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Interactive Map of Metabolical Synthesis of Chemicals
An interactive map that compiled the chemicals produced by biological, chemical and combined reactions has been distributed on the web - A team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, organized and distributed an all-inclusive listing of chemical substances that can be synthesized using microorganisms - It is expected to be used by researchers around the world as it enables easy assessment of the synthetic pathway through the web. A research team comprised of Woo Dae Jang, Gi Bae Kim, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST reported an interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals. Their research paper “An interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals” was published online in Trends in Biotechnology on August 10, 2022. As a response to rapid climate change and environmental pollution, research on the production of petrochemical products using microorganisms is receiving attention as a sustainable alternative to existing methods of productions. In order to synthesize various chemical substances, materials, and fuel using microorganisms, it is necessary to first construct the biosynthetic pathway toward desired product by exploration and discovery and introduce them into microorganisms. In addition, in order to efficiently synthesize various chemical substances, it is sometimes necessary to employ chemical methods along with bioengineering methods using microorganisms at the same time. For the production of non-native chemicals, novel pathways are designed by recruiting enzymes from heterologous sources or employing enzymes designed though rational engineering, directed evolution, or ab initio design. The research team had completed a map of chemicals which compiled all available pathways of biological and/or chemical reactions that lead to the production of various bio-based chemicals back in 2019 and published the map in Nature Catalysis. The map was distributed in the form of a poster to industries and academia so that the synthesis paths of bio-based chemicals could be checked at a glance. The research team has expanded the bio-based chemicals map this time in the form of an interactive map on the web so that anyone with internet access can quickly explore efficient paths to synthesize desired products. The web-based map provides interactive visual tools to allow interactive visualization, exploration, and analysis of complex networks of biological and/or chemical reactions toward the desired products. In addition, the reported paper also discusses the production of natural compounds that are used for diverse purposes such as food and medicine, which will help designing novel pathways through similar approaches or by exploiting the promiscuity of enzymes described in the map. The published bio-based chemicals map is also available at http://systemsbiotech.co.kr. The co-first authors, Dr. Woo Dae Jang and Ph.D. student Gi Bae Kim, said, “We conducted this study to address the demand for updating the previously distributed chemicals map and enhancing its versatility.” “The map is expected to be utilized in a variety of research and in efforts to set strategies and prospects for chemical production incorporating bio and chemical methods that are detailed in the map.” Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “The interactive bio-based chemicals map is expected to help design and optimization of the metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of target chemicals together with the strategies of chemical conversions, serving as a blueprint for developing further ideas on the production of desired chemicals through biological and/or chemical reactions.” The interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals.
Metabolically Engineered Bacterium Produces Lutein
A research group at KAIST has engineered a bacterial strain capable of producing lutein. The research team applied systems metabolic engineering strategies, including substrate channeling and electron channeling, to enhance the production of lutein in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. The strategies will be also useful for the efficient production of other industrially important natural products used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Figure: Systems metabolic engineering was employed to construct and optimize the metabolic pathways for lutein production, and substrate channeling and electron channeling strategies were additionally employed to increase the production of the lutein with high productivity. Lutein is classified as a xanthophyll chemical that is abundant in egg yolk, fruits, and vegetables. It protects the eye from oxidative damage from radiation and reduces the risk of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. Commercialized products featuring lutein are derived from the extracts of the marigold flower, which is known to harbor abundant amounts of lutein. However, the drawback of lutein production from nature is that it takes a long time to grow and harvest marigold flowers. Furthermore, it requires additional physical and chemical-based extractions with a low yield, which makes it economically unfeasible in terms of productivity. The high cost and low yield of these bioprocesses has made it difficult to readily meet the demand for lutein. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineers at KAIST, including researchers Dr. Seon Young Park, Ph.D. Candidate Hyunmin Eun, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team’s study entitled “Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli with electron channeling for the production of natural products” was published in Nature Catalysis on August 5, 2022. This research details the ability to produce lutein from E. coli with a high yield using a cheap carbon source, glycerol, via systems metabolic engineering. The research group focused on solving the bottlenecks of the biosynthetic pathway for lutein production constructed within an individual cell. First, using systems metabolic engineering, which is an integrated technology to engineer the metabolism of a microorganism, lutein was produced when the lutein biosynthesis pathway was introduced, albeit in very small amounts. To improve the productivity of lutein production, the bottleneck enzymes within the metabolic pathway were first identified. It turned out that metabolic reactions that involve a promiscuous enzyme, an enzyme that is involved in two or more metabolic reactions, and electron-requiring cytochrome P450 enzymes are the main bottleneck steps of the pathway inhibiting lutein biosynthesis. To overcome these challenges, substrate channeling, a strategy to artificially recruit enzymes in physical proximity within the cell in order to increase the local concentrations of substrates that can be converted into products, was employed to channel more metabolic flux towards the target chemical while reducing the formation of unwanted byproducts. Furthermore, electron channeling, a strategy similar to substrate channeling but differing in terms of increasing the local concentrations of electrons required for oxidoreduction reactions mediated by P450 and its reductase partners, was applied to further streamline the metabolic flux towards lutein biosynthesis, which led to the highest titer of lutein production achieved in a bacterial host ever reported. The same electron channeling strategy was successfully applied for the production of other natural products including nootkatone and apigenin in E. coli, showcasing the general applicability of the strategy in the research field. “It is expected that this microbial cell factory-based production of lutein will be able to replace the current plant extraction-based process,” said Dr. Seon Young Park, the first author of the paper. She explained that another important point of the research is that integrated metabolic engineering strategies developed from this study can be generally applicable for the efficient production of other natural products useful as pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals. “As maintaining good health in an aging society is becoming increasingly important, we expect that the technology and strategies developed here will play pivotal roles in producing other valuable natural products of medical or nutritional importance,” explained Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development funded by the Rural Development Administration of Korea, with further support from the Development of Next-generation Biorefinery Platform Technologies for Leading Bio-based Chemicals Industry Project and by the Development of Platform Technologies of Microbial Cell Factories for the Next-generation Biorefineries Project of the National Research Foundation funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea.
Three Professors Named to Highly Cited Researchers 2020 List
Distinguished Professor Sukbok Chang from the Department of Chemistry, Distinguished Professor Sang-Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Professor Jiyong Eom from the College of Business were named to Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers 2020 list. Clarivate announced the researchers who rank in the top 1% of citations by field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index. A total of 6,167 researchers from more than 60 countries were listed this year and 37 Korean scholars made the list. The methodology that determines the “Who’s Who” of influential researchers draws on data and analyses performed by bibliometric experts and data scientists at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate. It also uses the tallies to identify the countries and research institutions where these scientific elite are based. More than 6,000 researchers from 21 fields in the sciences, social sciences, and cross field categories were selected based on the number of highly cited papers they produced over an 11-year period from January 2009 to December 2019. Professor Chang made the list six years in a row, while Professor Lee made it for four consecutive years, and Professor Eom for the last two years. Professor Chang’s group (http://sbchang.kaist.ac.kr) investigates catalytic hydrocarbon functionalization. Professor Lee (http://mbel.kaist.ac.kr) is a pioneering scholar in the field of metabolic engineering, systems, and synthetic biology. Professor Eom’s (https://kaistceps.quv.kr) research extends to energy and environmental economics and management, energy big data, and green information systems.
Former Minister of Science and Technology Woo Sik Kim Elected as New Chairman of Board of Trustees
Dr. Woo Sik Kim, former Minister of Science and Technology and Deputy Prime Minister, was elected as the new chairman of the KAIST Board of Trustees on March 26. Dr. Kim will succeed Chairman Jang-Mu Lee, whose three-year term expired last month. Dr. Kim is a chemical engineering professor who spent most of his academic career at Yonsei University from 1968. In 2000, he held the office of president of Yonsei University for four years before moving to the Presidential Office of President Roh Moo-Hyun as his chief of staff in 2004. After serving in the Blue House for two years, he served as the Minister of Science and Technology from 2006 to 2008. An emeritus fellow of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea (NAEK), Chairman Kim also taught at KAIST as an invited distinguished professor from 2008 to 2010. He is currently the chairman of the Creativity Engineering Institute (CEI). (END)
Distinguished Professor Lee Named International Fellow of the CAS
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST was awarded the title of distinguished professor and international fellow from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and honorary professor from its affiliated organization the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology (TIB). The CAS recognized Distinguished Professor Lee for his significant contributions to biotechnology. He has made significant pioneering academic achievements in the area of systems metabolic engineering, which produces useful chemicals from microorganisms. Not only did he develop the first and best source technology in that field, but also came out with processes for the production of biofuel and environmentally-friendly chemicals.” As a global leader in systems metabolic engineering, Distinguished Professor Lee has also been appointed as an honorary professor at Jiangnan University in Wuxi, China. Distinguished Professor Lee was listed in the ‘Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2014’ selected by the renowned international journal Nature Biotechnology. Moreover, he was the first Asian recipient of the James E. Bailey Award in 2016 and Marvin J. Johnson Award in 2012, which are given to scholars in the field of biotechnology. He is also one of 13 global scientists who are foreign members of the renowned academic societies the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences in the US. Furthermore, he received the ‘2017 Korea Best Scientist Award’ from the president of Korea in July. Finally, his founding field, systems metabolic engineering, was chosen as one of the ‘Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2016’ by the World Economic Forum. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, established in November 1949, is an academic organization that carries out research on basic sciences and natural sciences in China. It defined its science and technology system to include the fields of basic sciences, natural sciences, and high technology. While having a base in Beijing, its branch academies are located in 12 main cities along with 117 affiliates and 100 national key labs.
Professor Suk-Joo Na Invited to Finland as Distinguished Professor
Professor Suk-Joo Na, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST, has been invited as a distinguished professor for an international research project in Finland. As a leading scientist in the field of arc welding and numerical analysis of the laser welding process, Na will assemble a research group for the interpretation of the welding processes for three years at the VVT Technical Research Centre of Finland beginning in January of 2014. The project was established to improve the research level and national competitiveness of Finland by inviting leading international scientists to the National Technology Agency of Finland and Academy of Finland since 2006 and over one hundred projects have been carried out thus far. A total of 17 billion won will be invested for the eleven new projects selected this year. Professor Na said, “The fusion welding field contains important technology for improving the competitiveness of mechanical products of Finland. Improvements in productivity, the life cycles of products, and energy saving through interpretation technology for the numerical analysis of the welding process will make a huge impact on the national economy of Finland.”
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.
KAIST Names Three Distinguished Professors
KAIST Names Three Distinguished Professors - Three professors having achieved world’s distinguished research and education performances- Special incentives and non full-time position after retirement age to be offered KAIST (President Nam-Pyo Suh) has named three Distinguished Professors, the most honorable positions in KAIST, for the first time in its history. The three professors are Choong-Ki Kim, Dep. of Computer Science, Sang-Yup Lee, Dep. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Kee-Joo Chang, Dep. of Physics. Professor Kim has made significant contributions to the advancement of Korea’s semiconductor field. He developed and put into a practical use ‘CCD Imaging Element’, a core technology in the multimedia era and the most widely used imaging sensor, for the first time in the world. He also promoted special education programs with industrial bodies such as Samsung Electronics, Hynix Semiconductor, etc. to improve industry-academy cooperation programs of KAIST. In recent years, he is showing passionate activities for the development of KAIST, such as genius education, interdisciplinary education by the Graduate School of Culture Technology, and experiment education for undergraduate students. He received Hoam Prize in 1993 and the Order of Civil Merit Moran Medal in 1997, and is an IEEE fellow and the former Vice-president of KAIST. Professor Lee has showed outstanding performances in the field of Metabolic Engineering. He discovered the genome sequences of bacteria for the first time in the world and published a paper regarding his discovery applied to metabolic engineering technologies at Nature Biotechnology in 2004. He also published a 78-page paper, evaluated as the bible of prteomics, at the 70 years long Microbiology and Molecular Biology Review (MMBR). His research performances are 187 domestic and international papers, 203 patent applications, Young Scientist Award, 212 invited lectures from home and abroad, etc. Professor Chang has published about 200 papers in the field of Sold-State Physics and presented diverse theory models regarding semiconductor materials, his major research fields, at review articles, textbooks, academic conferences, etc. Particularly, he found out the essences of DX defects in GaAs semiconductors, a problem that had remained unsolved more than 10 years, and his paper on this has been cited so far more than 500 times. Professor Chang, named as one of the Nation’s Great Scholars in 2005, has 15 papers as cited more than 100 times and records the number of citation indexed by SCI at 4,847, third place among all scientists in Korea. Distinguished Professors are the most honorable positions in KAIST, and only professors achieving world’s distinguished research and education performances can be Distinguished Professors. Being Distinguished Professors demands recommendations from President, Vice-president, Deans of College, and Department Heads and favorable evaluations by domestic and overseas professionals. Distinguished Professors will be offered special incentives and appointed as non full-time faculty even after their full retirement age. KAIST will hire outstanding human resources in highly promising research fields through its novice systems including Distinguished Professors System, etc. to build and retain world’s best faculty.
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