Korea University School of Life Science and Biotechnology Division of Life Sciences

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Introduction to the School of Life Sciences

Cutting-edge discipline of the 21st Century

Life sciences is a cutting-edge discipline that attempts to understand the mysteries of life and apply their principles to various issues across the fields of medicine, food, environment and energy. The School of Life Sciences focuses on the hands-on experience of students in education and research through joint projects with Korean businesses, science and technology organizations, and research institutes. Our school is the optimum venue for those who aspire to be a life scientist in the 21st century since it offers the best educational environment in Korea.

Development of life sciences

Life science is the study of living organisms, including human beings. It is about understanding the essence of life on earth.

In the 1940s, the biggest interest in biology was to understand what genes were. In the 1950s, the double helix model of DNA presented by Watson and Crick led to the creation of molecular biology.

The double helix hypothesis defined the transmission path of genetic information, solving one of the biggest biological riddles.

In the 1960s, researchers discovered that genetic information is encoded in DNA, transcribed into messenger RNA and sequentially translated into protein, thus carrying on the genetic traits of life. Under these circumstances, the life sciences emerged as a new discipline for figuring out as much as possible about life on earth from a common perspective.

The 1970s witnessed a rapid development in DNA research, which had been confined to germs or virus, as genetic engineering was born. This allowed us to better understand higher animals, including humans, and plants. Behind the birth of the life sciences lay a reflection on the fragmentation of science, as well as social attention on pending global issues such as environmental pollution, food, population and medicine.

In the 1980s, life science became a technology fundamental to many businesses, rather than a technology only dealing with the aforementioned issues of the environment, food, population and medicine. Life science began as a tool to develop the science of life. However, its applications to various fields, including industry, became more active as it moved beyond basic research.

Since the 1990s, life science has evolved into a study for explaining highly-developed life forms such as the higher animals and plants. For instance, it now focuses on revealing life phenomena through cell fusion or the genetic manipulation of plants as well as on developing transgenic plants with high productivity, increased flavoring or herbal ingredients, and resistance to salt, water stress and disease, thereby contributing to resolving farming or food issues. As the development of other scientific areas and technologies has enabled us to explain and manipulate life at atomic or molecular levels, the life sciences open a new chapter of development based on molecular biology.

In the 21st century, functional genomics, for understanding the function of genes, and bioinformatics, for digitizing biological data, are the new and rapidly evolving fields in life science, while neuroscience, which used to be regarded as a field of medicine or psychology, is also hailed as a new area of life science.

Life Sciences 101

What talents are needed for life scientists?

We offer a curriculum that fosters holistic thinking based on scientific values. Anyone who wants to nurture scientific thinking while acquiring the building blocks of science on their way to becoming a scientist endowed with curiosity and the spirit of adventure can join our program. In particular, those who have a benevolent spirit and the compassion to resolve human welfare issues with science and technology are a perfect fit with our school.

What will you study?

When you join our program, you will first learn basic theories of science and then conduct experiments to acquire hands-on experience in up-to-date life science research. In addition, you will be able to cultivate proactive and creative qualities through wide-ranging discussions with professors in various fields. More specifically, our studies include molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, genetics, neurobiology, developmental physiology, and virology, and therefore, you will have an opportunity to nurture creativity, develop research capabilities, enhance future-oriented thinking, and cultivate a personality that can lead the national development of science and technology.

What future awaits you after graduation?

The majority of our graduates have continued their studies in the Department of Life Sciences at KU under the supervision of world-class faculty members. Some choose to continue to study in overseas universities or to work at a prominent research institute or company. If you complete the undergraduate teaching program, you can acquire a secondary school teaching license. Others go on to medical or dental school, become patent attorneys or prepare for national exams.

Message from the Dean

Incubator of high quality talent for life sciences in the 21st century – KU School of Life Sciences

Life sciences is a comprehensive science that applies scientific research on living organisms and their functions to human welfare such as medicine or environmental protection. Furthermore, it explores anything that is alive, from life phenomena and microorganisms such as molecules or cells to plants and animals. In particular, it is about understanding humans and their relationships with nature related to the application of newly defined principles in genetics, molecular biology and cell biology, the provision of new analytical tools to various fields such as paleontology and forensic medicine, and the role of neuroscience and evolutionary biology in changing the frames of psychology and sociology.

The School of Life Sciences at Korea University is an elite life sciences school, one that provides a systematic education that incubates forward-thinking scholars and researchers. In terms of education and research facilities, we are the top school in Korea, and after moving to the Hana Science Hall on the Science and Engineering Campus in early 2015, we are leaping forward to reach ever higher goals. In this new space, we are equipped with cutting-edge research and lecture facilities, offering a world-class environment for education and research.

KU School of Life Sciences – leading the development of national life sciences 

Korea’s national competitive edge originated from technology and information intensive industries, which include biotech, new drugs, new agricultural pesticides and environmental protection. Our school has been preparing to be a life sciences leader in the 21st century since it was founded based on the Biotechnology Center established in 1996 when KU was selected for the National Graduate School Program by the Ministry of Education. KU’s wholehearted support and the tremendous efforts of our faculty, staff and students have resulted in what we are today. Heading up the first and second Brain Korea 21 programs, we have led the development of life sciences, and we have pursued the best life sciences research, leading to the founding of the graduate program of the Department of Life Sciences in March 2013. Our school is widely recognized as a successful model for higher education development, and many local universities have benchmarked us. Our graduates are following career paths in local or overseas universities, businesses or research institutes as new leaders in the life sciences and the new businesses they are generating. The faculty members of our school, who have studied at the best schools and research institutions, will guide you to becoming experts and global leaders in the life sciences area.

Your ambitious dreams can becomes reality in the School of Life Sciences at KU.
Cheol-Won Yun
Dean of the School of Life Sciences
Korea University