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'Scientist-Engineer of the Month' for December: Professor Choi Joon Ho
Professor Choi Joon Ho (department of Biological Sciences) was made ‘Scientist-Engineer of December’ for his discovery of new gene (twenty-four) that helps biorhythm and proving that this gene helps control biorhythm. Professor Choi published 100 dissertations over the past 25 years and made significant advancements in the field of molecular virus and neurobiology. In 1995 Professor Choi uncovered the fact that the NS3 protein in C type hepatitis function as RNA helicase thereby opening the path to developing a cure for C type hepatitis; this is an international patent with Chiron corporation. The result was published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Journal and was the most domestically referred to dissertation in biological sciences in 1999. In addition Professor Choi published in Nature magazine in 1999, a dissertation that uncovered the fact that the DNA of papillomar virus has another protein (hSNF5) that direct it apart from ordinary proteins. In 2000~2005 Professor Choi published many dissertations in journals like Immunity, Cancer Research, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Oncogene, Journal of Virology, and etc. Professor Choi screened over 10,000 species of pomace fly mutations and discovered the twenty-four gene that affects the biorhythm of pomace flies. He analyzed this gene further and found a new function that was different from known biorhythm mechanisms. This research allowed a better understanding of biological clock of pomace flies and therefore was another step towards better understanding the control mechanism of human biological clock.
Biomimetic Carbon Nanotube Fiber Synthesis Technology Developed
The byssus of the mussel allows it to live in harsh conditions where it is constantly battered by crashing waves by allowing the mussel to latch onto the seaside rocks. This particular characteristic of the mussel is due to the unique structure and high adhesiveness of the mussel’s byssus. KAIST’s Professor Hong Soon Hyung (Department of Material Science and Engineering) and Professor Lee Hae Shin (Department of Chemistry) and the late Professor Park Tae Kwan (Department of Bio Engineering) were able to reproduce the mussel’s byssus using carbon nanotubes. The carbon nanotube, since its discovery in 1991, was regarded as the next generation material due to its electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties. However due to its short length of several nanometers, its industrial use was limited. The KAIST research team referred to the structure of the byssus of the mussel to solve this problem. The byssus is composed of collagen fibers and Mefp-1 protein which are in a cross-linking structure. The Mefp-1 protein has catecholamine that allows it to bind strongly with the collagen fiber. In the artificial structure, the carbon nanotube took on the role of the collagen fibers and the macromolecular adhesive took on the role of the catecholamine. The result was a fiber that was ultra-light and ultra-strong. The results of the experiment were published in the Advanced Materials magazine and is patent registered both domestically and internationally.
Research Conducted on the Development Policy of Medical Researchers in United States
The topic dealt in the paper was “The Vietnam War and Medical Research: Untold Legacy of the U.S. Doctor Draft and the NIH ‘Yellow Berets’” and basically deals how a Doctor Draft made a positive impact on improving the basic research of clinical medicine. Professor Park received his Doctorate at Johns Hopkins University and came to KAIST in 2007. Summary of Dissertation From the start of the Korean War in 1950 to the end of the Vietnam War in 1973 a large number of medical school graduates were drafted to the army. Of those drafted, 100 personnel were chosen annually to focus on researching in the National Institute of Health who developed into leaders of the field. For example, those who worked as a researcher at the National Institute instead of their armed services were 1.5 times more likely to become a tenured professor, 2 times more likely to be promoted to Dean of the department, and 3 times more likely to be the Dean. In addition, 9 out of 50 Nobel Prize winners in fields of natural sciences between 1985 and 2007 were from the same pool of researchers, and 10 out of 76 recipients of National Medal of Science were also from the same pool of researchers. They were named the ‘Yellow Berets’ like the special forces ‘Green Berets’ and made great contribution to the field in implementing and executing the bench to beside culture that involves development in laboratories to clinical testing. Professor Park maintains that there has to be improvements made in current policies to encourage research work in medical graduate schools.
Genetic Cause of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) Found
The cooperative research team consisting research teams under Professor Kim Eun Joon and Professor Kang Chang Won of the department of Biological Sciences discovered that ADHD arises from the deficiency of GIT1 protein in the brain’s neural synapses. ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is found in around 5% of children around the world and is a disorder where the child becomes unable to concentrate, show over the top responses, and display impulsive behavior. The research team found that the difference between children with ADHD and those without it is one base in the GIT1 gene. The difference of a single base causes the underproduction of this protein, and those children with low levels of the protein had a higher probability to develop ADHD. In addition, further evidence was provided when the research team conducted mice experiments. Those mice with low levels of GIT1 exhibited impulsive and exaggerated reactions like humans with ADHD, had learning disabilities, and produced abnormal brain waves. And upon injecting these mice with cure for ADHD, the symptoms of ADHD disappeared. The impulsive behavior of ADHD children disappears as the child enters adulthood and a similar pattern was found in mice. A mice with low levels of GIT1 showed impulsive behaviors when 2 months old, but these behaviors disappeared as it got older to around 7 months old (equivalent to 20~30 years old for humans). Professor Kim Eun Joon commented that there has to be equilibrium between mechanisms that excite the neurons and mechanisms that calm the neurons, but the lack of GIT1 leads to the decrease in the mechanisms that calm the neurons which causes the impulsive behavior of ADHD patients. In addition, Professor Kang Chang Won commented that the results of the experiment has been receiving rave reviews and is being seen as the new method in the production of the cure for ADHD. The result of the experiment was published in the online edition of Nature Medicine magazine.
Professor Ko Kyu Young Appointed as a Distinguished Professor at KAIST
Professor Ko Kyu Young of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences was appointed as the Distinguished Professor at KAIST. Professor Ko is famous internationally for his work on the catalyst for blood vessel growth COMP-ANG1, and also for his research on blood vessel growth and lymph duct growth control. Professor Ko developed the Double Anti-Angiogenic Protein (DAAP) which effectively restricts the blood vessels from growing, opening a new approach to curing caner. The paper was published in ‘Cancer Cell’ as the cover paper (2010 August 17th edition) and is widely recognized as the marker that sums up the new paradigm of cure for cancer. In addition, his work on explaining how the new antigen interacts with the T-lymphocyte during a vaccination lead to the possibility of the increase of the efficiency of vaccination. The result of the research was published as the cover paper in ‘Immunity’ magazine. As is obvious to see his work with blood vessel growth and lymph duct growth and control is being published in major scientific journals. In addition he is continuously invited to international conferences as guest speakers and leader, effectively leading the field. As a result, he was appointed as the editor of ‘Blood’ magazine, the world’s best journal in the field of hematology and received ‘2010 KAISTian of the Year’ Award. The title Distinguished Professor is appointed to those who have made world-class research results and educational results and actively lead their respective field. They are provided with extra incentives and can even continue on with the professorship after retirement. It is only limited to 3% of the professors at KAIST and has to be someone recommended by the President, Vice-President, and the Deans of department and their worthiness is scrutinized by a foreign expert.
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.
College of Cultural Science selects 'Best English Paper' Recipients
KAIST’s College of Cultural Science (Dean Kim Dong Won) announced the winners of ‘2010 Fall Semester Best English Paper Award’: Excellence Award went to Kwak Ah Young (department of Biology), Seong Du Hyun (undeclared major), Ahn Da In (Biological Chemical Engineering), and nine other students received the Participation Award. Ahn Da In discussed ‘Joyce and Chopin on use of epiphany’, Seong Du Hyun discussed ‘On Kant’s Groundwork for the metaphysics of Morals, its Achievements, and Implications’, and Kwak Ah Young discussed ‘Fact Pattern of Environmental Law’. The ‘Best English Paper’ Award has been awarded to undergraduates since 2009 Fall semester in the Humanities and Social Science Department’s efforts to increase creativity and English writing skills of students attending KAIST. For the 2010 fall semester, each professor in charge went through 1 to 2 papers (among 610 papers admitted across human science subjects) and recommended 29 papers to be discussed with great scrutiny. The evaluation took place throughout January and the 3 papers discussing English Literature, Scientific Philosophy, and Environmental Law were awarded the Excellence Award, and 9 other papers were awarded the Participation Award. Dean of Cultural Science College Kim Dong Won commented, ‘I am very encouraged by the level of papers and is becoming a very large art of the College of Cultural Science’. The chairman of the screening committee, Professor Kim Eun Kyung also commented, ‘the best paper award is helping students better their English levels’ and that ‘in order to form and encourage a sound and structured English paper writing environment, a anti-plagiarism program will be implemented amongst implementing other judging standards’.
The 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of KAIST Commemoration Held
KAIST, aspiring to become the best Science and Technology University, has turned 40. KAIST held the commemoration ceremony for the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of KAIST in the auditorium. Five awards (Scholar, Creative Lecture, Excellence in Lecture, International Cooperation, Experiment) were given to Professors Kim Eun Jun and Walton Jones (department of Biology), Professor Abigail Shin (department of Humanities and Social Sciences), Professor Shin Seong Chul (department of Physics), and Professor Lee Sang Yeop (department of Biological Chemical Engineering). Each recipient received a prize of five million won. Professor Song Joon Hwa (department of Computer Sciences) received the ‘New Knowledge Award’ in recognition of his development of the Orchestrator Mobile platform. The new platform is different from Android or the IOS platform in that it allows a fluid relationship to be formed between the smartphone and the user. KAIST also showed off its new emblem. The emblem consists of a star which represents the KAIST’s goals of becoming the world leader, of training leaders, the center point, and hope. The main keywords are: ‘Leadership’, ‘Premium’, ‘Scientific’, and ‘Humanity’. KAIST plans on having various events from May 9th when there will be the Vision Declaration.
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.
KAIST was invited to the World Economic Forum's fourth "Summer Davos."
KAIST attended the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos Forum” held from September 13 to 15 in Tianjin, China. The Summer Davos Forum hosted various sessions and meetings with international dignitaries from governments, business and public organizations, and academia on the main theme of “Driving Growth through Sustainability.” On September 14, four subjects including “Electric Vehicles,” “Humanoid Robotics,” “Next Generation of Biomaterials,” and “New Developments in Neuroengineering” were presented by KAIST, followed by discussions with forum participants. Professor Jae-Seung Jeong of the Bio and Brain Engineering Department, Sang-Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, Joon-Ho Oh of the Mechanical Engineering Department, and President Nam-Pyo Suh participated in the forum as presenters of the topic. Of these speakers, Professors Jae-Seung Jeong and Sang-Yup Lee were nominated by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as members of the “Young Global Leader” and “Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies,” respectively. President Suh was also invited to the CEO Insight Group and delivered an opening speech on OLEV (Online Electric Vehicle) and the Mobile Harbor. President Suh plans to sign an MOU for research cooperation with Jong-Hoo Kim of Bell Lab and Shirley Jackson of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the near future, respectively. Since 2007, the WEF, in charge of the world’s largest international conference called “Davos Forum” has hosted a “Summer Davos Forum,” also called as the “Annual Meeting of New Champions.” The Summer Davos Forum consists of nations, rising global companies, next generation of global leaders, and cities or nations that lead technological innovations. Unlike the annual Davos Forum held in January, the “Annual Meeting of New Champions” is held in September of each year in Tianjin and Dalian, China. Since 2009, the WEF has added a special session called IdeasLab in the Davos and Summer Davos Forums. Through IdeasLab, prominent universities from all over the world, research organizations, venture businesses, NGOs, and NPOs are invited to exchange and discuss innovative and creative ideas that can contribute to the development of mankind. Until now, universities including INSEAD, EPFL-ETH, MIT, Oxford, Yale, Harvard, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tsinghua University, and Keio University have been invited to the IdeasLab. KAIST is the first Korean university to attend this session.
An internationally renowned academic journal published the research result produced by a KAST research team on its cover.
Fc DAAP VEGF-Trap Photograph showing the gross features of tumor growth along the mesentery-intestinal border. T: tumor. Scale bars represent 5 mm. Professor Gou-Young Koh of the Biological Sciences Department, KAIST, and his research team published their research result in Cancer Cell, a peer-review scientific journal, as a cover article dated August 17, 2010. It is the first time for the journal to pick up a paper written by a Korean research team and publish it as the cover. It has been known that a vascular growth factor (VEGF) is closely related to the growth of a tumor. The research team recently discovered that in addition to VEGF, another growth factor, angiopoietin-2 (Ang2), is also engaged with the increase of tumors. Professor Koh said, “VEGF and the angiopoietins play critical roles in tumor progression and metastasis, and a single inhibitor targeting both factors have not been available.” The team led by Professor Koh has developed a double anti-angiogenic protein (DAAP) that can simultaneously bind VEGF-A and the angiopoietins and block their actions. Professor Koh said in his paper, “DAAP is a highly effective molecule for regressing tumor angiogenesis and metastasis in implanted and spontaneous solid tumor; it can also effectively reduce ascites formation and vascular leakage in an ovarian carcinoma model. Thus, simultaneous blockade of VEGF-A and angiopoietins with DAAP is an effective therapeutic strategy for blocking tumor angiogenesis, metastasis, and vascular leakage.” So far, cancer patients have received Avastin, anticancer drug, to inhibit VEGF, but the drug has not successfully restrained the growth of cancer tumors and brought to some of the patients with serious side effects instead. Professor Koh said, “DAAP will be very effective to control the expansion of tumor growth factors, which will open up a new possibility for the development of more helpful cancer medicine with low side effects.”
KAIST Research Team Identified Promising New Source to Obtain Stem Cells
KAIST Research Team Identified Promising New Source to Obtain Stem Cells A research team at KAIST led by Professor Gou-Young Koh, M.D. and Ph.D., of the Department of Biological Sciences, has found evidence that fat tissue, known as adipose tissue, may be a promising new source of valuable and easy-to-obtain regenerative cells called hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). HSPCs are adult stem cells that have the ability to generate and develop into many different kinds of cells. They are now used to repair damaged tissues and are being studied for their potential to treat a vast array of chronic and degenerative conditions such as leukemia. Mostly found in bone marrow but with a limited quantity, HSPCs are hard to cultivate in vitro, thus becoming an obstacle to use them for research and therapeutic purposes. Within the adipose tissue is a special cell population known as the stromal vascular fraction (SVF), which share similar properties to those in the bone marrow. Cells in the bone marrow and SVF have the ability to differentiate into several cell types. In addition, both adipose and bone marrow offer similar environments for optimal stem cell growth and reproduction. Given the fact that adipose and bone marrow tissues share similar properties, Dr. Koh and his team conducted a research, injecting granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), a growth hormone used to encourage the development of stem cells, into an adipose tissue of a mouse whose bone marrow is damaged. As a result, the team has found that the SVF derived from adipose tissue contains functional HSPCs capable of generating hematopoietic (blood-forming) cells to repair the damaged bone morrow. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology nominated the KAIST research as one of its sponsoring 21st Century Frontier R&D Programs. Director Dong-Wook Kim of Stem Cell Research Center (SCRS) that oversees the KAIST team expressed a possibility to use the adipose tissue as an alternative source to obtain stem cells for regeneration medicine. Dr. Koh also said, “It’s been a well known method to extract HSPCs from the bone morrow or blood, but it’s the first time to identify adipose tissue, before considered useless, as a new possible supplier for functional and transplantable HSPCs.” The study results have received an important recognition from the academia—the American Society of Hematology published the research as a main article in its official journal, Blood, for the February 4th, 2010 issue, which is the most citied peer-reviewed publication in the field.
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