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New Catalyst Recycles Greenhouse Gases into Fuel and Hydrogen Gas
< Professor Cafer T. Yavuz (left), PhD Candidate Youngdong Song (center), and Researcher Sreerangappa Ramesh (right) > Scientists have taken a major step toward a circular carbon economy by developing a long-lasting, economical catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas, and other chemicals. The results could be revolutionary in the effort to reverse global warming, according to the researchers. The study was published on February 14 in Science. “We set out to develop an effective catalyst that can convert large amounts of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane without failure,” said Cafer T. Yavuz, paper author and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at KAIST. The catalyst, made from inexpensive and abundant nickel, magnesium, and molybdenum, initiates and speeds up the rate of reaction that converts carbon dioxide and methane into hydrogen gas. It can work efficiently for more than a month. This conversion is called ‘dry reforming’, where harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, are processed to produce more useful chemicals that could be refined for use in fuel, plastics, or even pharmaceuticals. It is an effective process, but it previously required rare and expensive metals such as platinum and rhodium to induce a brief and inefficient chemical reaction. Other researchers had previously proposed nickel as a more economical solution, but carbon byproducts would build up and the surface nanoparticles would bind together on the cheaper metal, fundamentally changing the composition and geometry of the catalyst and rendering it useless. “The difficulty arises from the lack of control on scores of active sites over the bulky catalysts surfaces because any refinement procedures attempted also change the nature of the catalyst itself,” Yavuz said. The researchers produced nickel-molybdenum nanoparticles under a reductive environment in the presence of a single crystalline magnesium oxide. As the ingredients were heated under reactive gas, the nanoparticles moved on the pristine crystal surface seeking anchoring points. The resulting activated catalyst sealed its own high-energy active sites and permanently fixed the location of the nanoparticles — meaning that the nickel-based catalyst will not have a carbon build up, nor will the surface particles bind to one another. “It took us almost a year to understand the underlying mechanism,” said first author Youngdong Song, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. “Once we studied all the chemical events in detail, we were shocked.” The researchers dubbed the catalyst Nanocatalysts on Single Crystal Edges (NOSCE). The magnesium-oxide nanopowder comes from a finely structured form of magnesium oxide, where the molecules bind continuously to the edge. There are no breaks or defects in the surface, allowing for uniform and predictable reactions. “Our study solves a number of challenges the catalyst community faces,” Yavuz said. “We believe the NOSCE mechanism will improve other inefficient catalytic reactions and provide even further savings of greenhouse gas emissions.” This work was supported, in part, by the Saudi-Aramco-KAIST CO2 Management Center and the National Research Foundation of Korea. Other contributors include Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, and Saravanan Subramanian, all of whom are affiliated with the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability at KAIST; Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, and Aqil Jamal, all of whom are with the Research and Development Center in Saudi Arabia; and Dohyun Moon and Sun Hee Choi, both of whom are with the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory in Korea. Ozdemir is also affiliated with the Institute of Nanotechnology at the Gebze Technical University in Turkey; Fadhel and Jamal are also affiliated with the Saudi-Armco-KAIST CO2 Management Center in Korea. <Newly developed catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas and other chemicals.> Publication: Song et al. (2020) Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgO. Science, Vol. 367, Issue 6479, pp. 777-781. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aav2412 Profile: Prof. Cafer T. Yavuz, MA, PhD email@example.com http://yavuz.kaist.ac.kr/ Associate Professor Oxide and Organic Nanomaterials for the Environment (ONE) Laboratory Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Youngdong Song firstname.lastname@example.org Ph.D. Candidate Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
What Fuels a “Domino Effect” in Cancer Drug Resistance?
KAIST researchers have identified mechanisms that relay prior acquired resistance to the first-line chemotherapy to the second-line targeted therapy, fueling a “domino effect” in cancer drug resistance. Their study featured in the February 7 edition of Science Advances suggests a new strategy for improving the second-line setting of cancer treatment for patients who showed resistance to anti-cancer drugs. Resistance to cancer drugs is often managed in the clinic by chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Unlike chemotherapy that works by repressing fast-proliferating cells, targeted therapy blocks a single oncogenic pathway to halt tumor growth. In many cases, targeted therapy is engaged as a maintenance therapy or employed in the second-line after front-line chemotherapy. A team of researchers led by Professor Yoosik Kim from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the KAIST Institute for Health Science and Technology (KIHST) has discovered an unexpected resistance signature that occurs between chemotherapy and targeted therapy. The team further identified a set of integrated mechanisms that promotes this kind of sequential therapy resistance. “There have been multiple clinical accounts reflecting that targeted therapies tend to be least successful in patients who have exhausted all standard treatments,” said the first author of the paper Mark Borris D. Aldonza. He continued, “These accounts ignited our hypothesis that failed responses to some chemotherapies might speed up the evolution of resistance to other drugs, particularly those with specific targets.” Aldonza and his colleagues extracted large amounts of drug-resistance information from the open-source database the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer (GDSC), which contains thousands of drug response data entries from various human cancer cell lines. Their big data analysis revealed that cancer cell lines resistant to chemotherapies classified as anti-mitotic drugs (AMDs), toxins that inhibit overacting cell division, are also resistant to a class of targeted therapies called epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (EGFR-TKIs). In all of the cancer types analyzed, more than 84 percent of those resistant to AMDs, representatively ‘paclitaxel’, were also resistant to at least nine EGFR-TKIs. In lung, pancreatic, and breast cancers where paclitaxel is often used as a first-line, standard-of-care regimen, greater than 92 percent showed resistance to EGFR-TKIs. Professor Kim said, “It is surprising to see that such collateral resistance can occur specifically between two chemically different classes of drugs.” To figure out how failed responses to paclitaxel leads to resistance to EGFR-TKIs, the team validated co-resistance signatures that they found in the database by generating and analyzing a subset of slow-doubling, paclitaxel-resistant cancer models called ‘persisters’. The results demonstrated that paclitaxel-resistant cancers remodel their stress response by first becoming more stem cell-like, evolving the ability to self-renew to adapt to more stressful conditions like drug exposures. More surprisingly, when the researchers characterized the metabolic state of the cells, EGFR-TKI persisters derived from paclitaxel-resistant cancer cells showed high dependencies to energy-producing processes such as glycolysis and glutaminolysis. “We found that, without an energy stimulus like glucose, these cells transform to becoming more senescent, a characteristic of cells that have arrested cell division. However, this senescence is controlled by stem cell factors, which the paclitaxel-resistant cancers use to escape from this arrested state given a favorable condition to re-grow,” said Aldonza. Professor Kim explained, “Before this research, there was no reason to expect that acquiring the cancer stem cell phenotype that dramatically leads to a cascade of changes in cellular states affecting metabolism and cell death is linked with drug-specific sequential resistance between two classes of therapies.” He added, “The expansion of our work to other working models of drug resistance in a much more clinically-relevant setting, perhaps in clinical trials, will take on increasing importance, as sequential treatment strategies will continue to be adapted to various forms of anti-cancer therapy regimens.” This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2016R1C1B2009886), and the KAIST Future Systems Healthcare Project (KAISTHEALTHCARE42) funded by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT). Undergraduate student Aldonza participated in this research project and presented the findings as the lead author as part of the Undergraduate Research Participation (URP) Program at KAIST. < Figure 1. Schematic overview of the study. > < Figure 2. Big data analysis revealing co-resistance signatures between classes of anti-cancer drugs. > Publication: Aldonza et al. (2020) Prior acquired resistance to paclitaxel relays diverse EGFR-targeted therapy persistence mechanisms. Science Advances, Vol. 6, No. 6, eaav7416. Available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav7416 Profile: Prof. Yoosik Kim, MA, PhD email@example.com https://qcbio.kaist.ac.kr/ Assistant Professor Bio Network Analysis Laboratory Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea Profile: Mark Borris D. Aldonza firstname.lastname@example.org Undergraduate Student Department of Biological Sciences Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) http://kaist.ac.kr Daejeon, Republic of Korea (END)
Blood-Based Multiplexed Diagnostic Sensor Helps to Accurately Detect Alzheimer’s Disease
A research team at KAIST reported clinically accurate multiplexed electrical biosensor for detecting Alzheimer’s disease by measuring its core biomarkers using densely aligned carbon nanotubes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder, affecting one in ten aged over 65 years. Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of suffering the disease by one-third, according to recent reports. However, its early diagnosis remains challenging due to the low accuracy but high cost of diagnosis. Research team led by Professors Chan Beum Park and Steve Park described an ultrasensitive detection of multiple Alzheimer's disease core biomarker in human plasma. The team have designed the sensor array by employing a densely aligned single-walled carbon nanotube thin films as a transducer. The representative biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease are beta-amyloid42, beta-amyloid40, total tau protein, phosphorylated tau protein and the concentrations of these biomarkers in human plasma are directly correlated with the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The research team developed a highly sensitive resistive biosensor based on densely aligned carbon nanotubes fabricated by Langmuir-Blodgett method with a low manufacturing cost. Aligned carbon nanotubes with high density minimizes the tube-to-tube junction resistance compared with randomly distributed carbon nanotubes, which leads to the improvement of sensor sensitivity. To be more specific, this resistive sensor with densely aligned carbon nanotubes exhibits a sensitivity over 100 times higher than that of conventional carbon nanotube-based biosensors. By measuring the concentrations of four Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers simultaneously Alzheimer patients can be discriminated from health controls with an average sensitivity of 90.0%, a selectivity of 90.0% and an average accuracy of 88.6%. This work, titled “Clinically accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease via multiplexed sensing of core biomarkers in human plasma”, were published in Nature Communications on January 8th 2020. The authors include PhD candidate Kayoung Kim and MS candidate Min-Ji Kim. Professor Steve Park said, “This study was conducted on patients who are already confirmed with Alzheimer’s Disease. For further use in practical setting, it is necessary to test the patients with mild cognitive impairment.” He also emphasized that, “It is essential to establish a nationwide infrastructure, such as mild cognitive impairment cohort study and a dementia cohort study. This would enable the establishment of world-wide research network, and will help various private and public institutions.” This research was supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Human Resource Bank of Chungnam National University Hospital and Chungbuk National University Hospital. < A schematic diagram of a high-density aligned carbon nanotube-based resistive sensor that distinguishes patients with Alzheimer’s Disease by measuring the concentration of four biomarkers in the blood. > Profile: Professor Steve Park email@example.com Department of Materials Science and Engineering http://steveparklab.kaist.ac.kr/ KAIST Profile: Professor Chan Beum Park parkcb at kaist.ac.kr Department of Materials Science and Engineering http://biomaterials.kaist.ac.kr/ KAIST
COVID-19 Update: Precautionary Measures Reschedule Spring Semester to March 16
(Campus-wide preventive measures against the new coronavirus are being enforced.) In response to the coronavirus outbreak, KAIST has decided to alter the academic calendar, postponing the opening of the spring semester until March 16, two weeks behind the original schedule. This is following the decision of the Deans’ Council to postpone or cancel the major academic ceremonies and events scheduled in February. According to the decision, the commencement ceremony scheduled on February 21 will be postponed; meanwhile the freshmen orientation and matriculation ceremonies have been cancelled. Additionally, the ceremonies for the KAIST anniversary and faculty retirement ceremony scheduled on February 14 and the faculty workshop on February 27 have been postponed. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases among the KAIST community as of February 6. The university is also enhancing campus-wide precautionary safety measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The Facilities Management Office said that they will start disinfecting all dining facilities, cafeterias, libraries, lecture halls, and student halls for two days from Feb. 6. Plastic gloves are provided at cafeteria, which is using buffet spoons and tongs, and cafeteria patrons are being asked to wear the plastic gloves when they place food on their own plate in a preventive measure to avoid possible contact between individuals. KAIST also launched a 24/7-hour Emergency Response Team and disseminated a response manual to KAIST community members. The Office of Student Life surveyed students, faculty, and staff to report if anyone has traveled to China or been in contact with visitors who made a trip to China within the last two weeks. The university designated a building in one of the dorm complexes as a quarantine facility and a total of 11 people who visited China have been self-quarantined for two weeks from January 31. Provost and Executive Vice President Kwang Hyung Lee explained in his letter to KAIST community members on February 4 that the university is exerting all possible measures and efforts against the spreading virus and asked for every member’s cooperation to prevent the further spread of the disease. “Those who self-quarantined don’t have any symptoms. This is just a precautionary measure. The self-quarantine at our facility is only limited to those who declared that they do not have a legal residence in Korea,” said Provost Lee. The transportation to the facility is specially arranged and meal boxes are delivered to the quarantined room individually. A full-time guard in front of the isolated dorm building will be on duty 24 hours a day. He explained the university chose the Hwaam Complex as the self-quarantine facility because each building in the complex is set apart from the others and each room has its own bathroom and shower facilities. Provost Lee said that the university will use another dorm complex if any current dorm residents where the quarantine facility has been set up wish to move to other dorm complexes. (END)
New KAA President Chilhee Chung Calls Alumni Engagement a Top Priority
The KAIST Alumni Association (KAA) inaugurated Advisor Chilhee Chung of Samsung Electronics as its new president. President Chung was preceded by Ki-Chul Cha, the CEO of Inbody Co. Ltd. His term as the 25th president starts from February 2020 and ends in January 2022. President Chung received his master’s degree from KAIST's Department of Physics in 1979 and joined Samsung Electronics the same year. He also holds a doctorate in physics from Michigan State University in the United States. President Chung devoted himself to helping Samsung Electronics and Korea's system semiconductor and memory device technologies achieve global dominance for more than 40 years. He led future technology development at Samsung Electronics in the fields of quantum dot and neural processing from various leadership positions, including the head of the Semiconductor R&D Center, and the president of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT). President Chung is currently an advisor to SAIT, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology (PACST), and the chairman of the 2045 National Future Strategy Committee and the Nano Technology Research Association (NTRA). President Chung said, “KAIST, throughout its history of half a century, has been working tirelessly to become the world’s best, beyond being the best in Korea. We, the alumni of KAIST, have the commensurate duty as well as the privilege of being proud members of KAIST, as the university's global stature grows.” “Recently, 46 alumni made 535 million won in donations, and established a scholarship to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in members of the KAIST community. This fund was dedicated to supporting 30 alumni entrepreneurs and students participating in the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 that was held in Las Vegas last month. Moreover, another alumnus of ours Byeong-Gyu Chang, the CSO of the KRAFTON Inc., donated 10 billion won to KAIST in hopes of opening up more opportunities that may lead KAIST students to success. Mr. Chang’s donation is by far the largest that has been made by KAIST alumni. I feel grateful to see more alumni getting involved in shaping the future of KAIST these days, and my top priority as the new president of the KAA will be to stimulate the alumni association and engagement in the spirit of ‘Team KAIST’,” he added. More than 900 alumni, including President Sung-Chul Shin who is also an alumnus of KAIST, gathered in Seoul on January 18 to celebrate the New Year and the newly-elected leadership of the KAA. (END)
Rachmaninoff the most innovative of 18th and 19th century composers according to network science
Rachmaninoff, followed by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn, was the most innovative of the composers who worked during the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras of music (1700 to 1900) according to a study published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science. A team of researchers from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), calculated novelty scores for 900 classical piano compositions written by 19 composers between approximately 1700 and 1900. The scores were based on how musical compositions differed from all prior pieces of piano music and how they differed from previous piano works by the same composer. The authors found that composers from the Romantic era (1820 to 1910) tended to have high novelty scores. The authors from the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST created a computer model which divided each composition into segments called ‘codewords’. Each ‘codeword’ consisted of all of the notes played together at a given time. Sequences of ‘codewords’ were then compared between compositions. The similarities between the sequences were used to create novelty scores for each composer and to determine the extent to which composers influenced each other. Juyong Park, the corresponding author, said: “Our model allows us to calculate the degree of shared melodies and harmonies between past and future works and to observe the evolution of western musical styles by demonstrating how prominent composers may have influenced each other. The period of music we studied is widely credited for having produced many musical styles that are still influential today.” The model distinguished each new musical period from the one before it by the rise of newly dominant and highly influential composers that indicated dramatic shifts in musical styles. The authors found that compositions from the Classical period (1750 to 1820) tended to have the lowest novelty scores. During this period Haydn and Mozart were highly influential but were later overtaken by Beethoven during the Classical-to-Romantic transitional period. The most innovative composer, indicated by the highest combined novelty score, was Rachmaninoff. His work during the Romantic era was novel when compared to the compositions of the other 18 composers included in the study, and his later works were novel compared to his earlier works. Lower novelty did not necessarily correlate with low influence. Beethoven was ranked in the lower half of novelty scores yet was the most influential composer during the Romantic period (1820 to 1910) and is widely considered one of the greatest composers of all time. Dr. Park said: “While novelty is necessary in a creative work it cannot account for all the creative and artistic qualities that go into creating melodies and harmonies that spread to later generations of composers. That may be why being more novel did not necessarily result in composers being more influential.” The authors suggest that their method could be applied to narrative or visual artworks by creating codewords from groups of words or colours and shapes. However, they caution that as only piano compositions were included in their analysis, it is unknown whether including all works by the 19 composers would have resulted in another composer being identified as the most original. Profile: Prof. Juyong Park, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Graduate School of Culture Technology (CT) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea (END)
Cancer cell reversion may offer a new approach to colorectal cancer treatment
A novel approach to reverse the progression of healthy cells to malignant ones may offer a more effective way to eradicate colorectal cancer cells with far fewer side effects, according to a team of researchers based in South Korea. Colorectal cancer, or cancer of the colon, is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women worldwide. South Korea has the second highest incident rate of colorectal cancer in the world, topped only by Hungary, according to the World Cancer Research Fund. Their results were published as a featured cover article on January 2 in Molecular Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Led by Kwang-Hyun Cho, a professor and associate vice president of research at KAIST , the researchers used a computational framework to analyze healthy colon cells and colorectal cancer cells. They found that some master regulator proteins involved in cellular replication helped healthy colon cells mature, or differentiate into their specific cell type, and remain healthy. One particular protein, called SETDB1, suppressed the helpful proteins, forcing new cells to remain in a state of immaturity with the potential to become cancerous. “This suggests that differentiated cells have an inherent resistance mechanism against malignant transformation and indicates that cellular reprogramming is indispensable for malignancy,” said Cho. “We speculated that malignant properties might be eradicated if the tissue-specific gene expression is reinstated — if we repress SETDB1 and allow the colon cells to mature and differentiate as they would normally.” Image credit: Kwang-Hyun Cho, KAIST Image restriction: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Using human-derived cells, Cho and his team targeted the tissue-specific gene expression programs identified in their computational analysis. These are the blueprints for the proteins that eventually help immature cells differentiate into tissue-specific cell types, such as colon cells. When a person has a genetic mutation, or has exposure to certain environmental factors, this process can go awry, leading to an overexpression of unhelpful proteins, such as SEDTB1. The researchers specifically reduced the amount of SEDTB1 in these tissue-specific gene expression programs, which allowed the cells to mature and fully differentiate into colon cells. “Our experiment also shows that SETDB1 depletion combined with cytotoxic drugs might be potentially beneficial to anticancer treatment,” Cho said. Cytotoxic drugs are often used for cancer treatment because the type of medicine contains chemicals that are toxic to cancer cells which can prevent them from replicating or growing. He noted that this combination could be more effective in treating cancer by transforming the cancer cell state into a less malignant or resistant state. He eventually pursues a cancer reversion therapy alone instead of conventional cytotoxic drug therapy since the cancer reversion therapy can provide a much less painful experience for patients with cancer who often have severe side effects from treatments intended to kill off cancerous cells, such as chemotherapy. The researchers plan to continue studying how to return cancer cells to healthier states, with the ultimate goal of translating their work to therapeutic treatment for patients with colorectal cancer. “I think our study of cancer reversion would eventually change the current medical practice of treating cancer toward the direction of keeping the patient’s quality of life while minimizing the side effects of current anti-cancer therapies,” Cho said. ### This work was funded by KAIST and the National Research Foundation of Korea grants funded by the Korean government, the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology. Other authors include Soobeom Lee, Chae Young Hwang and Dongsan Kim, all of whom are affiliated with the Laboratory for Systems Biology and Bio-Inspired Engineering in the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering at KAIST; Chansu Lee and Sung Noh Hong, both with the Department of Medicine, and Seok-Hyung Kim of the Department of Pathology in the Samsung Medical Center at the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine. -Profile Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho email@example.com http://sbie.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Bio and Brain Engineering KAIST https://www.kaist.ac.kr
New Insights into How the Human Brain Solves Complex Decision-Making Problems
A new study on meta reinforcement learning algorithms helps us understand how the human brain learns to adapt to complexity and uncertainty when learning and making decisions. A research team, led by Professor Sang Wan Lee at KAIST jointly with John O’Doherty at Caltech, succeeded in discovering both a computational and neural mechanism for human meta reinforcement learning, opening up the possibility of porting key elements of human intelligence into artificial intelligence algorithms. This study provides a glimpse into how it might ultimately use computational models to reverse engineer human reinforcement learning. This work was published on Dec 16, 2019 in the journal Nature Communications. The title of the paper is “Task complexity interacts with state-space uncertainty in the arbitration between model-based and model-free learning.” Human reinforcement learning is an inherently complex and dynamic process, involving goal setting, strategy choice, action selection, strategy modification, cognitive resource allocation etc. This a very challenging problem for humans to solve owing to the rapidly changing and multifaced environment in which humans have to operate. To make matters worse, humans often need to often rapidly make important decisions even before getting the opportunity to collect a lot of information, unlike the case when using deep learning methods to model learning and decision-making in artificial intelligence applications. In order to solve this problem, the research team used a technique called 'reinforcement learning theory-based experiment design' to optimize the three variables of the two-stage Markov decision task - goal, task complexity, and task uncertainty. This experimental design technique allowed the team not only to control confounding factors, but also to create a situation similar to that which occurs in actual human problem solving. Secondly, the team used a technique called ‘model-based neuroimaging analysis.’ Based on the acquired behavior and fMRI data, more than 100 different types of meta reinforcement learning algorithms were pitted against each other to find a computational model that can explain both behavioral and neural data. Thirdly, for the sake of a more rigorous verification, the team applied an analytical method called ‘parameter recovery analysis,’ which involves high-precision behavioral profiling of both human subjects and computational models. In this way, the team was able to accurately identify a computational model of meta reinforcement learning, ensuring not only that the model’s apparent behavior is similar to that of humans, but also that the model solves the problem in the same way as humans do. The team found that people tended to increase planning-based reinforcement learning (called model-based control), in response to increasing task complexity. However, they resorted to a simpler, more resource efficient strategy called model-free control, when both uncertainty and task complexity were high. This suggests that both the task uncertainty and the task complexity interact during the meta control of reinforcement learning. Computational fMRI analyses revealed that task complexity interacts with neural representations of the reliability of the learning strategies in the inferior prefrontal cortex. These findings significantly advance understanding of the nature of the computations being implemented in the inferior prefrontal cortex during meta reinforcement learning as well as providing insight into the more general question of how the brain resolves uncertainty and complexity in a dynamically changing environment. Identifying the key computational variables that drive prefrontal meta reinforcement learning, can also inform understanding of how this process might be vulnerable to break down in certain psychiatric disorders such as depression and OCD. Furthermore, gaining a computational understanding of how this process can sometimes lead to increased model-free control, can provide insights into how under some situations task performance might break down under conditions of high cognitive load. Professor Lee said, “This study will be of enormous interest to researchers in both the artificial intelligence and human/computer interaction fields since this holds significant potential for applying core insights gleaned into how human intelligence works with AI algorithms.” This work was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Ministry of Science and ICT, Samsung Research Funding Center of Samsung Electronics. Figure 1 (modified from the figures of the original paper doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13632-1). Computations implemented in the inferior prefrontal cortex during meta reinforcement learning. (A) Computational model of human prefrontal meta reinforcement learning (left) and the brain areas whose neural activity patterns are explained by the latent variables of the model. (B) Examples of behavioral profiles. Shown on the left is choice bias for different goal types and on the right is choice optimality for task complexity and uncertainty. (C) Parameter recoverability analysis. Compared are the effect of task uncertainty (left) and task complexity (right) on choice optimality. -Profile Professor Sang Wan Lee firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Bio and Brain Engineering Director, KAIST Center for Neuroscience-inspired AI KAIST Institute for Artificial Intelligence (http://aibrain.kaist.ac.kr) KAIST Institute for Health, Science, and Technology KAIST (https://www.kaist.ac.kr)
KAIST Vaccine for Tick-Borne Disease ‘SFTS’ Protects Against Lethal Infection
A KAIST research team reported the development of a DNA vaccine for Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus (SFTSV) which completely protects against lethal infection in ferrets. The team confirmed that ferrets immunized with DNA vaccines encoding all SFTSV proteins showed 100% survival rate without detectable viremia and did not develop any clinical symptoms. This study was published in Nature Communications on August 23. Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) is a newly emerging tick-borne infectious disease. The disease causes fever, severe thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia as well as vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases end up with organ system failure often accompanied by hemorrhages, and its mortality rate stands at 10–20%. The viral disease has been endemic to East Asia but the spread of the tick vector to North America increases the likelihood of potential outbreak beyond the Far East Asia. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also put SFTSV into the priority pathogen requiring urgent attention category. Currently, no vaccine has been available to prevent SFTS. The research team led by Professor Su-Hyung Park noted that DNA vaccines induce broader immunity to multiple antigens than traditional ones. Moreover, DNA vaccines stimulate both T cell and antibody immunity, which make them suitable for vaccine development. They constructed DNA vaccines that encode full-length Gn, Gc, N, NS, and RNA polymerase genes based on common sequences of 31 SFTSV strains isolated from patients. Their vaccine candidates induced both neutralizing antibody response and multifunctional SFTSV-specific T cell response in mice and ferrets. To investigate the vaccine’s efficacy in vivo, the research team applied a recently developed ferret model that recapitulates fatal clinical symptoms in SFTSV infection in humans. Vaccinated ferrets were completely protected from lethal SFTSV challenge without SFTSV detection in their blood, whereas all control ferrets died within 10 days’ post-infection. The KAIST team found that anti-envelope antibodies play an important role in protective immunity, suggesting that envelope glycoproteins of SFTSV may be the most effective antigens for inducing protective immunity. Moreover, the study revealed that T cell responses specific to non-envelope proteins of SFTSV also can contribute to protection against SFTSV infection. Professor Park said, “This is the first study demonstrating complete protection against lethal SFTSV challenge using an immunocompetent, middle-sized animal model with clinical manifestations of SFTSV infection. We believe this study provides valuable insights into designing preventive vaccines for SFTSV.”
Transformative Electronics Systems to Broaden Wearable Applications
Imagine a handheld electronic gadget that can soften and deform when attached to our skin. This will be the future of electronics we all dreamed of. A research team at KAIST says their new platform called 'Transformative Electronics Systems' will open a new class of electronics, allowing reconfigurable electronic interfaces to be optimized for a variety of applications. A team working under Professor Jae-Woong Jeong from the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST has invented a multifunctional electronic platform that can mechanically transform its shape, flexibility, and stretchability. This platform, which was reported in Science Advances, allows users to seamlessly and precisely tune its stiffness and shape. "This new class of electronics will not only offer robust, convenient interfaces for use in both tabletop or handheld setups, but also allow seamless integration with the skin when applied onto our bodies," said Professor Jeong. The transformative electronics consist of a special gallium metal structure, hermetically encapsulated and sealed within a soft silicone material, combined with electronics that are designed to be flexible and stretchable. The mechanical transformation of the electronic systems is specifically triggered by temperature change events controlled by the user. "Gallium is an interesting key material. It is biocompatible, has high rigidity in solid form, and melts at a temperature comparable to the skin's temperature," said lead author Sang-Hyuk Byun, a researcher at KAIST. Once the transformative electronic platform comes in contact with a human body, the gallium metal encapsulated inside the silicone changes to a liquid state and softens the whole electronic structure, making it stretchable, flexible, and wearable. The gallium metal then solidifies again once the structure is peeled off the skin, making the electronic circuits stiff and stable. When flexible electronic circuits were integrated onto these transformative platforms, it empowered them with the ability to become either flexible and stretchable or rigid. "This technology could not have been achieved without interdisciplinary efforts," said co-lead author Joo Yong Sim, who is a researcher with ETRI. "We worked together with electrical, mechanical, and biomedical engineers, as well as material scientists and neuroscientists to make this breakthrough." This universal electronics platform allowed researchers to demonstrate applications that were highly adaptable and customizable, such as a multi-purpose personal electronics with variable stiffness and stretchability, a pressure sensor with tuneable bandwidth and sensitivity, and a neural probe that softens upon implantation into brain tissue. Applicable for both traditional and emerging electronics technologies, this breakthrough can potentially reshape the consumer electronics industry, especially in the biomedical and robotic domains. The researchers believe that with further development, this novel electronics technology can significantly impact the way we use electronics in our daily life. < Transformative electronics in soft mode,which becomes wearable for outdoor applications.> Video Material: https://youtu.be/im0J18TfShk Publication: Sang-Hyuk Byun, Joo Yong Sim, Zhanan Zhou, Juhyun Lee, Raza Qazi, Marie C. Walicki, Kyle E. Parker, Matthew P. Haney, Su Hwan Choi, Ahnsei Shon, Graydon B. Gereau, John Bilbily, Shuo Li, Yuhao Liu, Woon-Hong Yeo, Jordan G. McCall, Jianliang Xiao, and Jae-Woong Jeong. 2019. Mechanically transformative electronics, sensors, and implantable devices. Science Advances. Volume 5. No. 11. 12 pages. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aay0418 Link to download the full-text paper: https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/5/11/eaay0418.full.pdf Profile: Prof. Jae-Woong Jeong, PhD email@example.com https://www.jeongresearch.org/ Professor Bio-Integrated Electronics and Systems Laboratory School of Electrical Engineering Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) https://www.kaist.ac.kr Daejeon 34141, Korea Profile: Sang-Hyuk Byun, PhD Candidate firstname.lastname@example.org (END)
Professor Youngseok Ju Awarded the 13th ASAN Award for Young Medical Scientists
Professor Youngseok Ju from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering was selected for the 13th ASAN Award for Young Medical Scientists under the age of 40. Professor Ju will receive 50 million won in prize money. The ASAN Foundation established this Award in 2007 to encourage young medical scientists who accomplished outstanding achievements in basic and clinical medicine. The winners are chosen based on a comprehensive assessment of consistency and originality, domestic and international impact, and contributions to medical development and fostering future generations. Professor Ju is known for having identified the generation principle of cancer genome mutations. In particular, he is recognized for his contributions to the development of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, by having proven that some cases of lung cancer can occur from destructive changes in chromosomes in lung cells regardless of smoking. The award ceremony will be held on March 19 in Seoul. The other award will be given to Professor Yong-Ho Lee from the Yonsei University College of Medicine.
Distinguished Alumni Awardees 2019
The KAIST Alumni Association (KAA) announced four recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards for the year 2019. The awards ceremony took place during the New Year Alumni Reception on January 18, 2020 in Seoul. The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize graduates who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their professional and personal lives, and who have been an inspiration to fellow alumni and students in Korea and around the globe. The four distinguished alumni of the year 2019 are listed below. Myung Joon Kim (School of Computing, M.S., Class of ’78), the President of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), is a renowned expert in software engineering who has served as the president of the Administration Division and ICT Creative Research Laboratory of ETRI. His research and leadership have contributed to fortifying the nation’s IT and electronic industry competitiveness. Dong Ryeol Shin (School of Electrical Engineering, M.S., Class of ’80), the President of Sungkyunkwan University, is a well-versed expert experienced in both academia and industry. He suggested many creative interdisciplinary educational policies and innovative education programs to lead the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and fostered talents who will go on to be the foundation of national development. Dong-Myun Lee (School of Electrical Engineering, M.S., Class of ’85, Ph.D., Class of ‘87), the CTO and the head of the Institute of Convergence Technology in KT Corporation, is a creative and practical research innovator. He raised the nation’s competitiveness by leading the development of the high-speed communication network industry and the global expansion of next-generation technology business. Chang Han Kim (School of Computing, B.S., Class of ’92, M.S., Class of ’97, Ph.D., Class of ’98), the CEO of PUBG Corporation, has contributed greatly to the development of the IT contents industry. He developed PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a game that has become a global sensation. Since the establishment of the award in 1992, a total of 103 alumni at home and abroad have been honored as recipients, and brought distinction to the university. These recipients are playing major roles in society, and some of the notable awardees include: KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin (2010), Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Ki-Nam Kim (2012), Nexon Chairman Jung-Ju Kim (2007), and the former Science and Technology Advisor to the President Kong-Joo Lee (2005). The President of KAA and the CEO of Inbody Co Ltd., Ki-Chul Cha, said, “The Distinguished Alumni Awards are honor given to the alumni who contributed to the development of the nation and society, and raised the name of their alma mater.” He added, “We can tell the proud position of KAIST in the global arena just by looking at the accomplishments of the previous awardees.” (END)
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