Special Lecture by Nobel Laureate Professor Joachim Frank 2023.09.13
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Special Lecture by Nobel Laureate Professor Joachim Frank

-Introduction of the first cryo-electron microscope in a domestic comprehensive private university at the Cooperative Center for Research Facilities

-Commemorative event for the introduction of cryo-electron microscope (Cryo-EM) equipment on the 18th

Our university has established the "Cryo-Electron Microscope (Cryo-EM)," which will lead various studies in biotechnology, including the study of the coronavirus, as the first comprehensive private university in Korea at the Cooperative Center for Research Facilities. The university is planning to hold an inauguration ceremony on September 18th (Monday) at 10:00 a.m. at Sungkyunkwan University's Natural Sciences Campus in Suwon.

In particular, at this event, Professor Joachim Frank (Columbia University), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 for his contribution to the development of the cryo-electron microscope for high-resolution structural determination of biomolecules, will deliver a special lecture on the topic of "Cryo-EM: Visualizing the building blocks of life in their native states." There will also be an invited symposium for domestic professors in the field of cryo-electron microscopy.

The newly introduced Cryo-EM, which includes construction costs of approximately 13 billion KRW, will provide services not only to university researchers but also to external institutions by introducing state-of-the-art research infrastructure, including a 300kV Cryo-TEM, a 200kV Cryo-TEM, and a Cryo-FIB for cryogenic sample preparation, among other auxiliary analysis equipment, which is the highest level in Korea.

▲ Cryo-EM(left) and Cryo-FIB(right)

An electron microscope (EM) is a microscope that uses an electron beam as its source of illumination, allowing for a resolution thousands of times higher than that of a light microscope, enabling atomic-level image analysis. Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) technology freezes samples such as proteins, microorganisms, and cells at extremely low temperatures (-196°C) for observation using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), allowing for the analysis of three-dimensional structures at the atomic level. It is expected to play a significant role in elucidating the structures of novel viruses, including the COVID-19 virus, and major proteins in living organisms, contributing to drug and vaccine development. It is also expected to make significant contributions to research in various material fields that require observation at low temperatures, such as batteries, solar cells, and catalysts.

Three researchers, including Professor Joachim Frank, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 for their contributions to the development of Cryo-EM equipment and the analysis of protein structures at the atomic level through pioneering work in the field of biochemistry. Professor Joachim Frank will deliver a special lecture at the inauguration ceremony.

The Cooperative Center for Research Facilities now has state-of-the-art research equipment, including the newly constructed Cryo-EM facility and 300kV Cryo-TEM, 200kV Cryo-TEM, and Cryo-FIB, and the latest sample preparation equipment, making it the top research infrastructure in Korea. In addition, the center plans to collaborate with the Supercomputing Center to establish clusters for high-resolution image acquisition and computational processing.

Through these efforts, Sungkyunkwan University plans to establish a bio-convergence research innovation platform by connecting outstanding research resources within the university and abroad, including brain science, precision medical diagnostics, CNS research, stem cells, and more. This initiative aims to lead research in the field of life sciences and propose a model of industry-academia-hospital-research cooperation to address national challenges.

In Korea, institutions that possess Cryo-EM equipment include the Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI), the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul National University, KAIST, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), and Busan National University. Among comprehensive private universities, Sungkyunkwan University is the first to establish Cryo-EM equipment in Korea.

Our university plans to continue enhancing its global research capabilities through the establishment of state-of-the-art research infrastructure, the activation of various interdisciplinary research initiatives, and the expansion of global research networks.

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