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Life After COVID-19: Big Questions on Medical and Bio-Engineering
KAIST GSI forum explores big questions in the medical and bio-engineering revolution caused by the COVID-19 in fight against infectious diseases and life quality On September 9, the Global Strategy Institute at KAIST will delve into innovative future strategies for the medical and bio-engineering sectors that have been disrupted by COVID-19. The forum will live stream via YouTube, KTV, and Naver TV from 9:00 am Korean time. The online forum features a speaker lineup of world-renowned scholars who will discuss an array of bio-engineering technologies that will improve our quality of life and even extend our life span. This is the GSI’s third online forum since the first one in April that covered the socio-economic implications of the global pandemic and the second one in June focusing on the education sector. In hosting the third round of the GSI Forum series, KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin stressed the power of science and technology saying, “In this world full of uncertainties, one thing for sure is that only the advancement of science and technology will deliver us from this crisis.” Korean Prime Minister Sye-Kyun Chung will also deliver a speech explaining the government’s response to COVID-19 and vaccine development strategies. The President of the National Academy of Medicine in the US will share ideal policies to back up the bio-engineering and medical sectors and Futurist Thomas Frey from the Davinci Institute will present his distinct perspectives on our future lives after COVID-19. His thought-provoking insights on advancements in the bioengineering sector will examine whether humanity can put an end to infectious diseases and find new ways to lengthen our lives. Two distinguished professors in the field of genetic engineering technology will share their latest breakthroughs. Professor George McDonald Church from Harvard Medical School who developed genome sequencing will deliver a keynote speech on how the advancement of gene editing and genome technology will overcome diseases and contribute to extending human life spans. Professor Kwang-Soo Kim, a KAIST alumnus from Harvard Medical School who recently reported new discoveries for Parkinson’s disease treatment by reprogramming a patient’s own skin cells to replace cells in the brain, will introduce the latest clinical cell treatment technologies based on personalized therapeutics. Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer of Illumina Susan Tousi, a leading genome sequencing solution provider, will describe genome analysis technology and explore the potential for disease prevention. KAIST medical scientist Jeong Ho Lee, who was the first to identify the causes of intractable epilepsies and has identified the genes responsible for several developmental brain disorders. Professor Jin-Hyung Lee from Stanford University and Dr. David B. Resnik from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science will also join the speaker lineup to discuss genetics-based personalized solutions to extend human life spans. The forum will also invite about 50 young scientists and medical researchers from around the world to participate in an online panel session. They will engage in a Q&A session and a discussion with the speakers. (END)
KAIST Receives $57 Million Donation to Enhance Research
The largest amount since the opening of KAIST will fund ‘Singularity Professors’ KAIST Development Foundation Chairman Soo-Young Lee made a gift of real estate estimated at approximately $57 million on July 23. This is the largest donation KAIST has received since it was founded in 1971. The fund will establish the “Soo-Young Lee Science Education Foundation” and the proceeds of the foundation will go to the “Singularity Professors” as necessary resources to help make discoveries and design new approaches to accelerate breakthroughs. “KAIST should be the institute that will produce first Korean Nobel laureate in the field of science. I hope this fund will be utilized to enable Korea to stand out in this challenging time by accomplishing breakthroughs nobody has never imagined,” said Chairman Lee during the donation ceremony at KAIST’s campus in Daejeon. This is Chairman Lee’s third donation following the $6.7 million donation in 2012 and the $830,000 donation in 2016. Chairman Lee began her career as a journalist in 1963. In 1981, she started her own business by launching Kwangwon Ranch and became a successful businesswoman. In 1988, Chairman Lee established the real estate company Kwangwon Industries. After receiving an honorary doctorate from KAIST in 2012, she has served as the chairman of the KAIST Development Foundation from 2013. Chairman Lee expressed her intention to make another donation to KAIST in the near future during the news conference. “People matter most for advancing the world. KAIST has a very distinct mission to foster the brightest minds and will drive the nation to move forward. I have worked with KAIST for quite long time so that I have a strong belief that KAIST is the one that will not only make contributions to Korea but also to all humanity,” she explained. “For example, about one-fourth of the R&D manpower at Samsung Electronics is from KAIST. In 2019, Samsung Electronics recorded a revenue of approximately $206 billion which accounted for about 16% of national GDP. KAIST is the one that fosters global talents who are working at global company such as Samsung and many others.” KAIST President Sung-Chul Shin also expressed his deep respect for Chairman Lee’s decision, saying that the entire KAIST community will make every effort to keep up Chairman Lee’s noble idea encouraging KAIST to push forward and help realize KAIST’s role and mission. (END)
Singularity Professors Represent the Future of Research at KAIST
KAIST will launch a Singularity Professor track, which gives more freedom to researchers for pursuing their research goal. This more flexible and creative research environment institutionally supports researchers as they dive deeper into their research for a longer period of time without any strings attached. The track was established in an effort to ensure more competitive researchers who can lead the way for new advances in science and technology. This innovative research initiative is part of KAIST’s expansive effort to envision and position itself to build global research competitiveness in the wake of its 50th anniversary in 2021 and beyond. From this year, KAIST will select two to three research faculty for this special track with full-scale funding for 10 years. Singularity Professors will have their annual performance evaluations waived for 10 years. Instead, their research will be reviewed in their fifth year. The professors in this track will not participate in government-funded R&D projects and be fully funded by KAIST’s endowment. In addition to those newly hired into this track, Singularity Professorships are opens to existing faculty members. The selection criteria are very simple but highly demanding: one who can pivot an existing academic paradigm or invent a new discipline by presenting a novel scientific theory. KAIST recently hosted a briefing session for current faculty members and encouraged them to apply for the new track. As part of the selection criteria, the research topic’s innovativeness, feasibility, and appropriateness will be major factors for this track. Employment under this track will continue for up to 20 years. After receiving an evaluation of Very Satisfactory at the end of first ten-year contract, another ten years will be added. President Sung-Chul Shin, who has pushed for this system since he took office in 2017, said during the briefing session, “It takes quite a long time to bear fruit in academics, especially in science. I am very delighted that KAIST is paving the way for building a longer-term research environment which allows full and longer commitments for research that the faculty is excited to try. That’s the first step to sow the seeds for bearing fruit in academics, especially in science.” This is a paradigm shift to embrace transformation in a new era. The new institutional strategy supports the change from a fast follower to a first mover during these technologically turbulent times. Under its Global Singularity Research Projects initiative, KAIST already selected focus research topics in the most challenging as well as most creative fields of neuro-rehabilitation, new materials, and molecular optogenetics. “Especially in the post-COVID era, we have a very clear mission for the world. Our knowledge should translate into global value that can benefit those suffering from this pandemic, and mitigate the inequity coming from the digital discrepancies,” President Shin added. (END)
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)
Manipulating Brain Cells by Smartphone
Researchers have developed a soft neural implant that can be wirelessly controlled using a smartphone. It is the first wireless neural device capable of indefinitely delivering multiple drugs and multiple colour lights, which neuroscientists believe can speed up efforts to uncover brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, addiction, depression, and pain. A team under Professor Jae-Woong Jeong from the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST and his collaborators have invented a device that can control neural circuits using a tiny brain implant controlled by a smartphone. The device, using Lego-like replaceable drug cartridges and powerful, low-energy Bluetooth, can target specific neurons of interest using drugs and light for prolonged periods. This study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. “This novel device is the fruit of advanced electronics design and powerful micro and nanoscale engineering,” explained Professor Jeong. “We are interested in further developing this technology to make a brain implant for clinical applications.” This technology significantly overshadows the conventional methods used by neuroscientists, which usually involve rigid metal tubes and optical fibers to deliver drugs and light. Apart from limiting the subject’s movement due to bulky equipment, their relatively rigid structure causes lesions in soft brain tissue over time, therefore making them not suitable for long-term implantation. Although some efforts have been made to partly mitigate adverse tissue response by incorporating soft probes and wireless platforms, the previous solutions were limited by their inability to deliver drugs for long periods of time as well as their bulky and complex control setups. To achieve chronic wireless drug delivery, scientists had to solve the critical challenge of the exhaustion and evaporation of drugs. To combat this, the researchers invented a neural device with a replaceable drug cartridge, which could allow neuroscientists to study the same brain circuits for several months without worrying about running out of drugs. These ‘plug-n-play’ drug cartridges were assembled into a brain implant for mice with a soft and ultrathin probe (with the thickness of a human hair), which consisted of microfluidic channels and tiny LEDs (smaller than a grain of salt), for unlimited drug doses and light delivery. Controlled with an elegant and simple user interface on a smartphone, neuroscientists can easily trigger any specific combination or precise sequencing of light and drug delivery in any implanted target animal without the need to be physically inside the laboratory. Using these wireless neural devices, researchers can also easily setup fully automated animal studies where the behaviour of one animal could affect other animals by triggering light and/or drug delivery. “The wireless neural device enables chronic chemical and optical neuromodulation that has never been achieved before,” said lead author Raza Qazi, a researcher with KAIST and the University of Colorado Boulder. This work was supported by grants from the National Research Foundation of Korea, US National Institute of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and Mallinckrodt Professorship. (A neural implant with replaceable drug cartridges and Bluetooth low-energy can target specific neurons .) (Micro LED controlling using smartphone application)
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.
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee Accepts an Honorary Professorship at Beijing University of Chemical Technology
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST has been appointed an honorary professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT). Founded in 1958, BUCT is one of the outstanding universities in mainland China, especially in chemistry studies. In addition to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2012), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (2013), Wuhan University (2014), and Hebei University of Technology (2014), this is the fifth honorary professorship Professor Lee has received from higher education institutions in China. Professor Lee was recognized for his pioneering research in systems metabolic engineering of microorganisms necessary for the development of green chemical industries. He succeeded in producing succinic acid through bacterial fermentation and engineering plastic raw materials in the most effective and economical method for the first time in the world. Professor Lee also developed polylactic acid, a bio-based polymer that allows plastics to be produced through natural and renewable resources, as well as the microbial production of alkanes, an alternative to gasoline that can be produced from fatty acids. Professor Lee has been actively working as a member of a group of global leaders supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF), serving as the Chairman of the Future of Chemicals, Advanced Materials & Biotechnology, Global Agenda Councils, WEF.
2014 NEREC Conference on Nuclear Nonproliferation: July 31-August 1, 2014, Seoul
The Nonproliferation Education and Research Center (NEREC) at KAIST hosted an international conference on nuclear nonproliferation on July 31-August 1, 2014 in Seoul. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, and the Korea Nuclear Policy Society (KNPS) sponsored the event. Over one hundred experts and "thought leaders" in nuclear security and nonproliferation attended the conference and discussed issues related to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, the role of scientific community in mitigating nuclear threat and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear power, and nuclear disarmament policy. Keynote speakers were: Steven E. Miller, Director of International Security Program at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University; Scott D. Sagan, Senior Fellow of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Programme, International Institute for Strategic Studies; Sang-Hyun Lee, Director of Security Strategy, Sejong Institute; and Man-Sung Yim, Professor of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, KAIST. At the conference, Professor Yim, Director of KAIST NEREC said, “Korea has grown to become a key player in the development of commercial nuclear energy over the past decades. We hope that our conference encourages Korea to be more involved in the efforts of the international community to enhance the global nonproliferation regime.”
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.”
Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee appointed as an advisor for Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China
In recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in the area of bioengineering, specializing in metabolic engineering, Sang Yup Lee, a distinguished professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST, was assigned as an advisory professor for the bioengineering department at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China for five years from August 2013 to July 2018. Together with Peking University and Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University is one of the top three universities in China. The advisory professors carry out collaborated research programs in special areas and provide advice on education and research issues. Professor Lee, a specialist in metabolic engineering, has initiated systems metabolic engineering which integrates metabolic engineering, systems biology, and synthetic biology and has applied it to various chemical production systems to develop bio fuel and many eco-friendly chemical production processes. Recently, he received the Marvin J. Johnson Award from the American Chemistry Society, the Charles Thom Award from the American Society for Industrial Microbiology, as well as the Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award. As a global leader in the area of bioengineering, Professor Lee is a member of the Korean Academy of Science & Technology, the National Academy of Engineering of Korea, the US National Academy of Engineering, and is the chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Biotechnology at the World Economic Forum.
KAIST Ph.D Mihyun Jang Employed as Professor at Technische Universitat Graz
A Ph.D purely from Korea has been employed as a professor at Technische Universitat Graz. This is the news of Prof.Mihyun Kang (39) who has graduated from KAIST’s mathematics department. Prof.Kang has transferred on January 2012. KAIST explained that “it’s the first time for a mathematics Ph.D from Korea has been employed abroad.” Technische Universitat Graz of Australia is ranked the top third university within the country. It is a global university with 1,700 students from 78 different countries out of its 11,000 students. Prof. Kang researched mainly theories of combination including random graphing theories, analytical combination theories, and probabilistic combination theories. She has been employed as a lifetime professor through open recruitment where she competed with others through academic debates and interviews. Technische Universitat Graz valued Prof. Kang’s research highly made her the department head of the ‘Optimization and Discrete Mathematics department’ to create an environment where she could continuously research. Prof. Kang graduated from Jeju university majoring math educations and did her graduate studies in KAIST. She is a purely ‘Korean’ Ph.D. After her studies, she worked for Germany’s Humboldt University and Freie Universitat Berlin. In 2007, she was able to be employed as a professor in Germany, and in 2008, she was chosen as a Heisenberg fellow. Prof. Kang who had her research achievements recognized in Germany and Austria was also offered seat as professor in Ludwig Masximilan University of Germany and Alpenadria University in Austria, but chose Technische Universitat Graz.
Professor Son Hoon received "Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year Award."
Professor Son Hoon (42) of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering received the “Structural Health Monitoring Person of the Year Award” at an international workshop on structural health monitoring held in Stanford University. The award is given by the editor and advisors of prestigious international magazine, “Journal of Structural Health Monitoring,” to a researcher with the best research record in a year. Professor Son has published 42 SCI level dissertations, registered 17 patents both domestically and internationally, and presented over 100 papers in international journals, for which he was recognized with the award. Professor Son is the first Korean who receives this award. One of the most significant achievements by Professor Son was “reference-free damage diagnosis” that he had developed in 2007. The diagnosis allows for the detection of wear and tear of a structure without having to use the foundation signal from the initial stages of the structure. The diagnosis contributed greatly in increasing the reliability of the signal information received from smart sensors attached to the structure by eliminating the environmental impact like temperature. Professor Son is currently working on green energy structural health monitoring system development related projects. His current work deals with airplanes, bridges, nuclear facilities, high speed railways, wind turbines, and etc. in cooperation with Boeing, United States Air Force Research Institute, Korea Research Foundation, Ministry of Defense Research Institute, Korea Expressway Corporation, POSCO, and etc. In addition, Professor Son successfully adopted a local monitoring method using smart piezoelectric sensors on a bridge in New Jersey as part of the Long Term Bridge Performance Program initiated by the National Highway Bureau. The success was even introduced in New Jersey’s public TV and newspaper agencies. Professor Son was given tenure at a record age of 39 in 2008 and received numerous awards given out by the Ministry of Education and Science and international organizations like the ‘Edward M Curtis’ Professor Award from Purdue University.
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