On October 28, at the fifth Turkish Medical World Congress, Asst. Prof. Urartu Özgür Şafak Şeker of the Bilkent University Materials Science and Nanotechnology Institute (UNAM) and Neuroscience graduate program received an Aziz Sancar Incentive Award from TÜSEB, the Health Institutes of Turkey. Dr. Şeker’s prize was presented to him by the vice president of the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Fuat Oktay.
The award is named after 2015 chemistry Nobel laureate Aziz Sancar, and celebrates Dr. Sancar’s achievements in science. Recipients are scientists under the age of 40 whose work has demonstrated their potential to make significant contributions to science at an international level in the future.
Dr. Şeker received the award for his work in synthetic biology and genetically engineered biosystems. His main research interest is cellular programming, accomplished through the employment of synthetic genetic circuits, with the goal of addressing disease conditions by developing cellular devices as living therapeutic modalities and designing a new generation of living biomaterials and whole-cell biosensors for biomedical applications.
Dr. Şeker earned his PhD in molecular biology and genetics in 2009 from İstanbul Technical University and the University of Washington, where he was a visiting graduate student in 2004–2008. He subsequently did postdoctoral research at Singapore Nanyang Technological University (2010–2011) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Biological Engineering and Synthetic Biology Research Center (2011–2014). As a faculty member at Bilkent UNAM, Dr. Şeker leads the Synthetic Biosystems Research group in UNAM’s Life Sciences section.