Intramural Distinguished Professor, Ewha Fellows and Emerging Ewha Fellow were Selected As Ewha is concentrating efforts on enhancing its status as a research-oriented university, the faculty positions of Intramural Distinguished Professor, Ewha Fellows and Emerging Ewha Fellow were selected to take the lead in achieving notable outcomes on an international scale. Ewha has selected Ewha faculty members who are elevating the prestige of Ewha through vigorous research activities and outstanding achievements in order to further support research and academic activities at Ehwa. This year, Ewha designated Professor Goo Taeg Oh at the Department of Life Science as an Intramural Distinguished Professor, Professor Ick-Joong Chung at the Department of Social Welfare, Professor Dong Ha Kim at the Division of Chemistry & Nano Science, and Professor Ahjeong Son at the Division of Environmental Science & Engineering as Ewha Fellows, and Professor Tae-Jin Song at the Department of Medicine as an Emerging Ewha Fellow. (From left) Distinguished Professor Goo Taeg Oh, Ewha Fellows Professors Ick-Joong Chung, Dong Ha Kim and Ahjeong Son, and Emerging Ewha Fellow Professor Tae-Jin Song Under the vision of “A Creative and Innovative Platform Leading to a Sustainable Society,” Ewha launched the Headquarters for R&D General Planning in 2021 with the aim to build an ecosystem to create world-class outcomes, and conducted various projects to strengthen Ewha’s research competitiveness, such as selecting the Frontier 10-10 Project. This year, Ewha plans to create an optimal environment for its members to immerse themselves in education and research by focusing on the establishment of a support system for sustainable creative research, such as expansion of the compensation system for excellent research faculty, establishment of an immersive research environment tailored to academic fields and research characteristics, expansion of support to facilitate research activities by the next generation of academics, etc.
Ewha Opens Children’s Environmental Health Clinic in Korea (CHECK) and Institute of Ewha – SCL for Environmental Health (IESEH) in Collaboration with Ewha Medical Center and SCL With the aim to facilitate global cooperation on research to improve the environment and health, Ewha, Ewha Medical Center and Seoul Clinical Laboratories (SCL) opened “Children’s Environmental Health Clinic in Korea (CHECK)” and “Institute of Ewha – SCL for Environmental Health (IESEH)” on March 23 (Wed.) as institutions dedicated to conducting studies on the promotion of the environment and health. Amid growing interest in coexistence between humans and nature and preemptive responses to various environmental threats in the post-COVID-19 era, Ewha established CHECK and the IESEH to investigate the environmental impact on the health of human beings, including children and women, and to identify measures to provide accurate information on environmental threats and improve health. As Korea’s first clinic specializing in pediatric environmental health, CHECK will take the lead in developing a clinical examination model for recent topics of interest such as precocious puberty, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. By researching and providing education on the connection between children’s diseases and environmental substances, the clinic will identify measures to enhance the environmental health of children and women in Korea, and further lead environmental research and education on an international scale. Established alongside CHECK, the IESEH will research methods to establish women’s cohorts, presents environmental health trends in the post-COVID-19 era, research the development of health screening models, research birth cohort studies on children’s environmental health through national networks, etc. In a congratulatory speech, President Eun Mee Kim remarked, “In the post-COVID-19 era, we need to preemptively respond to threats against human health and prepare detailed and sophisticated countermeasures for health effects on vulnerable groups, especially children, the elderly, and those with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.” She then added, “It is my hope that the Institute of Ewha – SCL for Environmental Health will take the initiative in convergence education and R&D efforts by developing guidelines for environmental clinics, proposing environmental health solutions and establishing cohorts of children and women, based on the linkage model between clinics and research institutes as the foundation for convergence research combining clinical medicine and environmental medicine.” The seminar that followed was held to share plans and goals of research activities and to discuss ways to operate CHECK and the IESEH with a view to facilitate their development. In addition, special lectures were delivered by Professor Ruth A. Etzel of George Washington University and Professor Michelle L. Bell of Yale University under the theme of “A Giant Leap Toward a Healthier Environment for All Children and Adults: Prospects, Clinical Applications and Public Health Research from Ewha to the Global Stage,” which further added to the meaningful nature of the occasion.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Ewha Selected as the Best Institution in Animal TestingThe Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Ewha Selected as the Best Institution in Animal Testing The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of Ewha received the 2021 Best Award from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) in recognition of its excellence in animal experiments. The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA), an affiliated organization of the MAFRA, annually inspects and evaluates every IACUC in Korea, which are committees established and operated by each institution conducting animal tests to ensure the protection and ethical treatment of animals as well as guide and supervise experiments. Established in 2008, the Ewha IACUC is affiliated with the Center for Research Compliance and under the direct control of the Ewha president. It has thoroughly supervised and managed animal experiments in accordance with the Animal Protection Act and the Laboratory Animal Act to conduct animal tests ethically and safely and to operate facilities properly. In the 2021 field supervision conducted by the APQA, Ewha received a high rating and became selected as the best institution, winning a ministerial award. Goo Taeg Oh, Director of the Ewha IACUC and professor of Life Sciences, remarked, “This award is a recognition of the reliability of Ewha’s animal experiments based on bioethics, and also a fruit of Ewha’s continuous interest and investment in the field.” Jung-Sun Kim, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Director of the Center for Research Compliance, also commented, “Ewha will strive to become a research-oriented university that conducts research that is not only ethically and scientifically sound but also legally compliant based on the awareness that ethical consideration and social responsibility are the most important aspects of creative research in the field of life science and medicine.”
Professor Andreas Heinrich Wins Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Award Andreas Heinrich, director of the IBS Center for Quantum Nanoscience (QNS) will deliver the Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Award Lecture on December 17, 2021 at the Max Plank Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. This award has been given since 2016 to world renown scientists who are leading their field. Heinrich will give a lecture on quantum spins on surfaces at the institute and receive the award. Heinrich is a pioneer of the quantum nanoscience field, which is at the intersection of quantum science and nanoscience. In November of this year, Heinrich along with leading researchers in the field published a review paper entitled ‘Quantum-Coherent Nanoscience’ in Nature Nanotechnology presenting the definition of the field. Heinrich’s research is focused on this quantum properties of individual atoms and molecules on surfaces. His first major scientific breakthrough was single spin spectroscopy on surfaces using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). He additionally invented the ESR-STM technique while a scientist at IBM by combining the atomic-scale spatial resolution of STM with the much higher energy resolution of electron spin resonance (ESR) to achieve an extraordinary advance in atom-level resolution. At QNS there are now a growing number of ESR-enabled STMs making it a sought after research destination. QNS is engineering the quantum future with the leading researchers from around to world. The Max Plank Institute for Biophysical Chemistry is also known as the Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer Institute. This institute is the only one within the Max Plank Society which combines the three classical disciplines of biology, physics and chemistry. Heinrich said “I am pleased and honored to receive the award for scientists who contributed in interdisciplinary research”. Heinrich also received the Heinrich Rohrer Medal on December 2021, awarded by the Japan Society of Vacuum and Surface Science.
Ewha and the Institute for Basic Science Launch Academia-research Collaboration Course Ewha established an academia-research collaboration course with the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) for the first time among domestic universities and will recruit students for master’s and doctoral courses from spring semester 2022 onward. The academia-research collaboration course is aimed at fostering advanced technical specialists with a differentiated edge over conventional master’s or doctoral degree-holders through collaboration between research institutes conducting various research and universities in charge of talent development in related fields. The students enrolled in the academia-research collaboration course will take basic subjects at Ewha, participate in research projects and conduct research for their thesis at research institutes, and grow into advanced technical specialists equipped with both the theoretical and practical skills to lead the development of advanced technologies in industries. Since the launch of master’s and doctoral programs for academia-research collaboration in 1994, Ewha has established its status as a research-oriented university through academic exchanges and research collaboration with leading institutions including the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, the National Cancer Center, the National Forensic Service, and the National Institute of Ecology. As of the 2021 academic year, various departments such as the Department of Life Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Nanoscience, Department of Food Science and Engineering, Department of Pharmacy, and Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management are operating academia-research collaboration courses in partnership with leading research institutes. Ewha has implemented various projects to solidify its status as a research-oriented university with world-class research capabilities under the vision of “A Creative and Innovative Platform Leading to a Sustainable Society,” and the newly-established academia-research collaboration course with the IBS is expected to facilitate the generation of innovative research results in science and technology and nurturing women professionals. The IBS is a research institute established in 2011 for world-class basic science research and encompasses 30 research centers in the field of mathematics, physics, chemistry, life sciences, and convergence. Ewha launched the IBS Center for Quantum Nanoscience in 2017 under the leadership of Professor Andreas Heinrich from the Department of Physics and has since conducted world-class quantum nanoscience research. In addition, Visiting Chair-Professor Han In-sik took office as director of the IBS Center for Exotic Nuclear Studies (CENS) and has contributed to expanding the horizon of basic science research based on the network with the IBS. The establishment of the Ewha-IBS academia-research collaboration course, which will serve as a new model for the creation of a creative research ecosystem, was led by faculty members from the Department of Science Education and the Department of Physics, and CENS researchers. Concurrent with the launch, doctoral students from the Graduate School of Physics are expected to enroll in the course and continue their studies and research. Visiting Chair-Professor Han In-sik from the Department of Science Education remarked, “The Ewha-IBS academia-research collaboration course has now taken its first step with the participation of the Department of Science Education and the Department of Physics, and we expect the course to be expanded to other departments in the future to support active collaboration with the IBS in fields of basic science research.” Meanwhile, in commemoration of the launch of the Ewha-IBS academia-research collaboration course, the “2021 CENS Workshop” was co-hosted by the Department of Physics and the CENS at the Science Building from Wednesday, November 24 to Friday, November 26. At the workshop’s opening ceremony, Ewha faculty members and the IBS CENS researchers gave presentations on various topics.
Research Team Led by Professor Choi Hye-Won Gains Attention with Humanities-based AI Research Improving AI speech recognition performance by collecting non-native speech data of Korean from speakers of 65 languages Expecting the humanities-based AI research to further contribute to the globalization of the Korean Wave The “Language and Artificial Intelligence” research team led by Professor Choi Hye-Won from the Division of English Language and Literature has conducted a non-native Korean speech data project for The Open AI Dataset Project (AI-Hub) for 2021, which was supervised by the Ministry of Science and ICT and supported by the National Information Society Agency. The project is being implemented as part of the government’s “Digital New Deal” policy and regarded as the core project of the “Data Dam,” aimed at promoting Korea’s leap forward as an AI powerhouse and the intelligent innovation as measures to facilitate innovation across the state and society, while supporting the construction and development of AI learning data for the purpose of job creation. The research team received 200 million KRW from the government funding of 1.9 billion KRW assigned to the consortium formed with five other domestic institutions, to carry out planning, designing and collecting non-native Korean speech data, and analyzing pronunciation errors in them until the end of 2021. The project aimed to enhance AI recognition of Korean speech by building non-native Korean speech data for AI learning. AI voice recognition technology is widely used in our daily lives as it is embedded in smartphones, AI speakers, navigation systems, and automatic translators. However, in reality, minority speakers such as the elderly, dialect users, and foreigners who entail atypical and distinct phonetic characteristics are typically excluded from the main subjects of AI voice recognition. As the model performance of recent AI that utilizes deep learning technologies is determined by the volume of data, it is difficult to reflect quantitatively minor languages. Recognizing this issue, the research team at Ewha attempted to supplement the limited volume of low-resource data, namely Korean speech by foreigners, using a data collection technique based on error analysis annotation. To this end, a data construction strategy was formulated based on the comparative study of speakers’ native phonetic and phonological systems, and Korean speech data was collected from speakers of 65 languages from 80 countries, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai. Currently, 2.5 million foreigners, forming five percent of the population, reside in South Korea, speaking Korean. The recent global popularity of the Korean Wave, manifested by cultural assets such as Parasite, Squid Game, and BTS, has drastically increased the interest toward the Korean language. Amidst the exponential increase in the number of foreigners learning Korean in and out of Korea, the study by Professor Choi’s team is meaningful as it is expected to help meet the growing demand for Korean language education. Going forward, the study results are expected to contribute to research on improving the recognition rate of and developing a model for foreigners’ Korean speech, and help multicultural families, foreign workers, and foreign tourists to use various AI voice support services with greater ease. The findings are also expected to be put into meaningful use with countless possibilities for various learning tools, including the development of learning apps for efficient learning of the Korean language to assist the rapidly-growing number of Korean learners.
University-Industry Collaboration Foundation Hosts “Tech-Biz EWHA 2021” The Ewha University-Industry Collaboration Foundation (EUICF) held the Tech-Biz EWHA 2021 event at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10 to promote university-industry collaboration and the technology commercialization of outstanding research achievements possessed by Ewha. Tech-Biz EWHA 2021 was an event designed to promote Ewha’s promising future technologies, patents and research achievements and facilitate their technology transfer and commercialization through business networks. At the event, Ewha faculty members introduced 20 of Ewha’s latest cutting-edge technologies in the fields of new medicine, digital healthcare, IT, and new materials. The event also provided an opportunity to explore member companies of “EWHA Tech-Net” that have formed partnerships with Ewha and the affiliate companies of Ewha Womans University Technology Holding Company. The event commenced with opening remarks by EUICF President Lee Hyang-sook and congratulatory remarks by President Kim Eun Mee, followed by a technical presentation session where Ewha’s research teams presented outstanding technologies created by their research and development efforts. At the event, which was livestreamed through an online broadcasting platform, representatives of Ewha’s partner companies, technology buyers, and relevant organizations participated in exchanging their views and reviewing recent technology trends and Ewha’s excellent technological competence. The event also provided another opportunity to showcase Ewha’s capacity in leading innovative growth and balanced development through industry-academia collaboration with an introduction session for EWHA Tech-Net members that participated in Ewha’s cooperative activities, such as EnhancedBio Inc., Cellion Biomed Inc., and TODOC Co., Ltd., which is Ewha’s partner for the Business-linked Youth Technology Specialist Training Project, followed by an IR session for subsidiaries of Ewha Womans University Technology Holding Co., Ltd., namely I Say LAB Co., Ltd. and E-wireligner Co., Ltd. The video recording of the event is available on Ewha’s YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/UOBpeMFaYwo), and the technologies, current patents held by Ewha and researcher information introduced during the event are available on the Ewha IP-Marketplace (EPM) platform. The EUICF established the EPM (http://epm.ewha.ac.kr/) last October to facilitate technology commercialization and conduct effective marketing in accordance with recent trends in research and technology, subsequently providing services such as a real-time patent search function by technological field and researcher, and a real-time patent information search function linked to the intellectual property search service of the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS). The EUICF provides active support across the entire process of technology commercialization from intellectual property creation to technology transfer and startup launch by operating various programs: The EWHA TLO-Idea to Market (ETM), a support program for customized technology commercialization based on excellent research and performance at Ewha to take the lead in creating high-quality intellectual property and facilitating technology commercialization; Ewha Womans University Technology Holdings Co., Ltd., an organization responsible for the establishment of Ewha’s affiliate companies; and EWHA Tech-Net, a corporate membership program.
Professor Hyukjin Lee Wins Korean Scientist and Engineer of the Month Award Professor Hyukjin Lee at the College of Pharmacy was selected as the “Korean Scientist and Engineer of the Month” in recognition of his contribution toward developing lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) that can safely deliver messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics into the body. The Korean Scientist and Engineer of the Month Award, presented by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation of Korea, selects a recipient every month who has made a contribution of the development of science and technology with excellent research performance to receive the Minister of Science and ICT Prize. Professor Lee developed novel lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) that can effectively deliver mRNA substances that can be utilized as vaccines and biotherapeutics for various infectious diseases and incurable diseases including COVID-19. His group was the first team to succeed the development of LNP technology in Korea, thereby earning the November Korean Scientist and Engineer of the Month. Professor Lee developed LNPs that encapsulate and deliver mRNA therapeutics safely to target cells by using an ionizable lipid whose state changes depending on the surrounding pH conditions to enhance the transfection efficiency of mRNA therapeutics to target cells. The research team administered the mRNA encapsulated LNP into an animal model, confirming that a single injection could deliver mRNA therapeutics to more than 80% of target cells, which proved its validity as original technology for a safe and efficient drug delivery system, and published the findings in the online edition of Science Advances on February 26, 2021. This is the first LNP technology developed and patented domestically in South Korea and is expected to enable the development of effective and safe RNA therapeutics through a transfer agreement with EnhancedBio Inc., a bio-venture company that develops anti-cancer therapeutics. “The study offers an efficient drug delivery platform for mRNA, as a form of next-generation RNA therapeutics, to target cells, which is significant as the first LNPs to be developed and patented domestically,” Professor Lee explained. He also added, “This technology will be applied to the development of future RNA therapeutics and mRNA vaccines, and is expected to contribute to the development of the biopharmaceutical industry.”
Research Team Led by Professor Park Ji Hun Develops Nanocoating Technology Using Carbohydrate SubstanceResearch Team Led by Professor Park Ji Hun Develops Nanocoating Technology Using Carbohydrate Substance An undergraduate student of the Department of Science Education participated as a co-author in a research article published in Applied Surface Science, a top 5% international journal in the field of material science, coating and films. Graduate student Lee Hyunjung and undergraduate Han Yehee from Professor Park Ji Hun’s lab participated as a lead author and a co-author respectively in a research paper titled “Enhanced Deposition of Fe(III)-Tannic Acid Complex Nanofilm by Fe(III)-Embedded Dextran Nanocoating,” which explores an original technology to tune the thickness and roughness of a nanocoating layer as desired using a carbohydrate substance. The research team has focused on “dextran,” a carbohydrate substance which can be combined with iron. The team closely examined the formation process of dextran-iron compound and surface absorption characteristics. Based on this, the team identified the optimal conditions for forming a nanocoating layer, showing that a nanocoating layer can be a surface medium that can transfer iron and confirming the possibility of fine-tuning the thickness and surface properties of the coating layer as desired. The researchers were able to observe a layer more than three times thicker compared to results of preceding studies. This technology is meaningful as it can tune the properties of the coating layer and also constitutes complex nanocoating technology enabling the fusion of carbohydrates and polyphenol materials. Professor Park explained, “We expect this newly-developed nanocoating technology to create a synergy effect by fusing carbohydrates and polyphenol materials, which can be utilized for drug delivery and pharmaceutical studies.” Professor Park Ji Hun developed and patented an eco-friendly and robust nanocoating technology and studied its commercialization last October. In particular, a patent application was submitted and is currently being reviewed for the new nanocoating technology described above, which can be used for diverse applications including pharmaceutical research. Using such developed and accumulated nanocoating technologies, Professor Park plans to found an affiliate company of Ewha Womans University Technology Holding Company and release nanocoating products.
Professor Hwi Young Kim from Department of Medicine Develops AI-based Model to Predict Risk of Hepatocellular...Professor Hwi Young Kim from Department of Medicine Develops AI-based Model to Predict Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma among Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B Professor Hwi Young Kim developed an AI-based model named “PLAN-B” to predict the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with chronic hepatitis B. The multinational and multi-institutional clinical study, conducted jointly with foreign and domestic researchers including a research team led by Professor Jeong-Hoon Lee from the Department of Internal Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital, is drawing attention as it is expected to demonstrate high practical utility in real clinical practice by improving the prediction accuracy of hepatocellular carcinoma risk among patients with chronic hepatitis B for which prediction and preparation are vital. In collaboration with researchers at home and abroad, research teams led by Professors Kim and Lee analyzed the data of a total of 13,508 patients with chronic hepatitis B from 18 institutions across South Korea and 11 institutions across Europe and North America, applying the data to AI-based machine learning algorithms to develop “PLAN-B,” which is a prediction model for the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. “PLAN-B” is expected to be highly beneficial to practice as its prediction accuracy is significantly higher than that of existing prediction models. By providing more detailed analysis of hepatocellular carcinoma risk through a gradient-boosting machine algorithm, it will also contribute significantly to enabling treatment and patient management tailored to the characteristics of individual patients. First author Professor Kim remarked, “We developed a unique prediction model for hepatocellular carcinoma using artificial intelligence, and this study holds significant clinical implications as its efficacy was validated using large-scale patient data from the East and the West,” and explained, “PLAN-B will greatly help in identifying patients with high risk of hepatocellular carcinoma as well as those with very low risk.” PLAN-B was developed with support from “'Dr. Answer 2.0,” which is an AI-based precision medical solution development project. The research findings, titled “An Artificial Intelligence Model to Predict Hepatocellular Carcinoma Risk in Korean and Caucasian Patients with Chronic Hepatitis B,” were published in the online edition of Journal of Hepatology (IF = 25.083), a world-renowned academic journal in the field of gastrointestinal diseases and the official academic journal of the European Association of the Study of the Liver, on Friday, October 1. Professor Kim, an expert in liver diseases, is particularly recognized in the domestic and international academia for his outstanding research achievements in clinical epidemiologic studies and prediction model development for liver cancer, cirrhosis and fatty liver. He is also active as a member of the Publication Committee and the Public Relations Committee at the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver.