Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) announced on Thursday that Sung Young-chul, a professor of the Life Sciences Department of POSTECH and the founder of biotechnology company Genexine, and his wife Lee Ok-hee, the CEO of SL BIGEN, promised to donate 10 billion won worth of shares to the university. POSTECH will set up the SL fund with the donation and held an agreement ceremony on Wednesday.
The SL fund, which is short for Saving Life, will be used to develop convergence education programs, attract outstanding talents, and nurture bio venture companies for progress in life sciences and health care.
“Highly infectious and dangerous viruses, such as COVID-19, can emerge in the near future, and the world cannot go under lockdown every time it does,” he said. “To prevent recurrences, POSTECH and other research-focused universities should make proactive efforts to nurture talents in the bio and health care sectors.”
“There are many diseases that cannot be cured with modern medicines,” he said. “We decided to make donation hoping that there will be more scientists focused on basic science research and source technology development even though it takes a long time.”
Professor Sung himself is an example of such scientists, working on basic science research and source technology development for over 20 years. Sung, an expert of DNA vaccines, has become one of the first-generation founders of bio companies by launching Genexine, a bio company that was founded in 1999 as a POSTECH lab venture and develops antibody-protein medicines and vaccines.
He is currently serving as the company’s president and CEO and developing medicines for growth hormone deficiency and DNA vaccines to treat cervical cancer. Lately, the company is conducting clinical trials after developing a DNA vaccine candidate substance for COVID-19. It is the only South Korean company that has developed one of 29 COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently under clinical trials in the world.