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UNIST has recently embarked on a new partnership with the Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) to facilitate research cooperation and advances in the area of radiation medical sciences, such as heavy ion radiotherapy used for cancer treatment.

A ceremony to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organizations took place in the Main Conference Room of UNIST on June 3, 2022. Accordingly, the two institutions will promote the development of smart radiation medical sciences centered on heavy ion therapy and secure competitiveness in medical industry based on smart healthcare technologies.

Heavy ion radiotherapy involves the acceleration of heavier ions, like carbon (C) or helium (He) to approximately 70% of the speed of light to deliver radiation to cancer cells and cause cell death. Besides, it has the ability to kill cancer cells effectively without damaging normal tissues, whereas X-rays used in conventional radiotherapy damage healthy and cancerous tissue alike as they journey through the body.

There are only 13 heavy ion medical accelerators in the world, which are essential for heavy ion radiotherapy. In Korea, two heavy ion medical accelerators will be set up, one in Seoul and another in Busan. One of them will be set up at the Gijang Branch of the Seoul National University Cancer Research Institute, which is scheduled to open in 2026.

Under this partnership, the two organizations have agreed to boost and expand cooperation in the field of smart radiation medical sciences centered on heavy ion therapy and cultivate excellent scientific talents.

“Joint research and manpower training through cooperation between the two institutions will be of great help in securing national competitiveness in the field of smart radiation medicine,” said President Yeon-soo Kim of SNUH.

“UNIST’s excellent research personnel and advanced research infrastructure will be the basis for cooperation between the two institutions,” said President Yong Hoon Lee of UNIST. “When the Gijang Cancer Center opens in 2026, a global research group will be created to lead the field of radiation medicine.”

Meanwhile, the ceremony has been attended by UNIST President Yong Hoon Lee, Dean Woonggyu Jung (Department of Biomedical Engineering), Dean In Cheol Bang (Department of Nuclear Enginering), Professor Hyung Joon Cho (Department of Biomedical Engineering), Professor Jimin Lee of Nuclear Enginering (Director, Center for Smart Radiation Medical Sciences), Professor Kyungjae Myung of Biomedical Engineering (Director, IBS Center for Genomic Integrity), and other key officers from both organization.