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Nanowerk Spotlight: Bacteria as environmentally friendly nanoparticle factories, Sep. 24, 2010
The Nanowerk.com is a leading portal site for nanotechnology and nanosciences, which runs a daily news section called “Spotlight.” On September 24, 2010, the Spotlight published an article on the latest developments of the research by a KAIST team headed by Distinguished Professor Sang-Yup Lee of the Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering Department. For the article, please click the link below: Nanowerk Spotlight: Bacteria as environmentally friendly nanoparticle factories, Sep. 24, 2010 By Michael Berger. http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=18188.php
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.
Bioengineers develop a new strategy for accurate prediction of cellular metabolic fluxes
A team of pioneering South Korean scientists has developed a new strategy for accurately predicting cellular metabolic fluxes under various genotypic and environmental conditions. This groundbreaking research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) on August 2, 2010. To understand cellular metabolism and predict its metabolic capability at systems-level, systems biological analysis by modeling and simulation of metabolic network plays an important role. The team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee, focused their research on the development of a new strategy for more accurate prediction of cellular metabolism. “For strain improvement, biologists have made every effort to understand the global picture of biological systems and investigate the changes of all metabolic fluxes of the system under changing genotypic and environmental conditions,” said Lee. The accumulation of omics data, including genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, and fluxome, provides an opportunity to understand the cellular physiology and metabolic characteristics at systems-level. With the availability of the fully annotated genome sequence, the genome-scale in silico (means “performed on computer or via computer simulation.”) metabolic models for a number of organisms have been successfully developed to improve our understanding on these biological systems. With these advances, the development of new simulation methods to analyze and integrate systematically large amounts of biological data and predict cellular metabolic capability for systems biological analysis is important. Information used to reconstruct the genome-scale in silico cell is not yet complete, which can make the simulation results different from the physiological performances of the real cell. Thus, additional information and procedures, such as providing additional constraints (constraint: a term to exclude incorrect metabolic fluxes by restricting the solution space of in silico cell) to the model, are often incorporated to improve the accuracy of the in silico cell. By employing information generated from the genome sequence and annotation, the KAIST team developed a new set of constraints, called Grouping Reaction (GR) constraints, to accurately predict metabolic fluxes. Based on the genomic information, functionally related reactions were organized into different groups. These groups were considered for the generation of GR constraints, as condition- and objective function- independent constraints. Since the method developed in this study does not require complex information but only the genome sequence and annotation, this strategy can be applied to any organism with a completely annotated genome sequence. “As we become increasingly concerned with environmental problems and the limits of fossil resources, bio-based production of chemicals from renewable biomass has been receiving great attention. Systems biological analysis by modeling and simulation of biological systems, to understand cellular metabolism and identify the targets for the strain improvement, has provided a new paradigm for developing successful bioprocesses,” concluded Lee. This new strategy for predicting cellular metabolism is expected to contribute to more accurate determination of cellular metabolic characteristics, and consequently to the development of metabolic engineering strategies for the efficient production of important industrial products and identification of new drug targets in pathogens.”
Native-like Spider Silk Produced in Metabolically Engineered Bacterium
Microscopic picture of 285 kilodalton recombinant spider silk fiber Researchers have long envied spiders’ ability to manufacture silk that is light-weighted while as strong and tough as steel or Kevlar. Indeed, finer than human hair, five times stronger by weight than steel, and three times tougher than the top quality man-made fiber Kevlar, spider dragline silk is an ideal material for numerous applications. Suggested industrial applications have ranged from parachute cords and protective clothing to composite materials in aircrafts. Also, many biomedical applications are envisioned due to its biocompatibility and biodegradability. Unfortunately, natural dragline silk cannot be conveniently obtained by farming spiders because they are highly territorial and aggressive. To develop a more sustainable process, can scientists mass-produce artificial silk while maintaining the amazing properties of native silk? That is something Sang Yup Lee at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, and his collaborators, Professor Young Hwan Park at Seoul National University and Professor David Kaplan at Tufts University, wanted to figure out. Their method is very similar to what spiders essentially do: first, expression of recombinant silk proteins; second, making the soluble silk proteins into water-insoluble fibers through spinning. For the successful expression of high molecular weight spider silk protein, Professor Lee and his colleagues pieced together the silk gene from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, and then inserted it into the expression host (in this case, an industrially safe bacterium Escherichia coli which is normally found in our gut). Initially, the bacterium refused to the challenging task of producing high molecular weight spider silk protein due to the unique characteristics of the protein, such as extremely large size, repetitive nature of the protein structure, and biased abundance of a particular amino acid glycine. “To make E. coli synthesize this ultra high molecular weight (as big as 285 kilodalton) spider silk protein having highly repetitive amino acid sequence, we helped E. coli overcome the difficulties by systems metabolic engineering,” says Sang Yup Lee, Distinguished Professor of KAIST, who led this project. His team boosted the pool of glycyl-tRNA, the major building block of spider silk protein synthesis. “We could obtain appreciable expression of the 285 kilodalton spider silk protein, which is the largest recombinant silk protein ever produced in E. coli. That was really incredible.” says Dr. Xia. But this was only step one. The KAIST team performed high-cell-density cultures for mass production of the recombinant spider silk protein. Then, the team developed a simple, easy to scale-up purification process for the recombinant spider silk protein. The purified spider silk protein could be spun into beautiful silk fiber. To study the mechanical properties of the artificial spider silk, the researchers determined tenacity, elongation, and Young’s modulus, the three critical mechanical parameters that represent a fiber’s strength, extensibility, and stiffness. Importantly, the artificial fiber displayed the tenacity, elongation, and Young’s modulus of 508 MPa, 15%, and 21 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to those of the native spider silk. “We have offered an overall platform for mass production of native-like spider dragline silk. This platform would enable us to have broader industrial and biomedical applications for spider silk. Moreover, many other silk-like biomaterials such as elastin, collagen, byssus, resilin, and other repetitive proteins have similar features to spider silk protein. Thus, our platform should also be useful for their efficient bio-based production and applications,” concludes Professor Lee. This work is published on July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) online.
The 8th International Conference on Metabolic Engineering was held on June 13-18, 2010 in Jeju Island, South Korea.
From left to right, top row: Distinguished Professor and the conference chair Sang Yup Lee, Sang-Hyup Kim - Secretary to the President of Korea, Dr. Jay Keasling, Dr. Greg Stephanopoulos. Left to right, bottom row: Dr. William Provine, Dr. Terry Papoutsakis, Dr, Jens Nielsen, Dr. Lars Nielsen. The importance of industrial biotechnology that produces chemicals and materials from renewable biomass is increasing due to climate change and the dearth of natural resources. Industrial biotechnology refers to a technology that allows sustainable bio-based production of chemicals and materials that could enrich human"s lives using microorganisms. This is where metabolic engineering comes into play for successful application of microorganisms, in which they are engineered in our intended way for improved production capability. The 8th International Conference on Metabolic Engineering, the longest running conference of its kind, was held on June 13-18, 2010 at the International Convention Center in Jeju Island, South Korea. Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of KAIST, Dean of College of Life Science and Bioengineering and Co-Director of Institute for the BioCentury, chaired the conference with the main theme of "metabolic engineering for green growth." With 300 delegates selected by the committee, papers on production of biofuels, chemicals, biopolymers, and pharmaceutics and the development of fundamental metabolic engineering techniques were presented at the conference along with examples of successful commercialization of products developed by several global companies. Sang Hyup Kim, Secretary to the President of Korea, gave an opening plenary lecture entitled "Korean green growth initiative," to inform experts from around the globe of the leadership on green growth in Korea. Young Hoon Park, President of Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB, Korea) delivered his congratulatory address. Sang Hyup Kim said, "Hosting an international conference in Korea on metabolic engineering, which forms a core technology necessary for the development of environmentally friendly processes for producing chemicals and biofuels from renewable biomass, is very meaningful as green growth is a big issue around the globe. This is a great chance to show the excellence of Korea"s green growth associated technology to experts in metabolic engineering and industrial biotechnology." A total of 47 invited lectures in this conference included recent and important topics, for instance, "Synthetic biology for synthetic fuels" by Dr. Jay Keasling from the Joint BioEnergy Institute (USA), "Microbial oil production from renewable feedstocks" by Dr. Greg Stephanopoulos from MIT (USA), "Yeast as a platform cell factory for production of fuels and chemicals" by Dr. Jens Nielsen from Chalmers University (Sweden), "Mammalian synthetic biology - from tools to therapies" by Dr. Martin Fussengger from ETH (Switzerland), "Building, modeling, and applications of metabolic and transcriptional regulatory networks at a genome-scale" by Dr. Bernhard Palsson from the University of California - San Diego (USA), "Genome analysis and engineering Eschericha coli for sucrose utilization" by Dr. Lars Nielsen from the University of Queensland (Australia), "Artificial microorganisms by synthetic biology" by Dr. Daniel Gibson from JCVI (USA), and "Metabolomics and its applications" by Dr. Masaru Tomita from Keio University (Japan). From Korea, Dr. Jin Hwan Park from the research group of Dr. Sang Yup Lee at KAIST presented "Systems metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli for amino acid production," and Dr. Ji Hyun Kim from KRIBB presented "Genome sequencing and omics systems analysis of the protein cell factory of Escherichia coli". Global companies involved in biorefinery presented their recent research outcomes with emphasis on commercialized technologies. They included "Metabolic and process engineering for commercial outcomes" by Dr. William Provine from DuPont (USA), "Direct production of 1,4-butanediol from renewable feedstocks" by Dr. Mark Burk from Genomatica (USA), "Development of an economically sustainable bioprocess for the production of bio 1,2-propanediol" by Dr. Francis Voelker from Metabolic Explorer (France), "Biotechnology to the bottom-line: low pH lactic acid production at industrial scale" by Dr. Pirkko Suominen from Cargill (USA), "Bioisoprene™: traditional monomer, traditional chemistry, sustainable source" by Dr. Gregg Whited from Danisco (USA) and "Efficient production of pharmaceuticals by engineered fungi" by Dr. Roel Bovenberg from DSM (Netherlands). This biennial conference also presented the International Metabolic Engineering Award (expanded version of the previous Merck Metabolic Engineering Award) to the best metabolic engineer in the world. The 2010 International Metabolic Engineering Award went to Dr. E. Terry Papoutsakis from the University of Delaware (USA) who has contributed to the production of biobutanol through the metabolic engineering of Clostridia in the last three decades, and he gave an award lecture. Dr. Sang Yup Lee, the current chair of the upcoming conference, was the previous recipient of this award at the last metabolic engineering conference in 2008. In addition to the invited lectures, a total of 156 carefully selected poster papers were chosen for presentation, and awards were presented to the best posters after rigorous review by the committee members. Such awards included "The 2010 Metabolic Engineering Best Poster Award" and the "2010 Young Metabolic Engineer Award" from the Metabolic Engineering conference, and prestigious international journal awards, including "Wiley Biotechnology Journal Best Poster Award", "Wiley Biotechnology and Bioengineering Best Poster Award" and "Elsevier Metabolic Engineering Best Paper Award." Dr. Catherine Goodman, a senior editor of Nature Chemical Biology, also presented the "Nature Chemical Biology Best Poster Award on Metabolic Engineering." Regarding this conference, Dr. Sang Yup Lee, the conference chair, said, "This conference is the best international conference in the field of metabolic engineering, which is held every two years, and Korea is the first Asian country to host it. All the experts and students spend time together from early breakfast to late poster sessions, which is a distinct feature of this conference. Although the number of delegates had typically been limited to 200, around 300 delegates were selected this year to accept more attendees from many people who have been interested in metabolic engineering. Also, it is very fitting that "green growth" is the main topic of this conference because Korea is playing a key role in this field. I"m grateful to the Lotte Scholarship Foundation, COFCO, GS Caltex, Bioneer, US DOE, US NSF, Daesang, CJ Cheiljedang, Genomatica and DuPont who provided us with generous financial support that allowed the successful organization of this conference." The conference was organized by the Systems Biology Research Project Team supported by the Ministry of Eduction, Science and Technology (MEST), Microbial Frontier Research Project Group, World Class University Project Group at KAIST, Institute for the BioCentury at KAIST, Korean Society for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and the Engineering Conference International (ECI) of the United States. Inquiries: Professor Sang Yup Lee (+82-42-350-3930), firstname.lastname@example.org
New drug targeting method for microbial pathogens developed using in silico cell
A ripple effect is expected on the new antibacterial discovery using “in silico” cells Featured as a journal cover paper of Molecular BioSystems A research team of Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee at KAIST recently constructed an in silico cell of a microbial pathogen that is resistant to antibiotics and developed a new drug targeting method that could effectively disrupt the pathogen"s growth using the in silico cell. Hyun Uk Kim, a graduate research assistant at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, KAIST, conducted this study as a part of his thesis research, and the study was featured as a journal cover paper in the February issue of Molecular BioSystems this year, published by The Royal Society of Chemistry based in Europe. It was relatively easy to treat infectious microbes using antibiotics in the past. However, the overdose of antibiotics has caused pathogens to increase their resistance to various antibiotics, and it has become more difficult to cure infectious diseases these days. A representative microbial pathogen is Acinetobacter baumannaii. Originally isolated from soils and water, this microorganism did not have resistance to antibiotics, and hence it was easy to eradicate them if infected. However, within a decade, this miroorganism has transformed into a dreadful super-bacterium resistant to antibiotics and caused many casualties among the U.S. and French soldiers who were injured from the recent Iraqi war and infected with Acinetobacter baumannaii. Professor Lee’s group constructed an in silico cell of this A. baumannii by computationally collecting, integrating, and analyzing the biological information of the bacterium, scattered over various databases and literatures, in order to study this organism"s genomic features and system-wide metabolic characteristics. Furthermore, they employed this in silico cell for integrative approaches, including several network analysis and analysis of essential reactions and metabolites, to predict drug targets that effectively disrupt the pathogen"s growth. Final drug targets are the ones that selectively kill pathogens without harming human body. Here, essential reactions refer to enzymatic reactions required for normal metabolic functioning in organisms, while essential metabolites indicate chemical compounds required in the metabolism for proper functioning, and their removal brings about the effect of simultaneously disrupting their associated enzymes that interact with them. This study attempted to predict highly reliable drug targets by systematically scanning biological components, including metabolic genes, enzymatic reactions, that constitute an in silico cell in a short period of time. This research achievement is highly regarded as it, for the first time, systematically scanned essential metabolites for the effective drug targets using the concept of systems biology, and paved the way for a new antibacterial discovery. This study is also expected to contribute to elucidating the infectious mechanism caused by pathogens. "Although tons of genomic information is poured in at this moment, application research that efficiently converts this preliminary information into actually useful information is still lagged behind. In this regard, this study is meaningful in that medically useful information is generated from the genomic information of Acinetobacter baumannii," says Professor Lee. "In particular, development of this organism"s in silico cell allows generation of new knowledge regarding essential genes and enzymatic reactions under specific conditions," he added. This study was supported by the Korean Systems Biology Project of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and the patent for the development of in silico cells of microbial pathogens and drug targeting methods has been filed. [Picture 1 Cells in silico] [Picture 2 A process of generating drug targets without harming human body while effectively disrupting the growth of a pathogen, after predicting metabolites from in silico cells]
Prof. Lee"s Team Succeeds in Producing Plastics Without Use of Fossil Fuels
A team of scientists led by Prof. Sang-Yup Lee of the Department of Biological Sciences at KAIST have succeeded in producing the polymers used for everyday plastics through bioengineering, rather than through the use of fossil fuel based chemicals, the university authorities said on Tuesday (Nov. 24). This groundbreaking research, which may now allow for the production of environmentally conscious plastics, has been published in two papers in the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering. Polymers are molecules found in everyday life in the form of plastics and rubbers. The team consisted of scientists from KAIST and Korean chemical company LG Chem focused their research on polylactic acid (PLA), a bio-based polymer which holds the key to producing plastics through natural and renewable resources. "The polyesters and other polymers we use everyday are mostly derived from fossil oils made through the refinery or chemical process," said Lee. "The idea of producing polymers from renewable biomass has attracted much attention due to the increasing concerns of environmental problems and the limited nature of fossil resources. PLA is considered a good alternative to petroleum based plastics as it is both biodegradable and has a low toxicity to humans." Until now PLA has been produced in a two-step fermentation and chemical process of polymerization, which is both complex and expensive. Now, through the use of a metabolically engineered strain of E.coli, the team has developed a one-stage process which produces polylactic acid and its copolymers through direct fermentation. This makes the renewable production of PLA and lactate-containing copolymers cheaper and more commercially viable. "By developing a strategy which combines metabolic engineering and enzyme engineering, we"ve developed an efficient bio-based one-step production process for PLA and its copolymers," said Lee. "This means that a developed E. coli strain is now capable of efficiently producing unnatural polymers, through a one-step fermentation process," This combined approach of systems-level metabolic engineering and enzyme engineering now allows for the production of polymer and polyester based products through direct microbial fermentation of renewable resources. "Global warming and other environmental problems are urging us to develop sustainable processes based on renewable resources," concluded Lee. "This new strategy should be generally useful for developing other engineered organisms capable of producing various unnatural polymers by direct fermentation from renewable resources".
Prof. Sang-Yup Lee Founding Member of Board of Editors of mBop
Prof. Sang-Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST has been appointed as one of the founding board of editors of the mBio which will be launched next year, the university reported on Friday (Nov. 20). mBio is the American Society for Microbiology"s first all-online, open access journal which will be launched in next May. According to the mBio website, the journal"s scope "will reflect the enormity of the microbial world, a highly interconnected biosphere where microbes interact with living and non-living matter to produce outcomes that range from symbiosis to pathogenesis, energy acquisition and conversion, climate change, geologic change, food and drug production, and even animal behavioral change." Prof. Lee, LG Chem Chair Professor, is currently the Dean of the College of Life Science and Bioengineering and director of the Center for Systems and Synthetic Biotechnology. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Seoul National Univeristy in Korea and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. As of September 2009, he has published 298 journal papers and has more than 440 patents either registered or applied. Also, he has published 47 books/book chapters, "Systems Biology and Biotechnology of Escherichia Coli" being the latest. His research interests are systems biology and biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and nanobiotechnology. In particular, he has pioneered systems metabolic engineering, which integrates systems biology with metabolic engineering, for the development of micropoganisms possessing superior properties for industrial applications.
Prof. Lee"s Team Pioneers Biotechnological Production of Chemical Using Renewable Materials
A research team led by Prof. Sang-Yup Lee of the Bio and Brain Engineering Department at KAIST has succeeded in engineering the bacterium E. coli to produce the industrial chemical putrescine, university authorities said on Monday (Aug. 31). Putrescine, a four carbon chain diamine, is an important platform chemical with a wide range of applications for the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and chemical industries. It is currently used to synthesize nylon-4,6, a widely used engineering plastic. The research result, published in the Biotechnology and Bioengineering journal, proviDrdes a renewable alternative to the traditional process using fossil fuels. Currently the production of putrescine on an industrial scale relies on chemical synthesis, which requires non-renewable petrochemicals and expensive catalyst systems. This process is highly toxic and flammable with potentially severe repercussions for both the environment and human health. "For the first time we have developed a metabolically engineered E. coli strain that efficiently produces putrescine," said Professor Lee. "The development of a bio-refinery for chemicals and materials is very important in a world where dependency on fossil fuels is an increasing concern." The team developed a strain of E.coli capable of producing putrescine through metabolic engineering. This is where a cell"s metabolic and regulatory networks are enhanced in order to increase production of a needed material. First the team weakened or deleted competing metabolic pathways within the E. coli strain before deleting pathways which cause putrescine degradation. They also amplified the crucial enzyme Spec C, which converts the chemical ornithine into putrescine. Finally the putrescine exporter, which allows excretion of intracellularly made putrescine, was engineered while a global regulator was engineered to further increase the concentration of putrescine. The final result of this process was an engineered E.coli strain which produced 24.2 g of putrescine per litre. However, as it was believed that putrescine is toxic to microorganisms the team had to study putrescine tolerance in E.coli before it could be engineered to overproduce the chemical to the levels needed for industrial production. The results revealed that E. coli can tolerate at least 0.5 M of putrescine, which is tenfold higher than the usual concentration in the cell. This level of tolerance was an important surprise as it means that E. coli can be engineered to overproduce putrescine to industrially competitive levels. "The previously expected toxicity of putrescine may explain why its microbial production has been overlooked," said Lee. "Now a metabolically engineered E. coli strain has been developed which is capable of efficiently producing putrescine using renewable methods to an industrial level. This metabolic engineering framework should be useful for developing metabolically engineered microorganisms for the efficient production of other chemicals from renewable resources," he added.
KAIST College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering Signs MOU with Harvard
KAIST’s College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Harvard University’s Center for Brain Science on July 20, which will allow for joint research and exchange in researchers between the two institutions. Headed by Director Kenneth Blum, Harvard’s Center for Brain Science leads the world in brain-related research. The new MOU will allow for research cooperation, exchanges of professors, researchers, and students, joint usage of infrastructure and research materials, and finally, sharing of research assignments. The Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Bioengineering Sang Yup Lee, who concerted efforts to form the MOU said, “This agreement will bring together two of the world’s leading brain-related research teams, and I hope that combining their expertise will bring great advances in brain science and engineering. KAIST’s College of Life Science and Bioengineering, which is known for its creative interdisciplinary research, is producing exemplary research results in the field of brain science from its Biological Sciences and Bio and Brain Engineering departments. In addition to cooperation with Harvard, KAIST has also formed partnerships with Emory University, Japan’s RIKEN Brain Institute, and Germany’s Max Planck Institute. Not only does it have a worldwide network pertaining to brain research, but KAIST has also engaged in cooperative research with prominent domestic institutions such as, Asan Medical Center, the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, and the SK Corporation. Through these connections, KAIST has managed to lead in mutually cooperative brain interdisciplinary research.
KAIST Professor Sang-Yup Lee Chair of International Metabolic Engineering Conference Due Next Year
KAIST distinguished professor Sang-Yup Lee was named to chair the 17th Metabolic Engineering Conference which will convene on Jeju Island, Korea, next year, under the theme of "Metabolic Engineering for Green Growth." It was decided at the 16th Biochemical Engineering Conference held in Burlington, Vermont, on July 5-9. Metabolic Engineering Conference in 2010 will not only involve presentations and discussions about metabolic engineering, but will inaugurate the “World Council on Industrial Biotechnology,” which will bring together global corporations and the world’s experts in industrial biochemical engineering, according to sources at KAIST. A KAIST official commented, “The fact that the Metabolic Engineering Conference is to be held here [in Korea] proves that Korea is being acknowledged as a key player in this field.” As the world faces the depletion of fossil fuels and environmental pollution, nations are showing increasing interest in industrial biochemical alternatives, such as microscopic organisms or new chemicals, to solve their problems. In addition, efficient production of biochemical materials and bio-fuels using microbes is deemed vital for the future. “The Korean government has become a model to other countries thanks to its leadership in carrying out the ‘Green Growth’ policy,” Professor Sang-Yup Lee said. He stated that KAIST is recognized for its research in advanced biochemical material and fuel production methods. “Green Growth,” a concept first developed by ESCAP, the UN agency working for social and economic cooperation in Asia and the Pacific, aims to achieve sustainable economic growth without destroying the environment. Ref. Department of Biochemical Engineering, Metabolic and BioMolecular Engineering Lab, KAIST
Prof. Sang-Yup Lee Receives Merck Award for Metabolic Engineering
Prof. Sang-Yup Lee of KAIST"s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has been chosen as the winner of the 2008 Merck Award for Metabol;ic Engineering established by the world"s leading pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck, KAIST officials said Tuesday, Sept. 16. The Distinguished Professor of KAIST and LG Chem Chair Professor will receive the award on Sept. 18 during the 7th Metabolic Engineering convention now underway at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Prof. Lee will give a commemorative lecture, titled "Systems Metabolic Engineering for Chemicals," at the biannual academic conference. Prof. Lee is the fourth to win the coveted award which is given to the world"s top expert in metabolic engineering with outstanding achievements in the field. Prof. Lee, 44, who graduated from Seoul National University and earned his master"s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Northwestern University of the United States, is now the dean of the College of Life Science and Bioengineering, KAIST. Since 1994, he has served as the head of the Metabolic and Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratory, director of the BioProcess Engineering Center, Director of the Bioinformatics Research Center and Co-Director of the Institute for the BioCentury in KAIST. Prof. Lee said he was receiving the Merck award "as a representative of KAIST graduates, students and researchers" who have worked with him at the Metabolic Engineering Lab. He added he was happy to see the outcome of bioengineering development projects supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology over the past years was now being recognized by the world"s leading scientific society with the Merck Award. Metabolic engineering, the art of optimizing genetic and regulatory processes within cells to increase the cell"s production of a certain substance, develops technologies that hold the key to the resolution of the world"s energy, food and environmental problems. The indispensible technology in bioengineering can be applied to the production of biomass to obtain alternative fuel. Prof. Lee has actively participated in publishing such academic periodicals as Biotechnology Journal (as chief editor), Biotechnology and Bioengineering (deputy editor) and Metabolic Engineering (a member of the editorial committee).
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