Bilkent Day Celebrated on April 3

Photographs by: Aydın Ramazanoğlu

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Prof. Ali Doğramacı and Rector Prof. Abdullah Atalar met with faculty, staff and students on Tuesday, April 3 at the Bilkent Concert Hall. Prof. Doğramacı announced that beginning this year, April 3 -- the birthday of the university's beloved founder Hocabey -- will be celebrated as Bilkent Day. Each year, current and future projects and issues of Bilkent University will be discussed in an open meeting to promote the sharing of ideas. Prior to this year, similar meetings had been held in 2001, 2008 and 2010.

The meeting began with Prof. Doğramacı's opening remarks addressing the question, "Why does Bilkent exist?" He noted that before Bilkent came into existence, Turkey had had only one model of higher education, the state university. The new university founded by Prof. İhsan Doğramacı offered an alternative organization for higher education in the country -- one that was nonprofit and more independent.

Prof. Doğramacı also referred to the international Statement on Academic Freedom, endorsed by Bilkent's Senate and Board of Trustees in 2005. The statement defines academic freedom as "the freedom to conduct research, teach, speak, and publish, subject to the norms and standards of scholarly inquiry, without interference or penalty, wherever the search for truth and understanding may lead."

Prof. Doğramacı concluded his talk by stating, "Bilkent Day will be celebrated each April 3, to discuss where we are, where we are going, and what lies ahead."

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Nobel Laureate Harold E. Varmus Speaks at Bilkent


Photograph by Atay Aygün (THM/III)


Harold Elliot Varmus, Nobel laureate and the current director of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), gave a talk to junior and senior students of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics on Monday, March 2.

With John Michael Bishop, Dr. Varmus was awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on retroviral oncogenes, which eventually led to their discovery of the cellular origins of cancer. Their investigations opened the way for a much greater volume of work focused on understanding the precise mechanism by which normal cells are converted into their cancerous equivalents.

In his talk, Dr. Varmus recounted his early interest in literature and his training as a physician prior to his initial introduction to molecular biology, which later led to his pioneering work in the molecular biology of cancer. With his keen insight into the nature of cutting-edge research as the former director of the US National Health Institutes and current director of the NCI, Dr. Varmus emphasized the importance of large groups and brainstorming in modern science, pointing out that innovative research is no longer confined to small laboratories and that exchange of ideas is vital for new breakthroughs. He also answered questions on topics as diverse as how grant proposals submitted to the NIH are evaluated or how eminent journals such as Nature and Science may be encouraged to adopt a free-access publication model -- a topic that he is deeply interested in as a strong proponent of open-access online publication.