Adapted from School of Biological Sciences website.  

3rd Korea-Singapore International Conference on Bioscience & Biotechnology

By: Yang Xiaoqing, Guo Tiannan, Nurhuda Nordin
Photography: Gerard Lim Shing-Wan

The 3rd Korea-Singapore International Conference on Bioscience & Biotechnology (KSICBB2008) was held in the School of Biological Sciences, on 15-16 December 2008.

Korean delegation in KSICBB2008

KSICBB aims to promote fruitful discussions among participants from Korea and Singapore. It was first initiated by the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), NTU and Korea University (KU) in 2006, when a scientific delegation from Korea University visited SBS. In the following year, KSICBB participants from SBS visited Korea. This year, KSICBB2008 was organized by Professors Ho Sup Yoon (SBS, NTU), Tae Sung Kim (KU), Andrew Tan (SBS, NTU) and Man Bock GU (KU) together with Ms Oh Seok Fen (SBS, NTU) who assisted with administration and event coordination. A special feature of this year’s conference was the involvement of young scientists, especially graduate students, and academic staff.

The event started promptly at 10:30 am, Dec 15th, with Professor Alex Law, the Acting Chair of the School of Biological Sciences, NTU, announced the start of the conference in the auditorium of SBS.

There were three sessions in all during the two day program. Session I was chaired by Professor Gerhard Grüber and it started with Professor Mark Featherstone’s talk on “Coordinate regulation of a Hox gene and its embedded microRNA during differentiation and development”. The presented work was mainly performed by Calista Phua and Dr Thomas Lufkin under the guidance of Professor Featherstone.

From left: Professor Gerhard Grüber, Professor Mark Featherstone, Professor Tae Sung Kim and Professor Ravi Kambadur in KSICBB2008



Professor Tae Sung Kim, an expert on immunotherapy from the School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Korea University, was the second speaker. He presented his work on regulation of IL-4 / IL-12 production as therapeutic targets in T helper cell-based immunotherapy. The question and answer session during this talk was particularly lively as both students and academic staff eagerly sought answers from the speaker.

Day 1 lunch and poster session

 At the end of Session I, the program broke off for lunch and a poster session. Participants of KSICBB 2008 actively mingled around while enjoying lunch. The posters on display in SBS lobby were explained to interested onlookers by the authors. It was a beneficial session as Cho Sung Yan, a graduate student from Korea University, puts it, “This is an interesting conference. Singapore has many technologies that were new to me. Giving a talk also made me feel more involved.”

Professor Man Bock Gu from Korea University chaired Session II of KSICBB2008, a special forum for the young scientists including graduate students and academic staff from both Korea and Singapore. Session II was an interesting one as graduate students and academic staff came forward and presented on topics that ranged from Immunology to Mass Spectrometric Techniques.
Dongwon Choi from the Graduate School of Life Science and Biotechnology, Korea University was the first speaker in this session. He presented his latest finding that PHB-RNF2 interaction regulates E2F1 transcriptional activity and cell growth via dual pathway. It was an insightful talk as senior experienced scientists gave encouragement and guidance at the end of it.

One of the speakers, Nan Yang, from Dr Sze Chun Chau’s lab in SBS, the best student presentation winner in this conference, gave a refreshing talk about biosensors for pathogen detection.

The day ended with the last speaker, Tiannan Guo, from Dr Newman Sze’s lab in SBS, presented their progresses in applying the mass spectrometric techniques to address biological and biomedical questions.

Student speakers in KSICBB2008

Day 2 began with Session III on December 16th at the School of Biological Sciences (SBS). Session III had a mixture of professors and PhD students from both NTU and KU presenting and was chaired by Dr Andrew Tan, an Assistant Professor and Assistant Chair (Undergraduate Affairs) at SBS, NTU. Session III included Dr Julien Lescar, an Associate Professor at SBS, NTU; Dr Gerhard Grüber, an Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Division (Structural and Computational Biology) at SBS, NTU; Dr Sung-Joon Lee, an Associate Professor at KU and Visiting Professor at UC Berkeley; Dr Anirban Bhunia, a Research Fellow at SBS, NTU; graduate students Reema Alag, Aneira Gracia Hidayat Santoso, and Anil Kumar from NTU; and graduate students Sung Un Huh, Sung-Yun Cho, and Ee Taek Hwang from KU.

The first speaker, Dr Julien Lescar, started the session with “Structural studies of proteins from flaviviruses”. The project aimed for “design of antiviral inhibitors against the dengue virus and other flaviviuses” by identifying the structures of proteins related to viral replication. Structures of protein NS3 and protein NS5 were determined using X-ray crystallographic methods and their replication related activities were analyzed by site-directed mutagenesis.

Professor Alex Law presenting the Best Presentation Award to Nan Yang

Notable speakers such as Anil Kumar, who shared the topic “How ATP/ADP enters into the nucleotide binding pocket of subunit B of the A1AO ATP synthase”, and Sung-Yun Cho, who presented “Compound A from Plantago asiatica has hypocholesterolemic effects by downregulation of HMG-CoA reductase and SREBP-2”, kept to the time limit and were easily understood.

Best Presentation and Best Poster Award winners were announced at the end of the session. Nan Yang from NTU was the awarded the Best Student Speaker for the presentation in Day 1 Session II on “Biosensors for Pathogen Detection: Mapping E.coli Gene Expression in Biofilm”. The Best Poster Award went to Ji Young Mun and Sung Sik Han from KU who posted “Electron tomographic analysis of mitochondrial crista morphology”.

Acting Chair of SBS, Prof Alex Law awarded the winners and concluded that the conference was a great success and also wished all participants from Korea a pleasant stay in Singapore. By all accounts the conference was a major success with all participants looking forward to the next meeting.