17th Kadir Has Awards Found Their Owners
Kadir Has Awards, which are given annually by Kadir Has University in order to keep the name of the late Kadir Has, the founder of the university and philanthropist businessman, alive, were presented to their owners with a ceremony held on March 22.
At the 17th Kadir Has Awards, “Outstanding Achievement” and “Promising Scientist” awards were given to our scientists who have achieved great success in the field of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and contributed to research in this field.
The ceremony of Kadir Has Awards, which aims to introduce our country’s valuable scientists who have made significant national and international achievements and institutions that contribute to the development of society, was held on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 this year. On the 15th anniversary of the death of Kadir Has, the founder of Kadir Has University and one of the distinguished philanthropists of our country, the 17th Kadir Has Awards found their owners as part of the commemoration program held at the university’s central campus in Cibali.
This year, “Outstanding Achievement” and “Promising Scientist” awards were presented to our scientists, who contributed to the researches in this field by making significant achievements in the field of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, a multidisciplinary science that develops very rapidly thanks to developing technology and new techniques.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
At the 17th Kadir Has Awards, the “Outstanding Achievement Award” was given to Prof. Dr. Moshe Arditi, who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the sciences of infection and immunology for 25 years. Prof. Arditi was deemed worthy of this award thanks to his important discoveries in the last two years in a wide area ranging from investigation in the functions of the cells that make up the infection and immune system, the interaction of the pathogen and the host, and the innate and adaptive immunity, by connecting the research areas of infection and molecular immunology, especially in cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis and Kawasaki Disease as well as the COVID-19 virus, the effects of this virus on the immune system, the diseases it causes and its treatment, and numerous scientific studies published in high-level academic biology and medical journals.
PROMISING SCIENTIST AWARDS
At the 17th Kadir Has Awards, the “Promising Scientist Award” was granted to our two esteemed scientists, Dr. Billur Akkaya and Dr. Münir Akkaya. Dr. Billur Akkaya was deemed worthy of this award for her experimental studies at the cellular and molecular level on how T cells, which play an important role in the immune system response to infections, autoimmune diseases and cancer and are adopted as an effective target in treatments for these diseases, are neutralized by regulatory T cells. Dr. Münir Akkaya, on the other hand, won the award for his experimental studies at the cellular, molecular and metabolic levels to find out how the immune response is reprogrammed by various microbial factors during infectious diseases and how this process affects the communication between natural and acquired immune elements.
PROF. DR. ARDITI CONTINUES HIS RESEARCH IN AN EXPANDING RANGE
Moshe Arditi, who graduated from Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty in 1981, worked as a researcher at Yale University (USA) Medical Faculty Hospital between 1981 and 1983. Arditi, who received his specialization in Pediatrics from the University of Chicago, completed his fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Northwestern University between 1986-1991, and then became an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California’s Los Angeles Children’s Hospital (USC-CHLA) (1991- 94) and Associate Professor (1994-1998). After his transfer to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Cedars-Sinai Hospital (CSMC) in 1998 as Professor (2002) and Head of the Pediatric Infection Division, Prof. Arditi has been the Chair of the Pediatrics Research Division at UCLA-CSMC and the Founding President of the Infection and Immunological Diseases Research Center since 2011.
Prof. Dr. Moshe Arditi was elected a fellow of the Association of American Physicians (AAP), founded by William Osler in 2014. In 2019, he received the “Pioneer of Medicine” award at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He was elected as a member of the Science Academy in Turkey in 2021. His research topics continue in a wide range such as infection and immune system, innate and adaptive immunity, pathogen and host interaction, especially its effect on cardiovascular diseases, Kawasaki Disease and COVID-19 virus. All of his research and important discoveries on these issues have been supported by the American National Health Institute (NIH) for the last 25 years. Arditi continues to contribute to the advancement of the sciences of infection, biology and immunology with 177 articles and nearly 22,000 citations published in top academic biology and medical journals.
DR. BİLLUR AKKAYA RESEARCHES THE WORKING PRINCIPLES OF T CELLS
After graduating from Hacettepe University, Department of Medicine in English in 2008, Billur Akkaya completed her doctorate at Oxford University (England) in 2013 with a full scholarship. Dr. Akkaya, whose doctoral studies were supported by Oxford University Felix Achievement Scholarship, was also deemed worthy of the Hugh Pilkington Scholarship given by Oxford University. Having completed her postdoctoral studies at the American National Institute of Health (NIH), Dr. Akkaya established her own laboratory as an assistant professor at Ohio State University in 2021.
Dr. Billur Akkaya has been working for more than 10 years on subjects including modulation of PD-1 signaling pathways in T cells, T cell metabolism and suppression mechanisms of regulatory T cells (Treg) immune response. She won the American National Institute of Health Fellows Award for Research Excellence, the American Association of Immunology Thermo Fisher Trainee Achievement Award, and the Sidney & Joan Pestka Post Graduate Award for Excellence in Interferon & Cytokine Research for her work on the immune system. Her project, which is currently ongoing, was awarded the New Innovators Award given by the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the project support fund in this context. Dr. Akkaya and her team are investigating the molecular basis of the working principles of regulatory T cells in autoimmune diseases and cancer.
DR. MÜNIR AKKAYA FOCUSES ON THE BIOLOGY OF B CELLS
Münir Akkaya graduated from Hacettepe University, Department of Medicine in English in 2007, and received his doctorate from Oxford University in 2012. Dr. Akkaya, whose doctoral thesis focused on the regulation of immune response during CD200R family interactions of leukocyte surface molecules, conducted studies on B cell biology and immune metabolism at the American National Institute of Health for his postdoctoral education. His research here characterized new mechanisms by which microbial signals can affect the survival and differentiation of B cells. Alongside his work on B cell biology, he worked on host-pathogen interactions in the context of Plasmodium (malaria) infections.
Dr. Münir Akkaya, who was awarded an Honorary Scholarship by TÜBİTAK and a Success Scholarship by Hacettepe University during his undergraduate education, and received his doctoral education with a scholarship given by the British Medical Research Council, received the Milstein Young Investigator Award from International Cytokine and Interferon Society, the Thermofisher Trainee Achievement Award from American Association of Immunologists, The Fellows Award for Research Excellence from the American National Institutes of Health, and FASEB Ben Pernis Memorial Award. He continues his studies as an assistant professor at Ohio State University.
“THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE WORKERS MADE POSSIBLE THE ACHIEVEMENTS IN EDUCATION DURING THE PANDEMIC PERIOD”
At the ceremony where Prof. Dr. Moshe Arditi, Dr. Billur Akkaya and Dr. Münir Akkaya were presented their awards, Kadir Has University Board of Trustees Chairman Can Has, Kadir Has Foundation President Nuri Has and Kadir Has University Rector Prof. Dr. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz made speeches.
Can Has, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, stated that these awards, which support the efforts of our scientists who contribute to humanity, nature and the future of life, keep the name of Turkey’s education volunteer Kadir Has alive; and the works of our award-winning scientists also took their places in the research, science, art and culture patterns woven meticulously at Kadir Has University, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Saying that it was possible for us to fight the pandemic, which has affected the whole world in the past two years, thanks to scientists, Can Has underlined that the work of immunologists has gained importance in this fight.
During his speech, Nuri Has, President of Kadir Has Foundation, said that Kadir Has University has made a great contribution to the development of higher education and science, which is as important as a strong economy, democracy, human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression, secularism, culture and art for Turkey, leaving behind a quarter of a century. After conveying his thanks to the valuable professors of Kadir Has University who have achieved academic success by working with great determination even under the pandemic conditions, to the young academics who were awarded within the scope of the Science Academy Young Scientists Research Program, to all the administrators and faculty members who encouraged students to be an important stakeholder in the research ecosystem created at the university, Nuri Has congratulated our scientists who received awards this year in the presence of all scientists who work to ensure that our lives under the threat of the epidemic can continue without any problems.
Kadir Has University Rector Prof. Dr. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz started her speech with a quote from the speech she gave when she took office four years ago: “Our duty as academics is to build new education models by going beyond traditional education models. In this period, Kadir Has University will place research on its main axis and develop these education models.” Stating that they set out with this ideal, Prof. Durukanoğlu Feyiz said that the New Education Model, which is the only one in Turkey and an example to the world, is built on solid foundations.
Arguing that Kadir Has University has experienced a significant transformation in the Preparatory education and that very important developments have been made in the Core Program and Project-Based Education, which are the two pillars of undergraduate education, Prof. Durukanoğlu Feyiz pointed out that firm steps were taken to transform the research ecosystem at the university in a way that would nurture all undergraduate and graduate students and academic staff. Stating that Kadir Has University has made important progress towards becoming a research-oriented real world university, Prof. Durukanoğlu Feyiz thanked the science and health workers who made it possible for all these efforts to be continued uninterruptedly even during the pandemic period, and congratulated the awarded scientists.
ASSESSMENT BOARD OF 17th KADİR HAS AWARDS (*)
● Prof. Dr. Murat Akova, Hacettepe University
● Prof. Dr. Nihat Berker, Kadir Has University
● Prof. Dr. Sondan Durukanoğlu Feyiz, Kadir Has University
● Prof. Dr. Önder Ergönül, Koç University
● Prof. Dr. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil, Harvard University
● Prof. Dr. Güher Saruhan Direskeneli, Istanbul University
(*) The list is arranged alphabetically by surname.
For the list of awardees in previous years: http://odul.khas.edu.tr/odultarihcesi