holdings last month to help spinoffs of KAIST labs accelerate their end results. He said that KAIST Holdings will build a virtuous supporting system to commercialize the technology startups coming from KAIST. “We plan to list at least 10 KAIST startups on the KOSDAQ and two on the NASDAQ by 2031. KAIST Holdings also aims to nurture companies valued at a total of one billion KRW and earn 100 billion KRW in technology fees by 2031.
Research Finds Digital Music Streaming Consumption Dropped as a Result of Covid-19 and Lockdowns
Decline in human mobility has stunning consequences for content streaming The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming in many countries as people turned to video platforms. On average, audio music consumption decreased by 12.5% after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic declaration in March 2020. Music streaming services were an unlikely area hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. New research in Marketing Science found that the drop in people’s mobility during the pandemic significantly reduced the consumption of audio music streaming. Instead, people turned more to video platforms. “On average, audio music consumption decreased by more than 12% after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic declaration on March 11, 2020. As a result, during the pandemic, Spotify lost 838 million dollars of revenue in the first three quarters of 2020,” said Jaeung Sim, a PhD candidate in management engineering at KAIST and one of the authors of the research study on this phenomenon. “Our results showed that human mobility plays a much larger role in the audio consumption of music than previously thought.” The study, “Frontiers: Virus Shook the Streaming Star: Estimating the Covid-19 Impact on Music Consumption,” conducted by Sim and Professor Daegon Cho of KAIST, Youngdeok Hwang of City University of New York, and Rahul Telang of Carnegie Mellon University, looked at online music streaming data for top songs for two years in 60 countries, as well as Covid-19 cases, lockdown statistics, and daily mobility data, to determine the nature of the changes. The study showed how the pandemic adversely impacted music streaming services despite the common expectation that the pandemic would universally benefit online medias platforms. This implies that the substantially changing media consumption environment can place streaming music in fiercer competition with other media forms that offer more dynamic and vivid experiences to consumers. The researchers found that music consumption through video platforms was positively associated with the severity of Covid-19, lockdown policies, and time spent at home. -PublicationJaeung Sim, Daegon Cho, Youngdeok Hwang, and Rahul Telang,“Frontiers: Virus Shook the Streaming Star: Estimating the Covid-19 Impact on Music Consumption,” November 30 in Marketing Science online (doi.org/10.1287/mksc.2021.1321) -Profile Professor Daegon ChoGraduate School of Information and Media ManagementCollege of BusinessKAIST
AI Weather Forecasting Research Center Opens
The Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI in collaboration with the National Institute of Meteorological Sciences (NIMS) under the National Meteorological Administration launched the AI Weather Forecasting Research Center last month. The KAIST AI Weather Forecasting Research Center headed by Professor Seyoung Yoon was established with funding from from the AlphaWeather Development Research Project of the National Institute of Meteorological Sciences. KAIST was finally selected asas the project facilitator. AlphaWeather is an AI system that utilizes and analyzes approximately approximately 150,000 ,000 pieces of weather information per hour to help weather forecasters produce accurate weather forecasts. The research center is composed of three research teams with the following goals: (a) developdevelop AI technology for precipitation nowcasting, (b) developdevelop AI technology for accelerating physical process-based numerical models, and (c) develop dAI technology for supporting weather forecasters. The teams consist of 15 staff member members from NIMS and 61 researchers from the Kim Jaechul Graduate School of AI at KAIST. The research center is developing an AI algorithm for precipitation nowcasting (with up to six hours of lead time), which uses satellite images, radar reflectivity, and data collected from weather stations. It is also developing an AI algorithm for correcting biases in the prediction results from multiple numerical models. Finally, it is Finally, it is developing AI technology that supports weather forecasters by standardizing and automating repetitive manual processes. After verification, the the results obtained will be used by by the Korean National Weather Service as a next-generation forecasting/special-reporting system intelligence engine from 2026.
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
KAIST KPC4IR Presents the AI Global Guide for Healthcare
The benchmark for the responsible usage of AI technology in the healthcare sector will promote clarity and high standards for technological applications The KAIST Korea Policy Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (KPC4IR) published 'Using AI to Support Healthcare Decisions: A Guide for Society.' This global guide is designed to serve as a benchmark for the responsible usage of AI technologies, and will promote clarity and high standards for technological applications in the healthcare sector. The guide details what should be considered when making clinical decisions to help reduce the chances of the AI giving false or misleading results. The KPC4IR presented the guide in collaboration with the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Institute for the Public Understanding of Risk at the National University of Singapore (NUS IPUR) and Sense about Science, a non-profit organization in the UK specialized in science communication, during the 2021 SIG-KDD (Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining) Conference on August 15. AI technology is being widely used in the healthcare sector and has already proved its accuracy and efficiency in diagnosing and predicting diseases. Despite its huge impact on our daily lives in every sector of society, AI technology has some drawbacks and comes with risks, especially due to biased algorithms. “We focused on the ‘reliability’ of AI applications in the healthcare sector to make all data well represented, in good quality. The technology will eventually innovate to better serve the people’s new demand, especially critical demands for safety and precision in healthcare services. This global guide will help both developers and people’s understanding of the appropriate technology applications,” says Director So Young Kim at the KPC4IR. The guide, for instance, says that to scrutinize quality and reliability, the source of the data must be clearly known; the data must have been collected or selected for the purpose it’s being used for; the limitations and assumptions for that purpose have been clearly stated; the biases have been addressed; and it has been properly tested in the real world. It also reflects the importance of the representativeness of data that will affect the accuracy of the AI applications. “By being transparent and demonstrating the steps taken to check that the AI is reliable, researchers and developers can help give people confidence about providing their data,” the guide states. For this guide, the KPC4IR and its collaborators collected data after working with numerous experts from the Graduate School of AI at KAIST, the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Korea, Asan Medical Center in Seoul, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, and AI solution companies.
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