Five 2019 MOST Columbus and Einstein grants bring NTD 90 million to TMU

Source: Taipei Medical University

Published on 2020-02-14

Assistant Professors Cheng-Yi Chen, Tsung-Ling Lee, Wei-Chen Huang, Yu-Cheng Hsiao and Tsai-Tsen Liao received 2019 MOST Einstein and Columbus funding totaling NTD 90 million.

 Did you know?

The MOST Grant for the Columbus Program is a subsidy program created to expand international perspectives and influence by encouraging young academics to explore the unknown, gain a broader international outlook, pursue excellence and encourage long-term investment in important innovative concepts while visiting overseas institutes to carry out research and exchange, and setting up groups for international collaboration. The MOST Grant for the Einstein Program is a subsidy program for scientists and researchers below 35 years of age, encouraging daring and innovation crossing scientific boundaries.
  • TMU Columbus Program awardees

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, bio-economy will be an important concept for global economic development. Bio-economy is economic activities and social benefits generated from biotechnology; it is applied to improve human health, quality of life, environmental protection and other aspects, and uses innovation as the focus for a nation’s technological development policies. Assistant Professor Lee’s research focuses on the transformation of laws, human rights, bioethics and the market in democratic society, and what roles they play in the bio-economy. The strategic roles of laws in global scientific governance are also examined. Her research is based on core aspects of risks, rights, markets and ethics, and explores the various risks and challenges the bio-economy brings.

Assistant Professor Tsung-Ling Lee, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

With the Columbus program’s funding, Assistant Professor Cheng-Yi Chen expects to enter multicultural collaborations to design interactive games and intervention models for infants to help develop their character. He wants to examine neurological development mechanisms in the brain related to morality and ethics, such as fairness, empathy, altruism and generosity, as well as important social environmental factors like parents’ value systems and their influence on children’s neurological processing. He also wants to set up behaviour prediction models using artificial intelligence.

Assistant Professor Chen says psychology’s social learning theories show that children will learn and impart inappropriate and immoral actions (such as aggression and violence) through mimicry, and this is an important reason to lead by example. Yet he also examines this idea from a more optimistic angle, designing appropriate interventions for children to promote character development. As prevention is better than cure, effectively reducing possible violence in society is the most fundamentally effective approach. He seeks to encourage morality from the infant stage using research based on behavior, neurophysiology and cognition.

This research project will combine vast cross-cultural neuroimaging data and behaviour indicators from the U.S., France and Taiwan to investigate neurological activities when subjects process information related to justice and ethics. This can illuminate the origin and development of brain socialization, placing particular emphasis on common evolutionary features of character development shared by all humans.

Assistant Professor Cheng-Yi Chen, College of Public Health

  • TMU Einstein Program awardees

Through the Einstein program grant, Assistant Professor Huang will use the material system of tissue engineering and biodegradable electronic microstructure process designs in combination with regenerative stem cell science to develop new spinal nerve microelectrodes and neural electrode treatment components for regenerative stem cells. The project in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh will develop high specification neurochips for the brain-computer interface. This research will integrate electronics, electrical engineering, materials science, neuroscience and clinical resources, and through these innovative integrations seek effective neurodisease treatments.

Assistant Professor Wei-Chen Huang, College of Biomedical Engineering

Assistant Professor Hsiao is focused on multidisciplinary research involving photonics and material and medical sciences, particularly using liquid crystal photonics components that can extend Taiwan’s existing advantages in LCD panels into new biomedical, cancer and environmental monitoring fields. His research received an excellence award presented by the International Society for Optics and Photonics and Newport, U.S. Dr. Hsiao proposes an innovative liquid crystal monitor chip that is easy to operate, low-cost, mass-producible and portable. The objectives are to replace complicated, high-cost processes found in traditional biomedical and cancer monitoring, and also to replace heavy, expensive apparatus formerly needed to monitor environmental pollution.

He has improved LCD panel technology so LC sensors can be used in challenging biomedical and environmental detection settings. The new big-data archive that the project will set up will also allow these sensors to be more reliable and more likely to be commercialized. This will allow the research to contribute to society while helping move Taiwan’s LCD manufacturers into biomedical products, spurring a new era of industrial and economic growth.

Assistant Professor Yu-Cheng Hsiao, College of Biomedical Engineering

Assistant Professor Tsai-Tsen Liao researches tumor biology, epigenetics and cancer molecular biology. Recently she has been working on anti-tumor mechanisms, searching for novel genes as potential treatment targets. Her research found that ARID3B, a member of the AT-rich interacting domain protein family, can form a complex that affects chromatin structure, which can induce cancer stemness in head and neck cancer. This is the first research indicating ARID3B’s ability to regulate chromatin structure and activate stem cell genes.

The Ministry of Science and Technology’s Einstein Program is funding this research into epigenetic regulatory mechanisms for colorectal cancer stem cells to determine the mechanism of stemness. Colorectal cancer is Taiwan’s third most deadly cancer, and surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy often fail to stop metastasis and recurrence. Cancer stemness important due to its links to resistance to treatment, metastasis and recurrence as the cancer exacerbates. As treatment strategies locking onto and eliminating colorectal cancer stem cells tend to fail, leading to a stem cell niche where new cancer stem cells form, Dr. Liao’s research instead aims to block cancer stem cell development.

Assistant Professor Tsai-Tsen Liao, College of Medicine