By Cho Jin-seo
The Korean government plans to set up a national neuroscience research center next year.
The Ministry of Science and Technology said Tuesday that it will spend some 380 billion won until 2021 on establishing and managing the institution. The location of the facility will be decided later this year, it said.
The ministry has formed a committee that will oversee the establishment of the institution. It named Suh Yoo-hun, professor of Seoul National University College of Medicine, as its chairman. One of the main missions is to tackle Alzheimer's disease by using stem-cell therapy, Suh said.
``Brain research is the final frontier of modern science,'' he said during a phone interview. ``It is still unexplored territory, and the number of people suffering from brain diseases will continue to increase in an aging society.''
The government began to finance neuroscience researchers in the late 1990s with the enactment of related laws. So far, about 50 billion won has been allocated to individual scientists and research laboratories and the amount will increase to 150 billion won from next year through the new state-sponsored institute, Suh said.
``It is a very important field but Korea has been lagging behind such countries as the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom. We believe the establishment of this institute will help Korea catch up with those countries,'' he said.
The ministry said in a press release that the institute will collaborate with overseas researchers to draw a ``blueprint for brain research.'' It will employ some 200 staff members. The construction of the facility will begin early next year once the launching committee designates the location.
Suh was the chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at Seoul National's medical college. He is also a renowned expert in the field of Alzheimer treatment. He received his master's and doctoral degrees at the university.
Many scientists and doctors around the world have been studying the treatment of various brain diseases. Recently stem-cell injections have emerged as a solution to help patients with Alzheimer's disease, one of the most common form of brain wasting diseases.