PHI BIOMED: from POSTECH Lab to Global Market
PHI BIOMED: from POSTECH Lab to Global Market
  • Professor Sei Kwang Hahn (MSE)
  • 승인 2022.01.07 00:45
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

Nice to meet you. I am Sei Kwang Hahn, Seokchun Chair Professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering (MSE) and CEO of the Biomedical Nanomaterials Lab (BNL). I obtained my B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. As the youngest Ph.D., I joined the LG Chemical group in 1996. At the LG Chemical Research Institute, I carried out my research on biodegradable polymers including hyaluronate (HA) and the sustained release formulation of the human growth hormone (hGH), which was successfully commercialized in Korea under the trade name Declage® in 2007. From 2001, I worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington. Here, my research was focused on HA-based hydrogels,  their controlled drug delivery, and tissue engineering applications with my advisory Prof. Allan Hoffman, one of the world-best scientists in the field of biomaterials. After my post-doctoral research, I worked for the long-acting formulation of various biopharmaceuticals at the Hoffman-La Roche Group of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Since 2005, I have been working as an assistant, associate, and full professor at POSTECH MSE. In 2012, I joined the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Harvard Medical School and collaborated with Prof. Andy Yun as a visiting professor. We developed optogenetic hydrogel waveguides for the treatment of diabetes, which was published in Nature Medicine. In 2019, as a visiting professor, I worked to develop smart wearable devices including smart contact lenses with Prof. Zhenan Bao at Stanford University, which was published in Nature Reviews Materials and Science Advances. In 2013, 2015, and 2017, I received the Korean Minister of Education Award, the Korean President Award, and the Korean Minister of Health and Welfare Award, respectively. I was the Samsung Future Technology Committee member from 2016 to 2018 and the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology from 2017 to 2019. Currently, I am working as a member of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea and as the outside director of Kiswire Co.

How was PHI BIOMED founded?
On the basis of my research experiences at LG Life Science and Hoffman-La Roche Group, I founded PHI BIOMED Co. for the translational development of my research products at the BNL of POSTECH with Dr. Wonjin Park of the Wonjin Beauty Medical Group in 2014. PHI BIOMED is an emerging biopharmaceutical company focusing on cosmetic surgery and medical materials, biomedical drug delivery systems, tissue engineering regenerative medicines, and smart contact lenses for both diagnosis and therapy. We have been collaborating with the LG Chemical group, Genexine, Shinpoong Pharmaceutical Co., Samsung Electronic Co., LG Innotek, Interojo Co., Johnson & Johnson and Hoffman-La Roche Groups for various biomedical applications. PHI BIOMED strives to become a global biopharmaceutical company competing with global pharmaceutical companies. In 2021, PHI BIOMED was nominated as Innovative National Enterprise 1000. 

Correlation between material science, engineering, and vaccine development
As you know, the COVID-19 vaccine is a very important issue worldwide. Material science and engineering benefit the world through material innovation from the nanoscale to the macroscopic scale. Understanding material science and engineering triggers the innovation of various industrial applications to semiconductors, fuel cells, batteries, medicines, and so on. The COVID-19 vaccine is composed of mRNA, which produces an antigenic spike protein, and its delivery system of lipid nanoparticle (LNP), which has been successfully developed by material science and engineering. Innovative biomaterials are the core component for developing diagnostic and therapeutic systems, and material science and engineering hold the key to biomaterial development.

How to select research topics and attitude toward research
Before joining POSTECH, my previous research experiences at a global pharmaceutical company have provided me with great insight for the successful commercial development of innovative biomaterials. As described above, material innovation is directly related to the commercial development of various diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. In our lab, we are developing innovative biomaterials for biomedical applications for diagnosis and therapy based on my academic and industrial research experiences. POSTECH students are known to have excellent creativity, so I think my important role as an advisory professor is to give them as many chances to realize their scientific talents.

Advice to Postechians who are thinking about my research
My lab is working on the development of nanomedicines based on multidisciplinary convergence technologies, and my graduate students have been collaborating with Harvard Medical School and Stanford University. To accomplish these international collaborations, graduate students should improve their multidisciplinary research capabilities and take care of their English skills. As Isaac Newton mentioned in 1676, students must be encouraged to “stand on the shoulders of giants.”