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Breastfeeding Helps Prevent Mothers from Developing Diabetes after Childbirth
A team of South Korean researchers found that lactation can lower the incidence and reduce the risk of maternal postpartum diabetes. The researchers identified that lactation increases the mass and function of pancreatic beta cells through serotonin production. The team suggested that sustained improvements in pancreatic beta cells, which can last for years even after the cessation of lactation, improve mothers’ metabolic health in addition to providing health benefits for infants. Pregnancy imposes a substantial metabolic burden on women through weight gain and increased insulin resistance. Various other factors, including a history of gestational diabetes, maternal age, and obesity, further affect women’s risk of progressing to diabetes after delivery, and the risk of postpartum diabetes increases more in women who have had gestational diabetes and/or repeated deliveries. Diabetes-related complications include damage to blood vessels, which can lead to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke, and problems with the nerves, eyes, kidneys, and many more. Since diabetes can pose a serious threat to mothers’ metabolic health, the management of maternal metabolic risk factors is important, especially in the peripartum period. Previous epidemiological studies have reported that lactation reduces the risk of postpartum diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying this benefit have remained elusive. The study, published in Science Translational Medicine on April 29, explains the biology underpinning this observation on the beneficial effects of lactation. Professor Hail Kim from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering at KAIST led and jointly conducted the study in conjunction with researchers from the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) and Chungnam National University (CNU) in Korea, and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the US. In their study, the team observed that the milk-secreting hormone ‘prolactin’ in lactating mothers not only promotes milk production, but also plays a major role in stimulating insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells that regulate blood glucose in the body. The researchers also found that ‘serotonin’, known as a chemical that contributes to wellbeing and happiness, is produced in pancreatic beta cells during lactation. Serotonin in pancreatic beta cells act as an antioxidant and reduce oxidative stress, making mothers’ beta cells healthier. Serotonin also induces the proliferation of beta cells, thereby increasing the beta cell mass and helping maintain proper glucose levels. The research team conducted follow-up examinations on a total of 174 postpartum women, 85 lactated and 99 non-lactated, at two months postpartum and annually thereafter for at least three years. The results demonstrated that mothers who had undergone lactation improved pancreatic beta cell mass and function, and showed improved glucose homeostasis with approximately 20mg/dL lower glucose levels, thereby reducing the risk of postpartum diabetes in women. Surprisingly, this beneficial effect was maintained after the cessation of lactation, for more than three years after delivery. Professor Kim said, “We are happy to prove that lactation benefits female metabolic health by improving beta cell mass and function as well as glycemic control.” “Our future studies on the modulation of the molecular serotonergic pathway in accordance with the management of maternal metabolic risk factors may lead to new therapeutics to help prevent mothers from developing metabolic disorders,” he added. This work was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National Research Council of Science and Technology (NST) of Korea, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, and the Health Fellowship Foundation. Image credit: Professor Hail Kim, KAIST Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Moon, J. H et al. (2020) ‘Lactation improves pancreatic β cell mass and function through serotonin production.’ Science Translational Medicine, 12, eaay0455. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay0455 Profile: Hail Kim, MD, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Professor Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering (GSMSE) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) Profile: Hak Chul Jang, MD, PhD email@example.com Professor Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) President Korean Diabetes Association Profile: Joon Ho Moon, MD, PhD firstname.lastname@example.org Clinical Fellow Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism SNUBH Profile: Hyeongseok Kim, MD, PhD email@example.com Assistant Professor Chungnam National University (CNU) Profile: Professor Michael S. German, MD Michael.German@ucsf.edu Professor Diabetes Center University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (END)
Highly Efficient and Stable Double Layer Solar Cell Developed
Solar cells convert light into energy, but they can be inefficient and vulnerable to the environment, degrading with, ironically, too much light or other factors, including moisture and low temperature. An international research team has developed a new type of solar cell that can both withstand environmental hazards and is 26.7% efficient in power conversion. They published their results on March 26 in Science. The researchers, led by Byungha Shin, a professor from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST, focused on developing a new class of light-absorbing material, called a wide bandgap perovskite. The material has a highly effective crystal structure that can process the power needs, but it can become problematic when exposed to environmental hazards, such as moisture. Researchers have made some progress increasing the efficiency of solar cells based on perovskite, but the material has greater potential than what was previously achieved. To achieve better performance, Shin and his team built a double layer solar cell, called tandem, in which two or more light absorbers are stacked together to better utilize solar energy. To use perovskite in these tandem devices, the scientists modified the material’s optical property, which allows it to absorb a wider range of solar energy. Without the adjustment, the material is not as useful in achieving high performing tandem solar cells. The modification of the optical property of perovskite, however, comes with a penalty — the material becomes hugely vulnerable to the environment, in particular, to light. To counteract the wide bandgap perovskite’s delicate nature, the researchers engineered combinations of molecules composing a two-dimensional layer in the perovskite, stabilizing the solar cells. “We developed a high-quality wide bandgap perovskite material and, in combination with silicon solar cells, achieved world-class perovskite-silicon tandem cells,” Shin said. The development was only possible due to the engineering method, in which the mixing ratio of the molecules building the two-dimensional layer are carefully controlled. In this case, the perovskite material not only improved efficiency of the resulting solar cell but also gained durability, retaining 80% of its initial power conversion capability even after 1,000 hours of continuous illumination. This is the first time such a high efficiency has been achieved with a wide bandgap perovskite single layer alone, according to Shin. “Such high-efficiency wide bandgap perovskite is an essential technology for achieving ultra-high efficiency of perovskite-silicon tandem (double layer) solar cells,” Shin said. “The results also show the importance of bandgap matching of upper and lower cells in these tandem solar cells.” The researchers, having stabilized the wide bandgap perovskite material, are now focused on developing even more efficient tandem solar cells that are expected to have more than 30% of power conversion efficiency, something that no one has achieved yet, “Our ultimate goal is to develop ultra-high-efficiency tandem solar cells that contribute to the increase of shared solar energy among all energy sources,” Shin said. “We want to contribute to making the planet healthier.” This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning, the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy of Korea, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Other contributors include Daehan Kim, Jekyung Kim, Passarut Boonmongkolras, Seong Ryul Pae and Minkyu Kim, all of whom affiliated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST. Other authors include Byron W. Larson, Sean P. Dunfield, Chuanxiao Xiao, Jinhui Tong, Fei Zhang, Joseph J. Berry, Kai Zhu and Dong Hoe Kim, all of who are affiliated with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. Dunfield is also affiliated with the Materials Science and Engineering Program at the University of Colorado; Berry is also affiliated with the Department of Physics and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Kim is also affiliated with the Department of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Engineering at Sejong University. Hee Joon Jung and Vinayak Dravid of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University; Ik Jae Park, Su Geun Ji and Jin Young Kim of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Seoul National University; and Seok Beom Kang of the Department of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials Engineering of Sejong University also contributed. Image credit: Professor Byungha Shin, KAIST Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. Publication: Kim et al. (2020) “Efficient, stable silicon tandem cells enabled by anion-engineered wide band gap perovskites”. Science. Available online at https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aba3433 Profile: Byungha Shin Professor firstname.lastname@example.org http://energymatlab.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Materials Science and Engineering KAIST Profile: Daehan Kim Ph.D. Candidate email@example.com http://energymatlab.kaist.ac.kr/ Department of Materials Science and Engineering KAIST (END)
KAIST GSAI and SNUBH Join Hands for AI in Healthcare
< Dean Song Chong (left) and Director Chang Wan Oh (right) at the KAIST GSAI - SNUBH MOU Signing Ceremony > The Graduate School of AI (GSAI) at KAIST and the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in AI education and research in the field of healthcare last month. The two institutions have agreed to collaborate on research and technology development through the implementation of academic and personnel exchange programs. The GSAI, opened in August 2019 as Korea’s first AI graduate school, has been in the forefront of nurturing top-tier AI specialists in the era of Fourth Industrial Revolution. The school employs a two-track strategy that not only provides students with core AI-related courses on machine learning, data mining, computer vision, and natural language processing, but also a multidisciplinary curriculum incorporating the five key fields of healthcare, autonomous vehicles, manufacturing, security, and emerging technologies. Its faculty members are "the cream of the crop” in their early 40s, achieving world-class performance in their respective fields. SNUBH opened the Healthcare Innovation Park in 2016, the first hospital-led convergence research complex among Korean medical institutions. It is leading future medical research in five specialized areas: medical devices, healthcare ICT, human genetics, nano-machines, and regenerative medicine. The Dean of the GSAI, Song Chong, said, “We have set the stage for a cooperative platform for continuous and efficient joint education and research by the two institutions.” He expressed his excitement, saying, “Through this platform and our expertise in AI engineering and medicine, we will lead future AI-based medical technology.” The Director of the SNUBH Research Division, Chang Wan Oh, stressed that “the mutual cooperation between the two institutions will become a crucial turning point in AI education and research, which is at the core of future healthcare.” He added, “Through a high level of cooperation, we will have the ability to bring about global competitiveness and innovation.” (END)
KAIST and Seoul National University Agree to Expand Cooperation in Education and Research
The presidents of two top-notch universities in Korea, KAIST and Seoul National University (SNU), met on July 23rd at the SNU campus and agreed to expand their academic cooperation to promote the univresities" mutual development. To start, President Yeon-Cheon Oh of SNU proposed a student exchange program through which SNU students can take courses at KAIST for six months. In return, President Steve Kang suggested that KAIST establish a liaison office on the SNU campus to facilitate better communication between two universities, thereby developing more exchange programs for research and education.Additionally, the two public universities will set up a task force to implement the agreement, conduct joint research programs, and hold regular meetings between their faculty members.President Kang said, “SNU has superb academic and research programs not only in the fields of science and technology but also in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. KAIST will surely benefit from SNU’s excellence in a broad range of academic disciplines, and SNU will have an opportunity to capitalize on KAIST’s expertise in science, engineering, and technology to enhance its growth.”At the conclusion of their consultation, the presidents expressed the hope that the agreement will strengthen the two institutions" capacity for competitiveness and globalization, preparing them to compete with leading universities in the world.
KAIST to Host ITTP Conference in Tunisia
KAIST"s Global IT Technology Program (ITTP) will host an international conference at Hammamet Hotel in Tunisia in cooperation with its counterpart at Seoul National University (SNU) on Nov. 23, university authorities said on Wednesday (Nov. 18). The event is a pre-conference for the ICT4All Forum on Nov. 24-25 which the Tunisian government is organizing with the ADB, World Bank, Arab Society for Intellectual Property and the UTICA to deal with developing information and communication technologies. KAIST"s ITTP which started in 2006 is designed to build global network of IT leaders around the world. The program supported by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge and Economy offers a customized master"s and doctoral degree program for foreign government officials, employees of public institutions and senior researchers at national research centers working in the IT fields. Scholarships are provided for all trainees, for up to 2 years for master"s students and up to 3 years for doctoral students. The program focuses on transferring advanced technologies and business strategies of Korea to the global IT leaders of the next generation. During the conference, seven government officials from as many countries currently under the KAIST or SNU programs will present international cooperation cases based on their own experiences in the IT fields. KAIST ITTP organizers will also provide an educational session on the mobile government for Tunisian experts and conference participants in the information and communications fields.
KAIST Ranked 21st among World's Engineering Universities
KAIST was placed 21st in the area of engineering and information technology in this year"s world university rankings released on Oct. 8 (Thursday), climbing 13 notches from last year"s 34th. Seoul National University (SNU) ranked 27th, which made KAIST and SNU the only two institutions making it to the top 50 list. POSTECH ascended to 81st from last year"s 143rd. In the "Times Higher Education--QS World University Rankings," Korean universities showed remarkable advancement this year; all-told five Korean universities made it to the top 200 list, as Yonsei and Korea universities were included in the list for the first time. In overall rankings, KAIST moved 26 notches upward to grab the 69th position in the list, while SNU was placed 47th (50th last year). The list, compiled by The Times (of London) newspaper annually, is topped by Harvard University, followed by University of Cambridge and Yale University. Again this year, the United States had most of the top 100 universities in the world, with 32 included in the list. It was followed by the United Kingdom (18), Australia (8) and Japan (6). Now in their 6th edition, the Times Higher Education--QS World University Rankings received a record level of responses from both the academic community and employers in 2009. A total of 9,386 academics (or 47 percent over 6,354 in 2008) and 3,281 employers (compared to 2,339 in 2008) responded to the surveys. Times Higher Education -- QS World University Rankings evaluates institutions worldwide in four main categories: quality of research, globalization, quality of education, and contributions of graduates to society. The evaluation also considers academic peer review, citations per faculty, recruiter review, international faculty, international students and faculty-student ratio.
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