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New Bio-Clock gene and its function found
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that a Korean research team has found a new gene responsible for maintaining the bio-clock (twenty-four) and its mechanism. Twnety-four was led by Professor Choi Joon Ho and Dr. Lee Jong Bin of KAIST (department of Biology) and was a joint operation with Professor Ravi Allada and Dr.Lim Jeong Hoon of Northwestern University (department of neurobiology) and the result was published in ‘Nature’ magazine. The research team experimented with transformed small fruit flies for 4 years and found that there was an undiscovered gene that deals with the bio rhythm in the brain which they named ‘twenty-four’. The understanding with genes prior to twenty-four was that these genes regulate biorhythm in the transcription phase (DNA to mRNA). Twenty-four operates in the step after transcription when the ribosome creates proteins. Especially twenty-four has a great effect on the ‘period protein’ which acts as a sub-atomic clock that regulates the rhythm and life of each cell. The experiment was innovational in that it was able to scientifically prove the function of the protein produced by the gene. The result is expected to help solve the problems associated with sleep disorders, jetlags, eating rhythms, bio rhythms, etc. The name twenty-four was the fact that a day, a cycle, is 24 hours long and the gene’s serial numbers CG4857 adds up to twenty four.
Success in differentiating Functional Vascular Progenitor Cells (VPC)
KAIST’s Professor Han Yong Man successfully differentiated vascular progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cells and reversed differentiated stem cells. The research went beyond the current method of synthesis of embryonic body or mice cell ball culture and used the careful alteration of signal transmission system of the human embryonic stem cells to differentiate the formation of vascular progenitor cells. The team controlled the MEK/ERK and BMP signal transmission system that serves an important role in the self replication of human embryonic stem cells and successfully differentiated 20% of the cells experimented on to vascular progenitor cells. The vascular progenitor cells produced with such a method successfully differentiated into cells forming the endodermis of the blood vessel, vascular smooth muscle cells and hematopoietic cells in an environment outside of the human body and also successfully differentiated into blood vessels in nude mice. In addition, the vascular progenitor cell derived from human embryonic cells successfully formed blood vessels or secreted vascular growth factors and increased the blood flow and the necrosis of blood vessels when injected into an animal with limb ischemic illness. The research was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, 21st Century Frontier Research and Development Institution’s Cell Application Research Department and Professor Ko Kyu Young (KAIST), Professor Choi Chul Hee (KAIST), Professor Jeong Hyung Min (Cha Medical School) and Doctor Jo Lee Sook (Researcher in Korea Bio Engineering Institute) participated in it. The results of the research was published as the cover paper of the September edition of “Blood (IF:10.55)”, the American Blood Journal and has been patented domestically and has finished registration of foreign PCT. The results of the experiment opened the possibility of providing a patient specific cure using stem cells in the field of blood vessel illness.
Professor Kang Suk Joong receives 'Korea Engineering Award.'
KAIST”s Professor Kang Suk Joong of the Department of Material Science and Engineering received ‘Korea Engineering Award’ from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Korea Research Foundation. The award is given to those professors who have accomplished world class research and results. Professor Kang has potentially redirected the direction of research in the field of the microstructure of materials by explaining the fundamental principle behind how the microstructure of a material that affects the physical properties of the polycrystalline structure and changes through processing. Professor Kang applied the results of his findings in the manufacture of new materials and made significant contributions to Korean Material Engineering Industry and was consequently awarded the award. The ‘Korea Engineering Award’ was thought of in 1994 and a total of 24 recipients were recognized through the award in various fields like electronics, mechanics, chemistry, construction, etc. The recipient is awarded in addition the President’s award and 50million won as prize money. The ceremony for ‘Korea Engineering Award’ and the ‘Young Scientist Award’ was held in Seoul Press Center Press Club on the 22nd of December at 3pm. The Minister of Education, Science and Technology (Lee Joo Ho), member of Board of Directors of the Korea Research Foundation (Kim Byoung Gook), Director of Korea Science and Technology Archive (Jeong Gil Seng), along with the recipients attended the ceremony. In addition, Professor Kang was appointed as Distinguished Professor in March 2010 in recognition of his research accomplishments.
Minister of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia Visited KAIST to Sign Agreement on Joint Research Projects
Khaled bin Mohammad Al-Anqari, the Minister of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia, visited KAIST on October 26th to conclude a joint agreement with KAIST. The group of Saudi Arabian visitors included Abdullah bin Abdularhman Al-Othman, President of the King Saud University, Osama bin Sadiq Tayeb, President of King Abdulaziz University, and Khalid bin Salih Al-Sultan, President of the best Saudi Arabian technological university, King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals. Through research agreement between KAIST and the King Saud University and King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals, joint research projects, mutual visitations of research professors, interchange of academic programs, joint seminars and scientific societies will be held to promote the lively interchange between higher education institutions of Korea and Saudi Arabia. In particular, King Saud University and KAIST has signed an agreement on joint research projects in the fields of “Solar-Ocean Thermal Exchange Desalination,” “Develop New Energy Management Service for Residential and Commercial Customers Using Smart Metering and Sensor Network Information” and “Superior Production of Lactic Acid from Saudi Dates Using Bioprocess Technology.” The projects will be funded by the Saudi Arabian government, and their scope will be determined in the future “Compared to the robust industrial economic interactions between the Middle East and Korea, the interchange of the two countries’ higher education institutions has been poor,” said Jong Hyun Kim, Visiting Professor of Nuclear & Quantum Engineering Department of KAIST who will be conducting one of the joint programs with the Electrical Engineering Department of the King Saud University. “Like this joint research, I hope KAIST will, in many different ways, lead the way in cooperating and interacting with higher education institutions of the Middle EAST.” Al-Anquari, Minister of Higher Education of Saudi Arabia, who showed great interest in KAIST’s innovative research and high technology development, expressed his will to put more effort into extending the interchange between universities of Saudi Arabia and of Korea, including KAIST.
Native-like Spider Silk Produced in Metabolically Engineered Bacterium
Microscopic picture of 285 kilodalton recombinant spider silk fiber Researchers have long envied spiders’ ability to manufacture silk that is light-weighted while as strong and tough as steel or Kevlar. Indeed, finer than human hair, five times stronger by weight than steel, and three times tougher than the top quality man-made fiber Kevlar, spider dragline silk is an ideal material for numerous applications. Suggested industrial applications have ranged from parachute cords and protective clothing to composite materials in aircrafts. Also, many biomedical applications are envisioned due to its biocompatibility and biodegradability. Unfortunately, natural dragline silk cannot be conveniently obtained by farming spiders because they are highly territorial and aggressive. To develop a more sustainable process, can scientists mass-produce artificial silk while maintaining the amazing properties of native silk? That is something Sang Yup Lee at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, and his collaborators, Professor Young Hwan Park at Seoul National University and Professor David Kaplan at Tufts University, wanted to figure out. Their method is very similar to what spiders essentially do: first, expression of recombinant silk proteins; second, making the soluble silk proteins into water-insoluble fibers through spinning. For the successful expression of high molecular weight spider silk protein, Professor Lee and his colleagues pieced together the silk gene from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, and then inserted it into the expression host (in this case, an industrially safe bacterium Escherichia coli which is normally found in our gut). Initially, the bacterium refused to the challenging task of producing high molecular weight spider silk protein due to the unique characteristics of the protein, such as extremely large size, repetitive nature of the protein structure, and biased abundance of a particular amino acid glycine. “To make E. coli synthesize this ultra high molecular weight (as big as 285 kilodalton) spider silk protein having highly repetitive amino acid sequence, we helped E. coli overcome the difficulties by systems metabolic engineering,” says Sang Yup Lee, Distinguished Professor of KAIST, who led this project. His team boosted the pool of glycyl-tRNA, the major building block of spider silk protein synthesis. “We could obtain appreciable expression of the 285 kilodalton spider silk protein, which is the largest recombinant silk protein ever produced in E. coli. That was really incredible.” says Dr. Xia. But this was only step one. The KAIST team performed high-cell-density cultures for mass production of the recombinant spider silk protein. Then, the team developed a simple, easy to scale-up purification process for the recombinant spider silk protein. The purified spider silk protein could be spun into beautiful silk fiber. To study the mechanical properties of the artificial spider silk, the researchers determined tenacity, elongation, and Young’s modulus, the three critical mechanical parameters that represent a fiber’s strength, extensibility, and stiffness. Importantly, the artificial fiber displayed the tenacity, elongation, and Young’s modulus of 508 MPa, 15%, and 21 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to those of the native spider silk. “We have offered an overall platform for mass production of native-like spider dragline silk. This platform would enable us to have broader industrial and biomedical applications for spider silk. Moreover, many other silk-like biomaterials such as elastin, collagen, byssus, resilin, and other repetitive proteins have similar features to spider silk protein. Thus, our platform should also be useful for their efficient bio-based production and applications,” concludes Professor Lee. This work is published on July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) online.
A stream of generous donations to KAIST continues to grow.
Yi-Won Oh is nothing but an ordinary person who lives in Seoul. Ever since retirement, she has looked into ways to donate her savings for a bigger cause that will benefit the people in need and the nation as a whole. On the inauguration day of President Nam Pyo Suh who took his second term in office, Ms. Oh joined the ceremony and pledged to donate her savings to KAIST, which amounted to 10 billion won. “I’ve always thought that the best way for our country to become a developed nation that lacks natural resources and has a small land is to develop science and technology by producing excellent manpower through a quality education. I talked to President Suh a couple of times, and we shared our common belief that the future of our nation hinges on the advancement of science and technology in Korea,” said Ms. Oh. She added, “I support for President Suh’s vision and leadership, who has brought reformative and innovative changes to KAIST. I have no doubt that KAIST will become a leading research university in the world and play an important role in the development of our nation. It is indeed my pleasure that I can make announcement to donate my money to KAIST on the day President Suh is assigned to lead such a distinguished university one more time.” KAIST plans to create and operate a fund dubbed “Yi-Won Oh Scholarship and Grant for Young Chair Professors.” Through the fund, talented students suffering financial difficulties and promising, young professors will have a richer opportunity to study and research.
KAIST Secures Top Ranking of Korean Universities
KAIST won the No. 1 position for the second year in a row in the daily JoongAng Ilbo"s university rankings for 2009. Seoul National University took back the No. 2 spot, followed in order by POSTECH, Korea and Yonsei universities. The survey was conducted in the four categories, educational environment/finance, professors" research, general reputation/social advancement and globalization. KAIST scored 293 points out of possible 400 this year, while the second-ranking SNU and third-ranking POSTECH earned 234 and 226 points, respectively. The daily noted that KAIST particularly excelled in the category of educational environment/finance. It observed that donations to KAIST surged almost 100 times for the past three years since 2006 when President Suh took office. In specific rankings of universities by academic disciplines, SNU came in first overall. KAIST topped in the science and engineering field, while Korea University ranked first in liberal arts studies. This year, 88 four-year universities participated in the survey. The daily JoongAng Ilbo started its annual evaluation of Koran universities in 1994 to stimulate productive competition among institutions of higher learning and to provide objective standards for students and their parents to select schools for application. For more information, news.joins.com/article/391/3789391.html
KAIST College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering Signs MOU with Harvard
KAIST’s College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Harvard University’s Center for Brain Science on July 20, which will allow for joint research and exchange in researchers between the two institutions. Headed by Director Kenneth Blum, Harvard’s Center for Brain Science leads the world in brain-related research. The new MOU will allow for research cooperation, exchanges of professors, researchers, and students, joint usage of infrastructure and research materials, and finally, sharing of research assignments. The Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering Sang Yup Lee, who concerted efforts to form the MOU said, “This agreement will bring together two of the world’s leading brain-related research teams, and I hope that combining their expertise will bring great advances in brain science and engineering. KAIST’s College of Life Science and Bioengineering, which is known for its creative interdisciplinary research, is producing exemplary research results in the field of brain science from its Biological Sciences and Bio and Brain Engineering departments. In addition to cooperation with Harvard, KAIST has also formed partnerships with Emory University, Japan’s RIKEN Brain Institute, and Germany’s Max Planck Institute. Not only does it have a worldwide network pertaining to brain research, but KAIST has also engaged in cooperative research with prominent domestic institutions such as, Asan Medical Center, the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, and the SK Corporation. Through these connections, KAIST has managed to lead in mutually cooperative brain interdisciplinary research.
USC Professor Appointed New Dean of KAIST College of Business
Ravi Kumar, former vice dean of the Graduate and International Program at the University of Southern California, has been appointed as dean of the KAIST College of Business, the university announced on Tuesday (June 30). Dr. Kumar has been a professor of information and operations management at the Marshall School of Business, USC. He is widely known for his research on global operations, particularly in improving operational performance through cellular design and integrated decision-making with marketing and information technology. KAIST President Nam-Pyo Suh said: "We are fortunate to have Prof. Kumar as the new Dean of the College of Business. He has made many important contributions to the USC business school, especially in adding international dimensions to the school"s activities. He has established an impeccable reputation as a scholar and visionary. We expect that he will display great leadership in making the KAIST College of Business one of the best schools of its kind in the world." Prof. Kumar received his bachelor degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in 1974, master degree from the University of Texas, Arlington, in 1976 and doctorate degree from Northwestern University in 1981. His papers have been published in Management Science, Marketing Science, Journal of Economic Theory, Production and Operations Management, Journal of Operations Management and Journal of Management Information Systems. He serves as a senior editor on the Board of Production and Operations management and Operations management Educational Review. He has won several awards for teaching excellence at both the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and USC. They included the Outstanding Educator Award and the Golden Apple Teaching Award. Prof. Kumar has extensive international consulting experiences with Rolls Royce, BMW, Daimler Benz Aerospace, ABB, Ericsson, BAS Global, Motorola, Reuters, Du Pont, Sanwa Bank, Korea First Bank, Korean Air, Infosys, Acer, Shell Hong Kong and other companies.
Lecture Hall Named After Venture Businessman Min-Hwa Lee
A lecture hall in the Alumni Start-Up Building on the KAIST campus was named Min-Hwa Lee Hall in a ceremony on Tuesday to pay tribute to KAIST alumnus Min-Hwa Lee"s contributions to the development of Korean venture business. On hand at the ceremony were Sung-Woo Hong, head of the Small and Medium Business Administration, KAIST President Nam-Pyo Suh, dozens of KAIST alumni representatives, and figures from government research institutes. Lee, who obtained his M.S. (1978) and Ph.D. (1985) in Electrical Engineering from KAIST, established a fund of 10 billion won along with other KAIST alumni in 2001 and donated it for the construction of the Alumni Start-Up Building for aspiring entrepreneurs. To remember his lofty vision, KAIST decided to name a lecture hall after him. As a venture businessman, Lee founded the Madison, Ltd., one of the earliest venture companies in Korea, in 1985. Lee then played a leading role in the creation of the Korea Venture Industry Association in 1995, and in the establishment of KOSDAQ and the enactment of a special law for venture enterprises. KAIST will appoint Lee as an adjunct professor in recognition of his expertise in venture business and commercialization of new inventions. Lee will teach entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Management and the Institute for Gifted Students, a KAIST affiliate. "Dr. Lee has made a great contribution to the development of Korean venture business. At a time when commercialization of new inventions was at an infant stage, he nurtured technology ventures and built the foundation for the proliferation of technology venture," President Suh said. "We expect that he will strive to open the generation of technologies which will lead the development of Korea in the future and become a mentor of aspiring entrepreneurs," Suh added.
KAIST to hold International Workshop on Flexible Displays
The 2009 KAIST International Workshop on Flexible Displays will take place at the Electrical Engineering Building on June 25, university sources said on Tuesday (June 23). The workshop organized by the Center for Advanced Flexible Display Convergence (CAFDC) will explore the status and future vision of flexible and transparent plasma displays, which are among the key technologies for the development of the next-generation displays. There will be also discussions about technologies to realize the large-scale flexible and transparent display which is regarded as the display of the future. Among the speakers are some of the most prominent figures in the field. Gary Eden from University of Illinois, Prof. Kunihide Tachibana from Kyoto University, and Carol Wedding, the president of Imaging Systems Tech., USA and several other well-known professors and engineers will participate in the workshop. Professor Kyung-Cheol Choi, CAFDC chair, said: "The workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to examine the flexible and transparent plasma display technologies. It will also be a good chance to explore large-scale flexible and transparent displays from various technical viewpoints."
Computer Security Guru Ahn to Become Chair Professor at KAIST
Chul-Soo Ahn, founder of AhnLab Inc., Korea"s largest computer security company, will become a chair professor of KAIST, university authorities said on Monday (April 7). Ahn, 46, who is currently taking an executive education course at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, will start teaching computer science students this fall. In 1988 when he was a doctorate student at the Medical School of Seoul National University, Ahn developed a computer virus vaccine program and created a sensation in the fledgling computer security market. In 1995, he founded AhnLab and served as CEO for ten years. In 2005, he stepped down as CEO of AhnLab and left for the U.S. Currently, he is serving as chairman of the board of directors of AhnLab. University authorities said that KAIST decided to appoint Ahn as a chair professor in recognition of his profound knowledge in computer technology as well as extensive experiences in corporate management .
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