Aziz Sancar, Nobel Laureate in chemistry in Stockholm 2015
|Citizenship||Turkey and United States|
Aziz Sancar (born 8 September 1946) is a Turkish biochemist and molecular biologist specializing in DNA repair, cell cycle checkpoints, and circadian clock. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul L. Modrich for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair. He has made contributions on photolyase and nucleotide excision repair in bacteria that have changed his field.
Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a transcontinental country located mainly in Western Asia, with a smaller portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. East Thrace, located in Europe, is separated from Anatolia by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorous strait and the Dardanelles. Turkey is bordered by Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest; Georgia to its northeast; Armenia, the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and Iran to the east; and Iraq and Syria to the south. Istanbul is the largest city, but more central Ankara is the capital. Approximately 70 to 80 per cent of the country's citizens identify as Turkish. Kurds are the largest minority; the size of the Kurdish population is a subject of dispute with estimates placing the figure at anywhere from 12 to 25 per cent of the population.
Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. Biochemical processes give rise to the complexity of life.
DNA repair is a collection of processes by which a cell identifies and corrects damage to the DNA molecules that encode its genome. In human cells, both normal metabolic activities and environmental factors such as radiation can cause DNA damage, resulting in as many as 1 million individual molecular lesions per cell per day. Many of these lesions cause structural damage to the DNA molecule and can alter or eliminate the cell's ability to transcribe the gene that the affected DNA encodes. Other lesions induce potentially harmful mutations in the cell's genome, which affect the survival of its daughter cells after it undergoes mitosis. As a consequence, the DNA repair process is constantly active as it responds to damage in the DNA structure. When normal repair processes fail, and when cellular apoptosis does not occur, irreparable DNA damage may occur, including double-strand breaks and DNA crosslinkages. This can eventually lead to malignant tumors, or cancer as per the two hit hypothesis.
Sancar is currently the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.He is the co-founder of the Aziz & Gwen Sancar Foundation, which is a non-profit organization to promote Turkish culture and to support Turkish students in the United States.
The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is a cancer research and treatment center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. One of 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, its clinical base is the N.C. Cancer Hospital, part of the UNC Health Care system. UNC Lineberger is the only public comprehensive cancer center in the state of North Carolina. The current director is H. Shelton Earp III who succeeded current NCI director Norman Sharpless
Aziz Sancar was born into a lower-middle-class family, where he spoke Arabic with his parents and Turkish with his siblings, in the Savur district of Mardin Province, southeastern Turkey on September 8, 1946.His oldest brother; Kenan Sancar is a retired Brigadier-General of the Turkish Armed Forces. He is the cousin of HDP Mardin deputy Mithat Sancar. He was the seventh of eight children.
Arabic is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE. It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, which is derived from Classical Arabic.
Savur is a district of Mardin Province of Turkey.
Mardin Province, is a province of Turkey with a population of 809,719 in 2017. The population was 835,173 in 2000. The capital of the Mardin Province is Mardin. Located near the traditional boundary of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, it has a diverse population, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people, with Kurds forming the majority of the province's population.
His parents were illiterate; however, they put great emphasis on education.He was educated by idealistic teachers who received their education in the Village Institutes, he later stated that this was a great inspiration to him. Throughout his school life, Sancar had great academic success that was noted by his teachers. He wanted to study chemistry whilst at high school, but was persuaded to study medicine after five of his classmates also got into medicine along with him. As such, he studied medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of Istanbul University.
Village Institutes were a group of schools founded according to the law dated 17 April 1940 in order to train the teachers. These schools are totally unique to Turkey and this project was led by Hasan Âli Yücel who was the minister of education at the time. They were the cornerstones of the rural development project. At the time there weren't any schools in most of the villages. Village Institutes were established to meet the needs of the teachers for each village. Despite their short life, they highly increased the number of primary schools in the country. They had strong support from the prime minister İsmet İnönü and the director general of primary education İsmail Hakkı Tonguç.
Istanbul University is a prominent Turkish university located in Istanbul.
In an interview, Sancar stated that in his youth, he was nationalist but he didn't participate in activities.
Sancar received his primary education near his hometown of Savur.He then completed his MD degree in Istanbul University of Turkey and completed his PhD degree on the photoreactivating enzyme of E. coli in 1977 at the University of Texas at Dallas in the laboratory of Claud Stan Rupert, now Professor Emeritus.
Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, Canada and some other countries, the MD denotes a professional graduate degree awarded upon graduation from medical school. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the MD is a research doctorate, higher doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree in medicine; in those countries, the equivalent professional degree is typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most English-speaking countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.
Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is a Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic, rod-shaped, coliform bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms (endotherms). Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in their hosts, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls due to food contamination. The harmless strains are part of the normal microbiota of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, and preventing colonization of the intestine with pathogenic bacteria, having a symbiotic relationship. E. coli is expelled into the environment within fecal matter. The bacterium grows massively in fresh fecal matter under aerobic conditions for 3 days, but its numbers decline slowly afterwards.
Aziz Sancar is honorary member of the Turkish Academy of Sciencesand the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
After graduating from Istanbul University, Sancar returned to Savur. Although he wanted to go to the United States, he was recommended to try out being a doctor and he worked as a doctor in the region for 1.5 years. He then won a scholarship from TÜBİTAK to pursue further education in biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University, but returned to Savur in 1973 as a doctor after spending 1.5 years there due to having social difficulties and inability to adapt to the American way of life. He only spoke French when he arrived in the US but learned English during his education at Johns Hopkins.
Soon after, he wrote to Rupert, who had been involved in the discovery of DNA repair and was at Johns Hopkins during Sancar's time there but had since moved to the University of Texas at Dallas. He was accepted and completed his PhD in molecular biology there.His interest had been stimulated by the recovery of bacteria, which had been exposed to deadly amounts of ultraviolet radiation, upon their illumination with blue light. In 1976, as part of his doctoral dissertation, he managed to replicate the gene for photolyase, an enzyme that repairs thymine dimers that result from ultraviolet damage.
After completing his PhD, Sancar had three rejected applications for postdoctoral positions and then took up work at Yale University as a laboratory technician.He worked at Yale for five years. Here, he started his field-changing work on nucleotide excision repair, another DNA mechanism that works in the dark. He elucidated the molecular details of this process, identifying uvrABC endonuclease and the genes that code for it, and furthermore discovering that these enzymes cut twice on the damaged strand of DNA, removing 12-13 nucleotides that include the damaged part.
Following his mechanistic elucidations of nucleotide exchange repair, he was accepted as a lecturer at the University of North Carolina, the only university that he got a positive response from out of the 50 he applied to. He has stated that his accent of English was detrimental to his career as a lecturer.At Chapel Hill, Sancar discovered the following steps of nucleotide excision repair in bacteria and worked on the more complex version of this repair mechanism in humans.
His longest-running study has involved photolyase and the mechanisms of photo-reactivation. In his inaugural article in the PNAS, Sancar captured the photolyase radicals he has chased for nearly 20 years, thus providing direct observation of the photocycle for thymine dimer repair.
Aziz Sancar was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 as the first Turkish-American member.He is the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is married to Gwen Boles Sancar, who graduated the same year and who is also a Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Together, they founded Carolina Türk Evi, a permanent Turkish Center in close proximity to the campus of UNC-CH, which provides graduate housing for four Turkish researchers at UNC-CH, short term guest services for Turkish visiting scholars, and a center for promoting Turkish-American interchange.
Sancar and his research team have discovered that two genes, Period and Cryptochrome , keep the circadian clocks of all human cells in proper rhythm, syncing them to the 24 hours of the day and seasons.Their findings were published in the Genes and Development journal in September 16, 2014. Sancar's research has provided a complete understanding of the workings of Circadian clocks in humans, which may be used to treat a wide range of different illnesses and disorders such as jet-lag and seasonal affective disorder, and may be useful in controlling and optimizing various cancer treatments.
Sancar is married to Gwen Boles Sancar, with whom he met during his PhD in Dallas, where she was also studying molecular biology. They got married in 1978.
In the immediate aftermath of being awarded the Nobel Prize, his ethnicity was questioned in social media.Sancar said he was "disturbed by some of the questions he received," particularly by questions about his ethnic background. When asked as to whether he is "a Turk or half-Arab" by the BBC, Aziz Sancar responded: "I told them that I neither speak Arabic nor Kurdish and that I was a Turk," he said. "I'm a Turk, that's it."
Aziz Sancar's brother Tahir informed in an interview that their family descended from Oghuz Turks who once migrated from Central Asia. He also said that his brother's Nobel Prize was an honor for all of Turkey, including the Kurds.
He was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul L. Modrich for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair.He was granted Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in Molecular Biophysics in 1984. Sancar is the second Turkish Nobel laureate after Orhan Pamuk, who is also an alumnus of Istanbul University.
Aziz Sancar donated his original Nobel Prize golden medal and certificate to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, with a presidential ceremony on 19 May 2016, which is the 97th anniversary of Atatürk initiating the Turkish War of Independence.He delivered a replica of his Nobel medal and certificate to Istanbul University, from which he earned his MD.
The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances.
Frederick Sanger was a British biochemist who twice won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, one of only two people to have done so in the same category, the fourth person overall with two Nobel Prizes, and the third person overall with two Nobel Prizes in the sciences. In 1958, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin". In 1980, Walter Gilbert and Sanger shared half of the chemistry prize "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids". The other half was awarded to Paul Berg "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant DNA".
Har Gobind Khorana was an Indian-born American biochemist. While on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that showed the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell and control the cell's synthesis of proteins. Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.
The year 1946 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man, formed on 4 February 2002 by the merger of The Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Its aim is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. As the world's largest independent cancer research charity it conducts research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Research activities are carried out in institutes, universities and hospitals across the UK, both by the charity's own employees and by its grant-funded researchers. It also provides information about cancer and runs campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the disease and influencing public policy.
Paul Berg is an American biochemist and professor emeritus at Stanford University. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, along with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger. The award recognized their contributions to basic research involving nucleic acids. Berg received his undergraduate education at Penn State University, where he majored in biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in 1952. Berg worked as a professor at Washington University School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine, in addition to serving as the director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Berg was presented with the National Medal of Science in 1983 and the National Library of Medicine Medal in 1986. Berg is a member of the Board of Sponsors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Robert William Holley was an American biochemist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for describing the structure of alanine transfer RNA, linking DNA and protein synthesis.
Cryptochromes are a class of flavoproteins that are sensitive to blue light. They are found in plants and animals. Cryptochromes are involved in the circadian rhythms of plants and animals, and possibly also in the sensing of magnetic fields in a number of species. The name cryptochrome was proposed as a portmanteau combining the cryptic nature of the photoreceptor, and the cryptogamic organisms on which many blue-light studies were carried out.
Photolyases are DNA repair enzymes that repair damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. These enzymes require visible light both for their own activation and for the actual DNA repair. The DNA repair mechanism involving photolyases is called photoreactivation. They mainly convert pyrimidine dimers into a normal pair of pyrimidine bases.
The Cancer Research UK London Research Institute (LRI) was a biological research facility which conducted research into the basic biology of cancer.
Richard D. Wood is an American molecular biologist specializing in research on DNA repair and mutation. He is known for pioneering studies on nucleotide excision repair (NER), particularly for reconstituting the minimum set of proteins involved in this process, identifying proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) as part of the NER complex and identifying mammalian repair polymerases.
Paul Lawrence Modrich is an American biochemist, James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is known for his research on DNA mismatch repair. Modrich received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, jointly with Aziz Sancar and Tomas Lindahl.
Science and technology in Turkey is centrally planned by TÜBİTAK and in responsibility of universities and research institutes. Research and development activities in Turkey show a significant jump in recent years.
Tomas Robert Lindahl FRS FMedSci is a Swedish-born British scientist specialising in cancer research. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry jointly with American chemist Paul L. Modrich and Turkish chemist Aziz Sancar for mechanistic studies of DNA repair.
The Massry Prize was established in 1996, and until 2009 was administered by the Meira and Shaul G. Massry Foundation. The Prize, of $40,000 and the Massry Lectureship, is bestowed upon scientists who have made substantial recent contributions in the biomedical sciences. Shaul G. Massry, M.D., who established the Massry Foundation, is Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. He served as Chief of its Division of Nephrology from 1974 to 2000. In 2009 the KECK School of Medicine was asked to administer the Prize, and has done so since that time. Ten winners of the Massry Prize have gone on to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
Michael Morris Rosbash is an American geneticist and chronobiologist. Rosbash is a professor at Brandeis University and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Rosbash's research group cloned the Drosophila period gene in 1984 and proposed the Transcription Translation Negative Feedback Loop for circadian clocks in 1990. In 1998, they discovered the cycle gene, clock gene, and cryptochrome photoreceptor in Drosophila through the use of forward genetics, by first identifying the phenotype of a mutant and then determining the genetics behind the mutation. Rosbash was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2003. Along with Michael W. Young and Jeffrey C. Hall, he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm".
Michael Warren Young is an American biologist and geneticist. He has dedicated over three decades to research studying genetically controlled patterns of sleep and wakefulness within Drosophila melanogaster.
Tasuku Honjo is a Japanese immunologist, and Nobel laureate best known for his identification of programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). He is also known for his molecular identification of cytokines: IL-4 and IL-5, as well as the discovery of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) that is essential for class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation.
Mithat Sancar is a Turkish professor of public and constitutional law, columnist and translator. Since the June 2015 general election he is a member of the Turkish parliament for Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP).
Anne babayla Arapça konuşurduk ama çocuklar kendi aramızda Türkçe konuşarak büyüdük.Translation: "We spoke in Arabic with our parents but as the children we grew up speaking in Turkish with one another."