TEDxDaedeokValley- SunHee Lee-Dynamic biology

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on 26.05.2011

The topic I'm presenting today is "Dynamic Biology."
The reason I chose this topic is
because I want to share what's so attractive about this Biology
which enchanted me and gave a wing to my dream.
I majored in Biology at college.
I wanted to continue my study as a researcher and going to graduate school,
but my parents desperately opposed it.
Especially my father was furious saying how many years
I'm going to spend in schools and said no.
Even if I had a dream of becoming a researcher, I was unsure about its future
and I got nervous about it. After some preparation I got a job at a bank.
Of course when I started my career at the bank as a full-time employee,
I got financially stable.
However, I asked myself thousands of times if this is what I really wanted
because I always had my dream of becoming a researcher and was so passionate about it.
When I was struggling like that, one of my closest friends recommended me a movie.
It was the Bucket List.
This "Bucket List" means a list of things
that a person writes down all the things that he/she ever dreamt.
Is there anyone here who saw this movie?
Oh, many of you did. When I was struggling with my future career,
I saw this movie and there is one line that still remains in my mind.
The two main characters were talking in front of the Pyramids in Egypt.
It's about the ancient Egyptians who had wonderful faith in death.
It's that when a person dies and go to the heaven, God asks you two questions
and decide whether send this person to heaven or hell.
The two questions were:
"Did you find true delight in your life?", and "Did you make other people's life pleasant?"
I was very much touched and encouraged by this line
and decided to show my desperate passion to my parents.
After I saw the movie, I told my parents carefully
about my dream of becoming a researcher,
then my very strict father gave me a sheet of paper
and a pen and said,
"If you can express your dream on this paper precisely, then do it.
And if your dream persuades me
and worthy I will allow you to go to grad school."
So I drew this picture on the paper,
and I drew it in front of my parents.
It shows that
a human cell has a DNA packed
containing gene information.
Since my father did not know what DNA was
so he said, "Why there's a skein of thread by the person, and what's it relevant to your dream."
I told my father confidently
that DNA contains all the genetical information of a person
and it's exquisitely packed. And I also said that it's an amazing thing,
and I want to research something
that will surprise the world.
After a few day, my father allowed me to go to grad school.
I guess he was touched
by my dream of being somebody who can benefit other people, too.
Problem came next.
It was hard to decide which grad school to go.
My parents told me why don't I go to just a normal one,
but I had known about UST since my college and decided to go there.
The reason why I chose UST is because it's famous among people in this field,
but people who aren't don't know about it so well.
There was a promotion video of UST during the break,
the fact that research institutes can be my campus was very attracting
and decided to come to UST, and then I started preparing for it.
Then what is this study about which I want to share with you, Biology.
I made a simple definition of it on my own.
Biology is a study that sheds new light on the existing theories
and it can change a paradigm.
A question mark outside of a certain boundary becomes an exclamation mark,
and that's exactly what's happening in us, living creatures.
If I suggest you three keys telling you that these are the keys
which enable us to eat, to think, and to act,
then what do you think these three keys are?
As the former speaker referred, the first key is DNA,
the second is RNA, and then protein.
These three things control our vital phenomenon,
and I'll tell you what biologists have changed
with these three keys.
First of all, in case of DNA which contains every genetic information of our body,
there are 60 trillion cells of it.
How long do you think it'll be
if you separate all the cells and link it into one line?
(Laugh) It's a little too much, right?
In this picture, this is the Sun and this is out planet Earth,
and the distance between these two planets
which isn't that far compared to other planets, is about 150,000 kilo meters.
And if you separate all the cells in your body and make it into a line,
then you can go around the Sun and the Planet 360 times.
This enormous amount of DNA is packed in our bodies.
I showed DNA structure a little earlier, as you know,
DNA is spiral structured, two twisted ladders.
The backbone of the DNA strand is made from alternating phosphate
and sugar residues Each type of base on one strand forms a bond with just one type of base on the other strand.
In other words, A bonds only to T, and C bonds only to G.
This sequence of bases is just genetic information of living organism.
With such results, structure of DNA has been discovered,
and in 2001 there was an innovative research result.
The human genome project's results was all reported.
And there was something which surprised life-scientists.
We have 3.2 billion base sequences in our body.
But there's only 33,000 genes
that encodes genetic information to protein.
On the other hand, there's 37,000 genes that does the same in rice which we eat every day.
Despite the fact that human is a higher animal, there's less number of genes.
This shocked life-scientists.
Life-scientists concluded that not the number,
but the function of gene is important and started to research on it.
That's how the post-genome era was began.
Then what kind of new ideas appeared
in the post-genome era?
In 2008, according to American research team that Korean-American scientist join
and take a leading role, the research team made a metal crystal structure
that they want to by using the character of complementary base pairing.
A diminutive gold particle sized 10 nm
was labeled DNA strand linker, and then As labeled different DNA sequence information,
gold particle binds together. Ultimately, It is possible that metal crystal structure is assembled
With this innovative idea,
scientists make crystal nano-particle using blueprint with different DNA sequence.
scientists make crystal nano-particle using blueprint
with different DNA sequence.
And a new door has been opened for making scaffold
with property that fit the goals.
You see two actors here, Kim Myeong-min, and Song Sae-byuk.
They both had been unknown actors for almost 10 years
became movie stars now.
There is a super star in our body, too, which had been discovered for 10 years
but hasn't been so popular.
It's micro RNA.
This micro RNA does not encode genetic information in protein
and it's short. Then why life-scientists are interested in this?
As its creation electric generation was discovered,
researches about it had been done actively.
Recently, there was a new research reporting that this micro RNA makes generated skin cells,
or eye cells into an ancient cells which enables us to generate it
into any cell we want.
In 2006, Japanese research team generated induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)
for the first time by using only four transcription factors.
And the efficiency of generating iPSC was 100 times better.
If researches about stem cell using micro RNA improves,
blinded marathoner may have a hope of seeing the environment
while he's running, and a gymnast
who has been dreaming of it for her life time
but unfortunately became general paralysis
can dream of starting gymnasium again.
The last key of living organism is protein.
This is a picture of protein in 3D.
The reason why protein is so very important is
because if this work abnormally the notorious cancer might occur.
Do you really think that human race can overcome cancers?
(Laugh) I really wish so,
and cancer is being researched very hard in life-science field.
And in 2001, a miraculous new medicine was made.
This was published as "The Magical Bullet",
many of you may know it. It's GLEEVEC by Novartis.
This medicines works for a certain kind of blood cancer.
There 500 new patients every year in Korea, it's a rare disease.
When white blood cells in blood proliferate excessively,
a patient is diagnosed as chronic myelocytic leukemia. Then the patient will die in 5 years. It's a scarey one.
Teams of biologists and chemists research to develop new medicine with passion
of saving patients from the notorious disease.
It usually takes 15 to 20 years.
However, this GLEEVEC was made only after
7 years since its beginning.
This is the first targeting anticancer,
and it works the best among any of the pre-existing medicines.
Then what change of paradigm this GLEEVEC has brought?
Now is the time when a cancer becomes a chronic disease
which can be cured by taking pills just like blood pressure,
not staying at a hospital waiting for the end.
And this picture means a lot to me.
The Novartis company which developed GLEEVEC had a campaign
of distributing this medicine to patients in India for free.
And the patients who got the medicine were so thankful
to the company and made this bulletin to send it to Novartis. And this is president of Novartis India smiling in front of it.
I'm only a student in master's course, and have a long way to go,
but I'm hoping to get a thank-you note from a patient struggling with rare disease
by participating in development of new medicine.
I've been telling you what's dynamic about biology
and what kind of changes of paradigm it has brought with simple examples.
The numbers you see now, well, do you know factorial function?
N factorial is to multiply every integer from 1 to N.
Which number do you think is bigger between googolplex and 100 factorial?
It's about 9.33 multiplied by 10027. In physics,
and chemistry, a number bigger than googolplex is hardly dealt with.
However, in biology, we use factorial function to get number of cases
when there are 100 kinds of protein.
Like this, biology has such an infinite potential which makes it
that much of dynamic.
Here, in Daedeok Valley, there are many company research institutes, not just universities.
And all of the researchers' ideas come together and make factorial function,
we'll be able to achieve infinity.
Biology is a blue ocean where many things haven't been discovered yet.
In this blue ocean,
I have a role model as a female scientist.
As I mentioned earlier, Rosalind Franklin who discovered structure of CNA,
and Barbara McClintock
who devoted her life to the Jumping gene
which nobody even cared about.
And Jane Goodall who made it come true of communication between an animal and a human.
Like these three female scientists,
I will try harder to become someone who can inspire others.
I wish all of you to have the courage
of challenging for your dream that makes your heart beats.
Thank you.