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‘You leave Seoul and hit Busan in less than 20 minutes’Says Dr. Tae-sik Lee, president of KICT, at a seminar hosted by an Italian think-tank in Seoul

“You leave Seoul by riding a hyperloop super high-speed train and you hit Busan in a little over a quarter of an hour!” This was what was introduced by Dr. Tai-sik Lee, president of the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering & Technology (KICT), at an Italian-Korean Science Club meeting in Seoul on March 30, 2017, which was hosted by President Prof. Francesco Canganella of the Science & Technology Office of the Italian Embassy in Seoul.

Attracting the attention of the participants at the meeting that night more than the ‘super train,’ perhaps, was a disclosure made by Dr. Lee who introduced an all-but imaginary dream cement named ‘Moon Concrete’ that had an incomparably large number of uncontested advantages compared with conventional cement.

President Francesco Canganella of the Science & Technology Office of the Italian Embassy in Seoul and Mrs. Canganella (seventh and eighth from left, respectively, at the front row) pose with the participants at an Italian-Korean Science Club meeting in Seoul on March 30, 2017. On the right of Mrs. Canganella is President Dr. Tai-sik Lee of the Korean Institute of Civil Engineering and on the left of President Canganell is Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language media outlets.

Dr. Lee also gave his ideas on innovative facilities/vehicles for Mars exploration.

Lee introduced “Future technology in civil engineering--Smart Cities and Space Technology”--addressing many aspects of medium- and long-term projects on applied engineering, from the high-speed hyperloop transportation to energy-saving infrastructure, and even innovative facilities/vehicles for Moon and Mars exploration.

About 35 people attended the meeting and showed a great extent of interest in the topics covered by the speech of Prof. Lee.

Among participants were Dr. Dae Young Kwon, president of the Korean Food Research Institute, Prof. Young-Sook Kim of Cheongju University (president of the Association of Asian Women Scientists), Profs. Kwang-Seon Shin of Seoul National University, Jessie Sungyun Jeon of KAIST, Gi-un Kim of Seokyeong University, Ick-han Lee (director of the International Cooperation Division at National Research Council of Science & Technology), Enrico Drioli of Hanyang University, Stefano Scopel of Sogang University, Graziano Rossi of Sejong University and Edoardo Magnone of Dongguk University. There also were Drs. Grazia Accardo of KIST, Dario Rosa of KIAS and Claudio Saracini –of Ewha University in Seoul.

Italy, according to Prof. Canganella, was one of the first countries in the world to start diplomatic relationships with Korea, 133 years ago. Since then contacts and exchanges have been extremely good in many issues, particularly culture, business and science.

Not many people are aware that there are many affinities between the two peninsulas, and Italy should not be known just for itscuisine or for the “3 Fs of the export” (food, fashions, Furniture).

As a matter of fact, he said, Italy has a long tradition in terms of both basic and applied science, and it is usually ranked among the top 3 in the world for research productivity (publications per R&D expenditure, source: International Comparative Performance of the U.K. Research Base, data OECD/Scopus).

In order to increase the awareness of Italy also as a country of excellence in science, foster bilateral cooperation as well as scientific exchanges between the countries, two years ago the Science and Technology Office of the Italian Embassy launched the “Italy-Korea Science Club”.

The “Club” is composed of both Italian and Korean scientists that have the chance to show their research, share professional experiences as well as ideas about mutual cooperation. Some participants are important members of Korean scientific community, others are Italian scientists working in Korea or members of delegations coming from Italy for bilateral symposia and research projects held by the Italian Embassy.

The monthly event is hosted atthe residence of Prof. Canganella, and it is arranged as a seminar where a talk is given by a voluntary speaker in turn.

Basics on the area of research, current activities, potential implications for the common people and key aspects of bilateral cooperation, are covered. A Q&A session follows, so that participants can deepen their knowledges and look for convergence/synergy with their field of research.

The Science and Technology Office at the Italian Embassy in Seoul in the present year will continue to support and supervise bilateral exchanges on many issues, agreements and joint projects.

Such a work will address both basic sciencesand innovative S&T research activities that potentially could lead to significant economical and industrial advantages for both Countries.

In 2017 highly interesting bilateral symposia will be organized, covering: Personalized Medicine (April 11th), Brain Sciences (May), Quantum Physics (June), Water System Engineering (September), Applied Technologies to Cultural Heritage (October), and Sustainable Fishery and Aquaculture (November).

For further information: scitec.ambseoul@esteri.it.

Bilateral symposium on personalized medicine

Comparing Italy and Korea, it’s clear that many aspects in science and research are promising for potential and future collaborations.

There are differences of course: Korea has many excellences in infrastructures, large equipment and financial investments; on the other hand Italy has a long tradition in basic science, university education and excellent quality of research manpower. So the countries could be complementary in terms of mutual collaborations, and many synergic opportunities may be exploited even in biomedical sciences.

The cooperation between Italy and Korea in the field of science and technology has a long tradition, which in recent times had many rewarding confirmations.

The bilateral symposium on “Personalized medicine”, taking place on April 11th at The Plaza Hotel is one of those, and the subject that has been chosen is related to an important issue of highest concern in the international biomedical community: Personalized Medicine and Innovative Technologies for Human Health.

Personalized medicine is defined as “A form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease”. For instance, in cancer it uses specific information about a person’s tumor to help diagnose, plan treatment, find out how well treatment is working, or make a prognosis.

The symposium is part of the Bilateral Forum on Pharma-Biotech that the Italian Embassy has strongly supported and entirely sponsored, in cooperation with the Italian Trade Agency.

“It was organized and proposed to Korean counterparts in order to foster research and industrial cooperation in the field, since the worldwide emerging importance of the topic in many areas of medicine, pharmaceutics, biology, and biotechnology. Four pharma-biotech Italian companies will attend the symposium as well as the Forum, including the participation to the BIOKOREA Fair.”- Prof. Francesco Canganella (Science Attaché of the Italian Embassy) says.

Italy has been indeed developing an intense research activity on this issue and definitely acquiring a leadership at international level, being at the forefront of cutting-edge biomedical sciences.

The legacy to Leonardo da Vinci, who began investigations on human physiology 500 years ago, represents the milestone and foundation of Italian biomedical research, today at the vanguard in many areas, including wearable biosensors, rehabilitation robotics, aging, oncology, neurology, and infectious diseases.

It is worth to mention that the long tradition of excellence in the field has led to 5 Nobel laureates only in medicine.

As far as regard biomedical collaborations with Korea, Italy has established joint research activities on bio-robotics, immunology and biochemistry, as well as industrial relationships on pharma-biotech issues.

More common initiatives in research and industrial partnership are in progress in immunology (International Vaccine Institute), biotechnology, and pharmaceutics, whereas further academic cooperation is expected, including dual degrees at Master and PhD level.

After the present symposium others will be organized on: Brain Sciences (May), Quantum Physics (June), Water System Engineering (September), Applied Technologies to Cultural Heritage (October), and Sustainable Fishery and Aquaculture (November).

For further information: scitec.ambseoul@esteri.it.

Yoo Heui-Jin  edt@koreapost.com

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