The ceremony of Kadir Has Awards, which aims to introduce and reward the persons and institutions that have made significant achievements at national and international level and contributed to the development of the society, was held on Monday, March 22, 2021 this year. Within the scope of the commemoration program held over the online live broadcast on the 14th anniversary of the death of Kadir Has, one of the distinguished philanthropists of our country, 16th Kadir Has Awards have found their owners. This year, the “Outstanding Achievement Award” and the “Promising Scientist Award” were granted to Turkish scientists who made great achievements in the field of Neuroscience, where groundbreaking developments were observed thanks to developing gene technologies and scientists working with patience.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The “Outstanding Achievement Award” at the 16th Kadir Has Awards was granted to Prof. Dr. Murat Günel, the chair of Neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine. Prof. Dr. Günel was granted this award for his research conducted to reveal the genetic basis of the nervous system and accompanying vascular system disorders, discovery of the genetic mechanisms that cause brain cancers to turn from benign tumors to cancer by reading genetic codes, and teaching the Postdoc, Postgraduate, Graduate and Undergraduate students from Turkey the studies on which he has worked by having them under his team.
PROMISING SCIENTIST AWARD
At the 16th Kadir Has Awards, the “Promising Scientist Award” was granted to Dr. Piray Atsak who carries on studies on Neuroscience at the University of Colombia. Dr. Atsak was awarded for her contributions to this field with her experimental studies based on how negative experiences in early ages pose a permanent risk for psychiatric disorders, electro-physiological recordings of animal models in living environment, and optogenetic manipulations of neural networks involved in stress and emotional behavior.
PROF. DR. GÜNEL FOCUSES ON BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND DISEASES
Prof. Dr. Murat Günel, who has many significant academic awards such as Scientific Achievement Award of Turkish Ministry of Health and Young Investigator Award of American Epilepsy Society, was elected as a member of the US National Academy of Medicine in 2015. Due to his studies on identifying inherited genetic mutations that cause vascular diseases and cortical developmental disorders and elucidating their mechanisms in 2020, he was granted the International Academy Award on “Health and Life Sciences” category by Turkish Academy of Sciences.
Prof. Dr. Günel is currently the Chair of Neurosurgery at Yale University School of Medicine and Professor of Neuroscience and Genetics. As the Professor of Nixdorff-German at Yale University, Prof. Dr. Günel’s research focuses especially on brain development and diseases. In his researches in the field of molecular biology and genetics, he is working on understanding the molecular structure of different diseases such as tumors, cerebral hemorrhages and aneurysms, and developing new treatment methods for these diseases.
ATSAK FOCUSES ON THE NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS OF EARLY-AGE STRESS
After graduating from Ege University in 2005, Dr. Piray Atsak completed her postgraduate degree in neuroscience at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands in 2012. During her postgraduate studies, she discovered a new mechanism that shows how stress impairs memory. After post-graduate degree, she researched the importance of the same neurobiological mechanism in other cognitive effects of stress at Radboud University. In 2015, she was granted the “Promising Researcher Award” by the Dutch Neuroscience Association. In the same year, with the support of the Netherlands Institute of Science and the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, she began her studies at the University of Colombia in the USA. Dr. Atsak, who has been continuing her studies in Neuroscience at the University of Colombia with the support of Sackler and the American National Mental Health Research Institute since 2019, focuses on the neurophysiological mechanisms of early stress that lead to depression.
Prof. Dr. Murat Günel and Dr. Piray Atsak were presented their awards through an online ceremony, where, Can Has, Kadir Has University Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Nuri Has, Kadir Has Foundation Chairman, and Prof. Dr. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz, Kadir Has University Rector, gave speeches.
“OUR ACHIEVEMENTS ENCOURAGE US IN BLAZING NEW TRAILS”
Can Has, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Kadir Has University, congratulated our two scientists who won awards in the field of neuroscience, and said that the year we left behind reminded us of the importance of unity, family, social solidarity, support, and especially life. Saying that “Our hope is to return to our vibrant campus as before, free from restrictions,” Can Has stated that despite the conditions of the pandemic, the transition stages to Kadir Has University New Education Model, which has been studied meticulously for a while, has been implemented as planned and that it is taking firm steps towards becoming a strong research university:
“Kadir Has University New Education Model, which aims to raise free individuals embellished with universal values, graduates who can work all over the world and give shape and direction to the future, gives us opportunities to set new targets appropriate for the age. However, our determination to become a strong research university carries on. Our academics carry out meticulous work that requires great resources and receive national and international support funds. The total fund that came to our university with these projects has reached approximately 100 million Turkish Liras. Despite the difficult conditions created by the global outbreak, such a rapid progress could only be possible with the joint efforts of all relevant units of the university. These achievements encourage us to do more to spread the research culture and improve the university’s physical research infrastructure.”
“WE BUILD A BRIDGE BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL SCIENTISTS”
Nuri Has, Chairman of Kadir Has Foundation, said that as the biggest supporter of the university, which has proudly carried the Kadir Has name and philosophy in the field of science and education for nearly 25 years, they are proud to support the world of science and art with Kadir Has Awards and stated that in the days when the flow of daily life was radically changed with the pandemic, scientists, research centers and universities made the light at the end of the dark tunnel reachable:
“In the face of a major threat to life, science has been the only thing under which we could take a shelter. It is only possible with scientific research to set a barrier to such an outbreak that can radically change the flow of daily life and cause global human, economic and political problems. We have seen once again that only thanks to the cooperation of different disciplines and the coordination of specialties, we can reach the real solutions of all problems that negatively affect life in the light of scientific thought and inventions. If we can hope for the continuation of life, for the well-being of humanity, it is thanks to science.”
Telling that the Kadir Has Awards also reflect this understanding, Nuri Has said, “Kadir Has Awards were granted to those who have made important inventions and studies until today, and who are believed to do much more successful work if they are encouraged and supported. “Our aim is to build a bridge between successful scientists with the research climate we create and the opportunities we offer.”
“WE SHAPE OUR FUTURE TODAY”
“Every time the memorial ceremony approaches, I read the letter written by our beloved founder, Kadir Has, to the future members of the board of trustees and the rectors. In this letter, I turned the words of our founder who wrote “Today is the only thing that can buy our future” and “Yesterday has passed, but tomorrow is yet to come” into a guide for myself.” said Prof. Dr. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz, Rector of Kadir Has University, and he explained how they have shaped the university that adds value to education and science with the work they have done today. Emphasizing Kadir Has University New Education Model, which has two important pillars which are Core Program and Project-Based Education, Prof. Dr. Durukanoğlu Feyiz said, “We have developed a completely different system that surpasses traditional education models in order to raise the generations of tomorrow and we are implementing it successfully”.
Stating that they are working hard to bring the research ecosystem to the desired level in Kadir Has Unıversity with the bold steps taken in the field of education, Prof. Dr. Durukanoğlu Feyiz said, “We have become one of the few universities that managed to bring EU research funds to our country in a very short time. We have become the third university to receive the most project support from TUBITAK in the field of Social and Humanities in the last four years.” Indicating that Kadir Has University is on its way to becoming a world university, he once again drew attention to the importance of the studies led by reason and science and congratulated the two valuable scientists who received this year’s award.
ASSESSMENT BOARD OF 16th KADİR HAS AWARDS (*)
- Nihat Berker, Kadir Has University
- Canan Dağdeviren, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab
- Turgay Dalkara, Hacettepe University
- Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz, Kadir Has University
- Gökhan Hotamışlıgil, Harvard University
- Türker Kılıç, BAU Medical Park Göztepe Hospital
(*) The list is arranged alphabetically by surname.
For the list of awardees in previous years: