This Year, Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar Wins the Sabri Ülker Science Award



Sabri Ülker Science Award Ceremony was held at the Metabolism and Life Symposium with the participation of metabolism scientists from all over the world. The symposium was hosted by the Sabri Ülker Foundation, chaired by Prof. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil and organized by the Harvard Sabri Ülker Metabolic Research Center. Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Koç University receives this year’s science award.

Sabri Ülker Foundation has made a distinguished name for itself with its sustainable projects aiming to contribute to the future of public health and convey accurate and up-to-date information obtained from reliable sources for nutrition, food and healthy life to society. The Foundation organized the 7th of its Science Award Ceremony, one of the most prestigious awards in the world of science. Researching genetics and complex diseases at Harvard University, Sabri Ülker Metabolic Research Center held the ceremony at the Metabolism and Life Symposium, one of the most remarkable events in the world of science, held every two years. At this ceremony, Begüm Mutuş, General Manager of Sabri Ülker Foundation announced the name of Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar from Koç University Molecular Biology and Genetics Department as the winner of the award.

Ali Ülker: “Our support to independent scientific studies will continue non-stop”

The digital symposium was held with the participation of special guests from the academy, business world and media. Ali Ülker, Yıldız Holding’s Chairman of Board of Directors made the opening speech. He said: “Thanks to the Sabri Ülker Science Award, we are proud to continue to support the Turkish scientific world and young Turkish science students on the international scale.” Ali Ülker also added: “It is possible to transform regulations to support the ecosystem of the independent scientific studies and provide them with a place to grow in our country. This transform will allow the lead of independent scientific studies. Hence, scientific efficiency can be increased in our country.”

Gökhan Hotamışlıgil: “We are working to strengthen the ties of young Turkish scientists with each other and with our country.”

In his speech, Hotamışlıgil emphasized that both Sabri Ülker Foundation and Sabri Ülker Metabolic Research Center aim to encourage young Turkish scientists to become the stars of the future all over the world and to create an effective scientific network for them with strong connections with each other and our country. Hotamışlıgil added: “Scientific competence is one of the building blocks to assure our future and humanity’s welfare. I am grateful to Ülker family and Sabri Ülker Foundation for their contribution to increasing the effectiveness of our scientific capacity in the global scale.” Hotamışlıgil underlined that this is a long-term dream and that the young scientists who have won the Science Award have already achieved great success. He continued: “I am very pleased that Elif Nur Fırat Karalar has joined this exquisite group as a role model scientist and I believe that we are one step closer to our common dreams with her participation.”

Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar: “I hope my work will inspire future research”

Begüm Mutuş, General Manager of the Sabri Ülker Foundation, announced this year’s Sabri Ülker Science Award winner. 2021 winner of the science award, Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar said at the ceremony, “I am very happy to receive the Sabri Ülker Science Award. I would like to express my endless thanks to estimable Sabri Ülker Science Award Jury and everyone. I hope that my award-winning works will inspire future scientists’ research.”

Identifying the origins of developmental and metabolic disorders can shape the diagnosis and treatment process

Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar continues her scientific career in Molecular Biology and Genetics and seeks answers to how cell structures known as centrosomes and cilium, which play a critical role in cell division and communication, are formed and take a role. Karalar and her team believe that every answer they will find in their research will help them develop new methods in diagnosing and treating disorders in these structures. At the same time, they aim to identify the root causes of developmental and metabolic disorders such as kidney disorders, blindness, obesity and diabetes, and to guide the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases in their work, which was awarded the Sabri Ülker Science Award. After completing her undergraduate studies at Bilkent University Molecular Biology and Genetics Department, Asst. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar continued her doctoral studies at University of California, Berkeley, and post-doctoral studies at Stanford University. In 2014, she established the research laboratory in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Koç University and currently works on determining how centrosomes and cilia, which have important functions at the cell and organism level, are formed and function. These basic mechanisms of cell biology cause a wide range of disorders from rare genetic diseases to cancer, and studies in this area inspire new diagnosis and treatment methods. Karalar also continues her studies in the “Cell Skeleton Research” laboratory with the support of ERC, EMBO Installation Grant and Young Investigator Program, Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship and TÜBİTAK (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey).

Metabolism and Life Symposium attracts great attention

Chaired by Prof. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil, Harvard Sabri Ülker Center for Metabolic Research hosted the Sabri Ülker Science Award Ceremony in addition to the Metabolism and Life Symposium. Attracting great attention, the symposium gave information about the recent developments in the world of science. During the symposium, scientists discussed analyses of molecular details of metabolic diseases and their use in treating and preventing metabolic diseases. Symposium speakers included Roger Kornberg, who discovered the nucleosome as the basic unit of the DNA helix in chromosomes, and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work, in addition to numerous other expert and prestigious scientists.

Exciting research at Sabri Ülker Metabolic Research Center

Sabri Ülker Metabolic Research Center has been operating since 2015. The center continues its scientific research to understand the underlying mechanisms of chronic and metabolic diseases and identify new ways of treatment to combat the greatest threats to public health around the world. The center also studies Covid-19 in the context of metabolic diseases, since metabolic diseases were the most important risks increasing mortality rates in Covid-19 that affected the whole world last year. It also explores the mechanisms through which the metabolic environment affects virus infection and its results. The center has guided potential new treatments this year with its study on “the effects of endoplasmic reticulum stress in obesity and loss of function”. Another important study by the center has been to map intracellular structures at high resolution. In addition, the center has done pioneering research on how this structure affects metabolism and revealed new hormone activity mechanisms that regulate metabolic balance.





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