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KAIST, NTU, and Technion Collaborate for Research in Emerging Fields
KAIST, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore, and Technion of Israel signed an agreement on April 11, 2016 in Seoul to create a five-year joint research program for some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial areas: robotics, medical technologies, satellites, materials science and engineering, and entrepreneurship. Under the agreement, the universities will also offer dual degree opportunities, exchange visits, and internships. In the picture from the left, Bertil Andersson of NTU, Sung-Mo Kang of KAIST, and Peretz Lavie of Technion hold the signed memorandum of understanding.
Asia Pacific Biotech News' Special Coverage of Korean Biotechnology
The Asia Pacific Biotech News covered five major biotechnology research projects sponsored by the Korean government in the areas of biofuels, biomedicine, bio-nano healthcare, and biorefinery. The Asia Pacific Biotech News (APBN), a monthly magazine based in Singapore, which offers comprehensive reports on the fields of pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and biotechnology, recently published a special feature on Korea’s biotechnology research and development (R&D) programs. The magazine feature selected five research programs sponsored by the Korean government, which are either part of the Global Frontier or the Climate Change Technology Development Projects. The programs are: Systems Metabolic Engineering Research: Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has been leading a research group to develop biorefining technology using renewable non-food biomass to produce chemicals, fuels, and materials that were largely drawn from fossil resources through petrochemical refinery processes. Applying a systems metabolic engineering approach, the group succeeded in modifying the metabolic pathways of microorganisms. As a result, they produced, for the first time in the world, engineered plastic raw materials and gasoline. The team also developed a technique to produce butanol and succinic acid with a higher titer and yield using metabolically engineered microorganisms. Next-generation Biomass Research: Under the leadership of Professor Yong- Keun Chang of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at KAIST, the research project, which belongs to the Global Frontier Project, develops biofuels and bioproducts utilizing microalgae typically found in water and other marine systems. Convergence Research for Biomedicine: Professor Sung-Hoon Kim of Seoul National University leads this project that develops targeted new drugs based on convergence research strategies. Bionano Healthcare Chip Research: Director Bong-Hyun Chung of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology has integrated information and communications technology, nanotechnology, and biotechnology to develop a diagnostic kit that can screen toxic germs, virus, and toxic materials in a prompt and accurate manner. Biosynergy Research: Led by Professor Do-Hun Lee of the Bio and Brain Engineering Department at KAIST, this research project develops new treatments with a multi-target, multi-component approach in the context of systems biology through an analysis of synergistic reactions between multi-compounds in traditional East Asian medicine and human metabolites. In East Asian medicine, treatment and caring of the human body are considered analogous to the politics of governing a nation. Based on such system, the research focuses on designing a foundation for the integration of traditional medicine with modern drug discovery and development. Director Ilsub Baek at the Platform Technology Division of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea, who is responsible for the Global Frontier Program and the Technology to Solve Climate Change, said, “It is great to see that Asia Pacific Biotech News published an extensive coverage of Korea’s several key research programs on biotechnology as its first issue of this year. I am sure that these programs will lead to great outcomes to solve many worldwide pending issues including climate change and healthcare in the aging society.” Professor Sang Yup Lee, who served as an editor of the feature, said, “At the request of the magazine, we have already published lead articles on our biotechnology research three times in the past in 2002, 2006, and 2011. I am pleased to see continued coverage of Korean biotechnology by the magazine because it recognizes the excellence of our research. Biotechnology has emerged as one of the strong fields that addresses important global issues such as climate change and sustainability.”
Professor Tae-Eog Lee Receives December's Scientist of the Month Award by the Korean Government
Professor Tae-Eog Lee of the Industrial and Systems Engineering at KAIST received the Scientist of the Month Award for December 2015. The award is sponsored by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning of Korea, which was hosted by the National Research Foundation of Korea. The award recognizes Professor Lee’s efforts to advance the field of semiconductor device fabrication processing. This includes the development of the most efficient scheduling and controlling of cluster tools. He also created mathematical solutions to optimize the complicated cycle time of cluster tools in semiconductor manufacturing and the process of robot task workload. Professor Lee contributed to the formation of various discrete event systems and automation systems based on his mathematical theories and solutions and advanced a scheduling technology for the automation of semiconductor production. He has published 18 research papers in the past three years and has pioneered to develop Korean tool schedulers through the private sector-university cooperation.
KAIST and Charles University Agree to Cooperate
KAIST and Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic, agreed to cooperate in research and education. President Steve Kang of KAIST (pictured on the left) and Rector Tomáš Zima of Charles University signed the agreement on December 2, 2015, at the Hilton Hotel in Prague. Minster Yang-Hee Choi of Science, ICT and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea and Minister Kateřina Valachová of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic also joined the signing ceremony. Under the agreement, the two institutions will exchange students and researchers, as well as implement joint research programs. President Kang said, “We are pleased to work with one of the most prestigious universities in the Czech Republic and hope to build a good partnership in the years ahead.” Founded in 1348, Charles University in Prague is the oldest and largest university in the Czech Republic. The university received two Nobel prizes in physiology or medicine and in chemistry in 1947 and 1959, respectively.
More Donations Arrive to Establish the New Medicine Research and Development Center on Campus
A raft of businesses continues to make donations to establish a new medicine research and development center on campus. The Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST is leading the fundraising campaign. On November 9, 2015, Nikon Instruments Korea Co., Ltd. contributed USD 8,500 to the fundraising, followed by Carl Zeiss AG and Three-Shine Inc., which donated USD 12,800 and 8,500, respectively. Bruno Lin, an Executive Director at Carl Zeiss AG in Korea, said, “I’m very glad to participate in this fundraising initiative for the Biological Sciences Department at KAIST, one rapidly reaching out to the world.” From the left in the picture are Vice President Tae-Hoon Kim, Director Gyu-Hyeok Lee, and Executive Director Bruno Lin of Carl Zeiss AG, Byung-Ha Oh, Dean of the Biological Sciences Department, and Professor Eunjoon Kim. From the left in the picture are Byung-Ha Oh, Dean of the Biological Sciences Department, President Chun-Gui Park of Three-Shine Inc., and Professor Daesoo Kim. President Chun of Three-Shine Inc., said, “We hope that the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST, aided by the construction of new research center, will produce practical research achievements and stand on the frontier of new medicine development research in Korea.” The New Medicine Research and Development Center will be equipped with state-of-the-art, purpose-built research facilities to support convergent, interdisciplinary research in biomedicine.
Open KAIST 2015
KAIST’s research environment and its most recent achievements were open to the public. KAIST hosted “Open KAIST 2015” over two days from November 5-6, 2015 in which its 17 departments and three research centers were open to the public. The event is one of the largest events that KAIST holds, which permits such public viewings of its facilities. It is the eighth time it has taken place. During this event, the departments and centers offered 64 programs including laboratory tours, research achievement exhibitions, department introductions, and special lectures. The “Motion Capture System”of Professor Jun-Yong Noh’s lab (Graduate School of Culture Technology) drew particular attention. The “Motion Capture System” expresses human and animal motion in three-dimensional (3D) space using infrared cameras and optic markers, which can then be applied to various industries such as movies, games, and animation. During the program, researchers themselves demonstrated the recording of the movement and its conversion into 3D characters. Professor Yong-Hoon Cho’s laboratory introduced the scientific mechanism behind the Light Emitting Diode (LED) as well as its manufacturing process under the topic:“A to Z of LED Production.” The reserachers explained that how green LED is much more efficient compared to previous light sources and presented applications that how it is widely used in everyday life in smart phones, electronic displays, and other mobile gadgets. Professor Jun-tani of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering introduced “Humanoid Robot Nao’s Imitation of Human Motions.” Nao is an autonomous, programmable humanoid robot developed by a French robotics company based in Paris. Nao has an artificial neural circuit, which is the functional equivalent of a human brain, and can thus mimic the subject’s motions through learning. In addition, Professor Hyo-Choong Bang (Department of Aerospace Engineering) in his lecture on “Unmanned Vehicle Research and Nano Satellites” and Professor Hyun Myung (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) on his lecture on “Future Civilization Robot System: the Jellyfish Elimination Robotic Swarm and the Wall-Climbing Drone” provided information on the progress of their respective research. KAIST also displayed its most recent research achievements. A lecture on “Information Technology Convergence” offered a showroom for “Dr. M,” which is a mobile healthcare platform. Dr. M is a mobile healthcare system that collects and analyzes biosignals via a smart sensor attached to the human body that shows around 20 advanced technologies. The Satellite Technology Research Center introduced the public to its “Get to Know Satellites” program on Korea’s first satellite “Our Star 1” in addition to showing the satellite assembly room and the satellite communication center. Special lectures were also held for visitors. Professor Min-Hyuk Kim and Hye-Yeon Oh of the School of Computing talked about “Computer Graphics and Advanced Video Technology” and “Man and the Computer,” respectively, from the perspective of non-experts. Another interesting feature was the “Wearable Computer Competition” in which college students held fashion shows with computers attached to their clothes. Professor Jung Kwon Lee, the Dean of the College of Engineering, who led this event, said that “the Open KAIST, which is being held for the eighth time this year, is an excellent opportunity for the general public to experience KAIST’s research environment.” He hoped this could motivate young adults to widen their spectrum of scientific knowledge and raise affection for science.
KAIST and Hanwha Chemical Agree on Research Collaboration
KAIST signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hanwha Chemical Co., Ltd., a Korean chemical and auto manufacturer, on November 2, 2015 to establish a research center on campus. The research center, which will be named “KAIST-Hanwha Chemical Future Technology Research Center,” will implement joint research projects for five years beginning from 2016 to develop innovative, green technologies that will help the Korean chemical industry boost its global competitiveness and to nurture top researchers and engineers in chemical engineering. The research center will lead the development of next-generation petrochemical materials and manufacturing technology and the establishment of pure high-refining processes which are more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. KAIST and Hanwha will strive to secure new technologies that have the greatest commercialization potential in the global market. They will also establish a scholarship fund for 15 KAIST doctoral students in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Many professors from the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department including Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee, who was listed in the Top 20 Translational Researchers of 2014 by Nature Biotechnology this year, and Professor Hyunjoo Lee who received the Woman Scholar award at the 2015 World Chemistry Conference, will work at the research center. Professor Lee, the head of the research center, said, “Collaborating with Hanwha will give us a strong basis for our efforts to carry out original research and train the best researchers in the field.” Chang-Bum Kim, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hanwha Chemical, said, “We hope our collaborations with KAIST will go beyond the typical industry and university cooperation. The two organizations will indeed jointly operate the research center, and this will become a new model for industry and university cooperation. We expect that the research center will play a crucial role in the development of new products and technologies to grow the Korean chemical industry.” In the photo, President Steve Kang of KAIST (fourth from left) and CEO Chang-Bum Kim of Hanwha Chemical (fifth from left) hold the MOU together.
Establishment of System Metabolic Engineering Strategies
Although conventional petrochemical processes have generated chemicals and materials which have been useful to mankind, they have also triggered a variety of environmental problems including climate change and relied too much on nonrenewable natural resources. To ameliorate this, researchers have actively pursued the development of industrial microbial strains around the globe in order to overproduce industrially useful chemicals and materials from microbes using renewable biomass. This discipline is called metabolic engineering. Thanks to advances in genetic engineering and our knowledge of cellular metabolism, conventional metabolic engineering efforts have succeeded to a certain extent in developing microbial strains that overproduce bioproducts at an industrial level. However, many metabolic engineering projects launched in academic labs do not reach commercial markets due to a failure to fully integrate industrial bioprocesses. In response to this, Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee and Dr. Hyun Uk Kim, both from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST, have recently suggested ten general strategies of systems metabolic engineering to successfully develop industrial microbial strains. Systems metabolic engineering differs from conventional metabolic engineering by incorporating traditional metabolic engineering approaches along with tools of other fields, such as systems biology, synthetic biology, and molecular evolution. The ten strategies of systems metabolic engineering have been featured in Nature Biotechnology released online in October 2015, which is entitled "Systems strategies for developing industrial microbial strains." The strategies cover economic, state-of-the-art biological techniques and traditional bioprocess aspects. Specifically, they consist of: 1) project design including economic evaluation of a target bioproduct; 2) selection of host strains to be used for overproduction of a bioproduct; 3) metabolic pathway reconstruction for bioproducts that are not naturally produced in the selected host strains; 4) increasing tolerance of a host strain against the bioproduct; 5) removing negative regulatory circuits in the microbial host limiting overproduction of a bioproduct; 6) rerouting intracellular fluxes to optimize cofactor and precursor availability necessary for the bioproduct formation; 7) diagnosing and optimizing metabolic fluxes towards product formation; 8) diagnosis and optimization of microbial culture conditions including carbon sources; 9) system-wide gene manipulation to further increase the host strain's production performance using high-throughput genome-scale engineering and computational tools; and 10) scale-up fermentation of the developed strain and diagnosis for the reproducibility of the strain's production performance. These ten strategies were articulated with successful examples of the production of L-arginine using Corynebacterium glutamicum, 1,4-butanediol using Escherichia coli, and L-lysine and bio-nylon using C. glutamicum. Professor Sang Yup Lee said, "At the moment, the chance of commercializing microbial strains developed in academic labs is very low. The strategies of systems metabolic engineering outlined in this analysis can serve as guidelines when developing industrial microbial strains. We hope that these strategies contribute to improving opportunities to commercialize microbial strains developed in academic labs with drastically reduced costs and efforts, and that a large fraction of petroleum-based processes will be replaced with sustainable bioprocesses." Lee S. Y. & Kim, H. U. Systems Strategies for Developing Industrial Microbial Strains. Nature Biotechnology (2015). This work was supported by the Technology Development Program to Solve Climate Change on Systems Metabolic Engineering for Biorefineries (NRF-2012M1A2A2026556) and by the Intelligent Synthetic Biology Center through the Global Frontier Project (2011-0031963) from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), Korea, and through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea. This work was also supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Picture: Concept of the Systems Metabolic Engineering Framework (a) Three major bioprocess stages (b) Considerations in systems metabolic engineering to optimize the whole bioprocess. List of considerations for the strain development and fermentation contribute to improving microbial strain's production performance (red), whereas those for the separation and purification help in reducing overall operation costs by facilitating the downstream process (blue). Some of the considerations can be repeated in the course of systems metabolic engineering.
Nikon Instruments Korea Donates a Fund to KAIST's Department of Biological Sciences
Representatives from Nikon Instruments Korea Co., Ltd., a producer of microscopes and measuring instruments, visited the KAIST campus on September 25, 2015, and donated USD 9,000 to the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST. A small ceremony to mark the donation took place at the department’s conference room. In the picture from left to right were Professor Won-Do Heo, Department Head Byung-Ha Oh, Professor Sangyong Jon, President Sam-Sup Jang of Korea Instech, and Director Ik-Soo Yoo of Nikon Instruments Korea. The department announced that the fund would be used to build its new research center to house the state-of-the-art research equipment and tools for the development of new medicine.
KAIST and Oberthur Technologies Agree for Research and Development in Mobile Security
Professor Kwangjo Kim of the School of Computing at KAIST has signed a research and development (R&D) agreement with Marc Bertin, the Chief Technology Officer of Oberthur Technologies (OT), a French security solutions firm, on September 18, 2015 in Paris. Under the agreement, KAIST and OT will conduct joint research on mobile security as well as implement an internship program for KAIST graduate students to work either at OT’s R&D center in Korea or in France. OT has established a research center in Korea in July 2014, which was the fourth of its research centers in Asia. Professor Kim said, “Our goal at KAIST is to cultivate top-level security experts in security technologies. By partnering with such a leader in security technologies as OT, we know that we will both help shape tomorrow’s security solution for the IoT (Internet of Things) space.” In the picture, Professor Kwangjo Kim (left) shakes hands with Marc Bertin, the Chief Technology Officer of Oberthur Technologies (right), after the signing of a memorandum of understanding.
KAIST and Chongqing University of Technology in China Open an International Program
With the help of KAIST, Chongqing University of Technology (CQUT) in China established an electrical engineering and computer science program and admitted their first 66 freshmen this fall semester. The joint program was created to foster skilled engineers in the fields of electrical engineering and computer science, which are necessary for the development of the Korean and Chinese Industrial Complex located in Chongqing City. KAIST has provided CQUT with a majority of the program’s curricula currently offered to its students in Daejeon, Korea. Under the jointly administered program, KAIST takes on education and research while CQUT is responsible for student selection and administration. KAIST has dispatched eight professors to teach the related fields in English, and 17 CQUT professors will teach the rest of the curricula. In August 2014, KAIST and CQUT singed a cooperation agreement for education and research exchange and created the CQUT-KAIST Education Cooperation Center, which is headed by Professor Young-Nam Han of the Electrical Engineering Department at KAIST. The two universities will expand their collaboration to include graduate programs by 2016. In the picture below, President Steve Kang of KAIST (right) shakes hands with President Shi Xiaohui of Chongqing University of Technology (left).
Professor Woontack Woo Demonstrates an Optical Platform Technology for Augmented Reality at Smart Cloud Show
Professor Woontack Woo of the Graduate School of Culture Technology at KAIST participated in the Smart Cloud Show, a technology exhibition, hosted by the university’s Augmented Human Research Center and presented the latest development of his research, an optical platform system for augmented reality. This event took place on September 16-17, 2015 at Grand Seoul Nine Tree Convention Center in Seoul. At the event, Professor Woo introduced a smart glass with an embedded augmented reality system, which permits remote collaboration between an avatar and the user’s hand. The previous remote collaboration was difficult for ordinary users to employ because of its two-dimensional screen and complicated virtual reality system. However, with the new technology, the camera attached to artificial reality (AR) glasses recognizes the user’s hand and tracks it down to collaborate. The avatar in the virtual space and the user’s hand interact in real space and time. The key to this technology is the stable, real-time hand-tracking technique that allows the detection of the hand’s locations and the recognition of finger movements even in situations of self-occlusion. Through this method, a user can touch and manipulate augmented contents as if they were real-life objects, thereby collaborating remotely with another user who is physically distant by linking his or her movements with an avatar. If this technology is adopted widely, it may bring some economic benefits such as increased productivity due to lower costs for mobility and reduction in social overhead costs from the decrease in the need of traveling long distance. Professor Woo said, “This technology will provide us with a greater opportunity for collaboration, not necessarily restricted to physical travelling, which can be widely used in the fields of medicine, education, entertainment, and tourism.” Professor Woo plans to present his research results on hand-movement tracking and detection at the 12th International Conference on Ubiquitous Robots and Ambient Intelligence (URAI 2015), to be held on October 28-30, 2015, at Kintex in Goyang, Korea. He will also present a research paper on remote collaboration at the ICAT-EGVE 2015 conference, the merger of the 25th International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence (ICAT 2015) and the 20th Eurographics Symposium on Virtual Environments (EGVE 2015), which will take place on October 28-30, 2015 at the Kyoto International Community House, Kyoto, Japan.
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