Dean of Faculty of Science and Chair


Dr. Özçelik graduated from İstanbul University, İstanbul Medical School in 1986. He completed his postdoctoral work in physiology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, and in human genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine and at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University School of Medicine. He returned to Turkey in 1992 as assistant professor and founding head of the Department of Genetics at DETAM, Istanbul University. In 1995, he joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University. He was named associate professor in 1994 and professor in 2004. He was appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Science in 2012. His research focuses on inherited phenotypes in humans. He contributed to the mapping of genes to human and mouse chromosomes, and identified SNRPN in Prader-Willi syndrome, PMP22 in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease Type IA, PHKA2 in X-linked liver glycogenesis, MLH1 in MLH1-deficiency, VLDLR & WDR81 & ATP8A2 in cerebellar hypoplasia associated with quadrupedal gait in humans, HTRA2 in Parkinson’s disease and essential tremors, and RAD21 in chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. He introduced DNA-based individual identification to the Turkish judiciary system and also led diagnostic genetics laboratories both at Istanbul and Bilkent Universities. Currently, he works on the complex phenotypes of obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome in collaboration with Rockefeller University. Dr. Özçelik is a member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences serving as a councilor, board member and education committee chair of the European Society of Human Genetics, program committee member of the American Society of Human Genetics, and past-president of the Turkish Society of Medical Genetics. He received the TÜBİTAK Young investigator Award in 1996, Bayındır Medical Award in 2006, and TÜBİTAK Science Award in 2012.


Dr. Belkaya obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University, Ankara in 2007 and his Master’s degree in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering under supervision of Prof. Batu Erman at Sabanci University, Istanbul in 2009. Between 2009 and 2014, he completed his PhD training in Immunology in the laboratory of Prof. Nicolai van Oers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, USA. Between 2014 and 2019, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Jean-Laurent Casanova at the Rockefeller University in New York, USA. Dr. Belkaya has received numerous prestigious awards during his graduate studies including Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Award (2015), American Heart Association Postdoctoral Scholarship (2016), Jeffrey Modell Foundation Specific Defect Research Grant Award (2017), and American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Foundation Clinical and Translational Research Fellowship (2018). He is also recipient of TUBITAK’s 2232 International Fellowship for Outstanding Researchers (2020), EMBO Installation Grant (2021), Science Academy’s Young Scientist (BAGEP) Award (2021), and Isil Berat Barlan Award in Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases Research (2021). Dr. Belkaya also worked as an adjunct professor at Fordham College at Lincoln Center in New York City. As extracurricular activities, Dr. Belkaya is interested in outdoor recreation, nature documentaries and racket sports.


Since September of 2015, Dr. Murat Alper Cevher is an Assistant Professor at Bilkent University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. He did his undergraduate studies at Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and graduated in 2004. Later he joined the CUNY Biochemistry Ph.D. program and earned his doctoral degree in 2009. Following that, between 2010-2015 he carried-out his postdoctoral work at the Rockefeller University, a world class institute, in the laboratory of Dr. Robert G. Roeder, a pioneer in the field of transcription. Dr. Cevher is the recipient of the American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellowship (2013), the EMBO Installation Grant (2017), EMBO small grant (2018), TUBITAK 1001 (2019), EPIC-XS (2019),  has five peer reviewed publications in high rank journals such as Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, EMBO J, Cancer Research, Wiley’s RNA Review and Nucleic Acids Research of which he is the first author in the first four of them. Dr. Cevher  is currently reconstituting the most critical transcriptional co-activator protein complex named the human Mediator. It is one of the largest existing protein complexes in nature and has 30-subunits. He is using the state-of-the-art Multibac baculovirus expression system to carry out this reconstitution.  Part of his long-term goal is to build the entire Mediator complex and characterise its interaction surface with activators such as the Estrogen Receptor and structurally-functionally understand the mechanisms behind how these activators activate their target genes that lead to breast cancer.


Dr Onur Ҫizmecioḡlu graduated from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University in 2002. He received his Ph.D. degree in 2009 from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University in cell biology. During his PhD and a subsequent concise post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Prof. Ingrid Hoffmann, he conducted research in the fields of cell cycle and centrosome duplication. His efforts in the Hoffmann lab culminated in publication of key first and/or second author research articles in prestigious journals including The Journal of Cell Biology, The EMBO Journal, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Cell Science and Cell Cycle. In order to gain expertise in signal transduction and cancer biology, he joined the lab of Prof. Thomas M. Roberts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Harvard Medical School as a research fellow in 2011.  His research at DFCI elucidated unique and redundant features of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) isoforms in regulation of signal transduction and carcinogenesis and resulted in two additional publications in Oncogene and eLIFE (and one other under revision). In September 2016, Dr Ҫizmecioḡlu returned to his Alma mater and joined the ranks of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics as an assistant professor. His current research is centered on how different members of PI 3-kinases are involved in signaling and cancer.

Asst. Prof. EBRU ERBAY

Ebru Erbay is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey since 2010 and serves as Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention at the Ludwig Maximillians University in Munich, Germany as of 2016.  She received MD degree from Ankara University Faculty of Medicine and PhD in Cell and Structural Biology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. During her PhD studies she discovered the essential role of mTOR in myogenesis. Dr. Erbay completed her postdoctoral training with Prof. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil at Harvard University, School of Public Health where she demonstrated the therapeutic potential of targeting endoplasmic reticulum stress in cardiovascular disease. Dr. Erbay has been honored for her work by her election to the Turkish Academy of Science Young Investigator Program (TUBA-GEBIP), received NIH’s Ruth Kirschstein Research Service Award, American Heart predoctoral fellowship, Proctor & Gamble thesis research award and graduated with high honors from Ankara University Medical School. Her current research focus is at the intersection of nutrient-sensitive, inflammatory and stress pathways in the context of metabolic diseases. Dr. Erbay is the first time recipient of the prestigious European Research Commission (ERC) Starting Grant in Life Sciences awarded to a researcher in Turkey. Her research program at Bilkent University is generously funded by additional grants from European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), Marie Curie Reintegration, Turkey/Germany Bilateral Funding Scheme (TUBITAK/BMBF) and the International COST Action (TUBITAK) grants. She also served as an associate advisor to the Science Translational Medicine. Her twenty publications received more than 1300 citations and her review on metainflammation was chosen a classic only after 5 years by Forschende Komplementarmedizin.


Dr. Serkan Göktuna obtained his bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics at Middle East Technical University (2003). Later he obtained his master’s degree in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering at Sabancı University (2005) and his PhD degree in Human Biology at Technical University of Munich (2010). His PhD work with Prof. Florian Greten earned him 3 CellPress publications and expertise in in vivo mouse models of tumorigenesis. Then he moved to Belgium to do Postdoctoral research on IKK-related kinases in colorectal tumorigenesis under Dr. Alain Chariot’s supervision (2010-15). Dr. Göktuna has received numerous scholarships or fellowships during these years (like Fonds Leon Fredericq (FLF) postdoctoral research grant, METU and TÜBİTAK Basic Sciences Scholarship, Sabancı University Graduate Scholarship and Assistantship, TÜBİTAK 2213 doctoral fellowship, WELBIO and FNRS Postdoctoral Fellowships). In March 2015, he started assistant professorship position in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University. He has currently 11 peer reviewed publications in internationally high ranking journals like Cell, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Cell Reports, Nature Communications, Cell Death and Differentiation, Cancer Research, FEBS Journal and Journal of Immunology. Dr. Göktuna is the recipient of TÜBA GEBİP (2016) and Bilim Akademisi BAGEP (2017) awards as well as TÜBİTAK 2232 installation fellowship (2016-18). Currently, Dr. Göktuna has three TÜBİTAK funded research projects (two ARDEB 1001 and one ARDEB 3501) in which his team is exploring the roles of inflammatory signaling pathways in cancer development and dissemination.


Prof. Ihsan Gursel received his PhD from the Middle East Technical University (METU, Ankara, Turkey) in 1995. He is currently pursuing research on immunology, nanomedicine, biomaterials, and tries to develop more effective treatment modalities to cancer and infectious diseases with an interdisciplinary approach. Before joining Bilkent University, Dr. Gursel spent more than ten years of his career working in different research and government institutes, including The School of Pharmacy, University College London (1993-1994) and METU, Department of Biological Sciences (1995-1998) and lastly US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (1998-2005) as a senior scientist. During his last post in US FDA, Dr. Gursel in addition to his regulatory duties, he engaged in research activities aiming to understand the immunomodulatory properties of DNA and other nucleic acid molecules on innate immune system. Currently, his Lab tries to harness nucleic acid ligands for immunotherapy of cancer, and infectious diseases, in addition to utilize them to down-regulate auto-immune and auto-inflammatory symptoms. He has organized several national and international meetings and workshops on immunology and nanobiosciences. His cutting-edge research activities led him to issue several international patents as a co-inventor. Most of his articles published in prestigious journals such as Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Immunology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Infection and Immunity, Allergy, and Biomaterials. He has received over 3450 citations (h-Factor: 29). He is a full-member of the Academy of Sciences, and executive committee member of the Turkish Immunology Society. He is also a co-founder of several national/international societies. Dr. Gursel is married and has a son. Among his special interests, Dr. Gursel likes to read history and autobiography books and listens to jazz, classical music and opera.

Assoc. Prof. ÖZLEN KONU

Dr. Ozlen Konu graduated from METU in 1987 with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. Dr. Konu pursued her graduate studies in the Biology Department at Texas Tech University, and received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1992 and 1999, respectively. She was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Memphis at Tennessee during 2000-2002. Since September 2002, she is a faculty member at the Dept. Molecular Biology and Genetics, Bilkent University. Dr. Konu’s research interests include gene expression data analysis and meta-analysis with respect to cholinergic signaling as it applies to addiction and cancer, and comparative expression profiling using zebrafish model.


Dr. Degirmenci Uzun graduated from Middle East Technical University in 2010. She then received her MSc degree from Koc University in 2012. She obtained her PhD degree at University of Zurich in 2018. During her PhD thesis, she identified the essential Wnt–secreting stem cell niche in the intestine and characterized its roles during homeostasis, regeneration and cancer. She could achieve first author publications in the journals Cell Reports and Nature. She aims to identify the role of stem cell niche in pathological situations.

Assoc. Prof. IŞIK G. YULUĞ

Dr. Isik G. Yulug is Associate Professor at Bilkent University, Molecular Biology and Genetics. She has been the Chair of the Department between 2014-2017. Dr. Yulug graduated from Hacettepe University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Ankara, Turkey. She received her master’s degree from Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine, Medical Biology Department in 1990. She then earned her PhD degree in molecular genetics at University of London, the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in 1995. She worked at University of London, Ludwig Cancer Institute, London and M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center. She was awarded with NATO PhD fellowship by TUBITAK. She is a recipient of Lawley Scholarship by University of London, the Best Scientific Work Award of the World Society for Breast Health and the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award. She joined to the Bilkent University in 1996. She acted as assistant chair between 2001-2007 and as a deputy chair in 2007-2008. She has been the member of Science Faculty Board since 2002, member of the Board of directors in Graduate School of Engineering and Science, Bilkent University since 2012. She served as Council Member in European Association for Cancer Research and has been representing Turkey in the council for four years. She worked as an Elected Steering Committee Member for the Research Networking Program on Frontiers of Functional Genomics in European Science Foundation since for four years. She is currently serving as a member of UNESCO Bioethics Committee member in Turkey. Her group has concentrated working on the identification, expression profiling, and epigenetic mechanisms of the genes involved in initiation and progression of human malignancies especially in breast cancer. Her articles published in citation index journals received over 1500 citations.