Tolga Sutlu, Ph.D., Group Leader

Tolga received a B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering from Sabancı University in 2004. He worked as a Molecular Biologist in Acibadem Genetic Diagnosis and Cell Therapy Center Istanbul for a year before moving to Sweden to attend Stockholm Research School in Molecular Life Sciences in 2005. He received his Ph.D. in Medical Sciences from Karolinska Institutet in 2012. After a further 1.5 years of postdoctoral research at the Center for Hematology and Regenerative Medicine of Karolinska Institutet, he joined Sabancı University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center in February 2014. He specializes in molecular biology, primary cell culture, multi-color flow cytometry and experimental cell and gene therapy.

Ayhan Parlar, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Ayhan took his B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Istanbul University in 2014. During his undergraduate studies he has led a project on “ULBP2 Expression In Lung and Cervical Cancer Induced by Genotoxic Agents” supported with a TÜBİTAK 2209a Undergraduate Research Projects Grant. He also has internship experiences at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and at Haydarpaşa Numune Education and Research Hospital Genetic Diagnosis Center, Istanbul. He joined our lab in 2015 for his M.Sc. degree, which he received in January 2017 and continues his Ph.D. studies with us. Ayhan currently focuses on developing methods of genetic modification for targeting NK cells to tumor-associated antigens.

DidemDidem Özkazanç, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Didem graduated from TED Ankara College in 2008 and received her B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bilkent University in 2012. She worked as a research assistant in Erasmus University Rotterdam for a year and engaged in a study on the role of XLF in N-nucleotide addition during V(D)J recombination. She got her M.Sc. degree in Tumor Biology and Immunology at Hacettepe University Cancer Institute in 2015. Her  work at  Assoc. Prof.Dr. Güneş Esendağlı’s lab involved a collaboration project on neuroimmunology and mainly focused on “Costimulatory signals derived from myeloid leukemia cells contribute to functional exhaustion in CD4+ T cells”. She started her Ph.D. studies in our lab in September 2015 and her current research interest is molecular targets in cancer immunotherapy.

mertkayaMertkaya Aras, M.Sc., Ph.D. Student

Mertkaya graduated from Ege University with a B.Sc. degree in Bioengineering in 2010. He receşved his M.Sc. degree in Medical Biology at Ege University in 2013 focusing on complementary medicine in cancer treatment. His thesis investigated the therapeutic effects of a candidate extract called Fucoidan on androgen sensitive and insensitive prostate cancer cells. He started his Ph. D. studies in our lab in February 2016 and mainly focuses on biosimilar drug development and genetically modified NK cells.

CevriyeCevriye Pamukçu, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Cevriye graduated from Istanbul University with a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2009. She received her M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology at Yeditepe University in 2011. Her thesis was about the relationship between stem cells and cancer cells. She demonstrated that human tooth germ stem cells (hTGSCs) play a role in the growth of tumor cells by decreasing the effect of anti-cancer drugs but genetically modified hTGSCs expressing TRAIL and DKK-1 (apoptotic factors) might be a potential gene and cell therapy approach to treat certain types of cancer. She started her Ph.D. in our lab in February 2016 and currently focuses on biosimilar drug development and cancer immunotherapy.

LolaiLolai Ikromzoda, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Lola Ikromzoda has graduated from Fatih University Genetics and Bioenginering with high honor in 2012. During her undergrad, she had an internship in EMBL Heidelberg in Pepperkok’s group. She worked as research assistant in Fatih University for three years and got her M.Sc. degree from the same university in Genetics and Bioengineering Department under supervision of Assoc. Prof. Mustafa Fatih Abasıyanık with a thesis on the role of angiotensin converting enzyme polymorphisms on Transient Tachypnea of Newborns. She started her Ph.D. in our lab in February 2016 and currently focuses on biosimilar drug development.

Pegah Zahedimaram, M.Sc., Ph.D. student

Pegah received her B.Sc. in Pure Chemistry from Shahid Beheshti University (Iran) in 2012. She got her M.Sc. degree in Analytical Chemistry from the same University in 2014 working on liquid -phase microextraction methods and separation techniqes including HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromotography) and GC (Gas Chromotography). She also worked as a research assistant in Chemistry Research Center at Shahid Beheshti University in 2014. She has joined our lab in February 2016 and currently works towards her Ph.D. degree. Her research interests include antibody purification methods and biosimilar drug development.

AydanAydan Saraç, B.Sc., M.Sc. student

Aydan received her B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Boğaziçi University in 2012. She had support through a prestigious TUBITAK scholarship during her education because of her success at the national university entry exam. She is a member of Advanced Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Group (IGBAM) team since April 2013 in TUBİTAK Marmara Research Center. She is mainly involved in library preparation steps for next-generation sequencing applications such as genomics, epigenomics, exomics and transcriptomics analysis and working with Illumina Platforms, Hiseq2000 and 2500. She started her M.Sc. studies in our lab in September 2015 and would like to focus on analysis of data originating from omics resources.


Gizem Hazal Şentürk, former B.Sc. student

Hazal has done her graduation thesis in our lab at the final year of her studies towards a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Bioengineering at Sabancı University. Her graduation thesis was about CRISPR mediated targeted genome editing of the NK92 cell line in Dr. Tolga Sutlu’s lab. Her prior research experiences include Dr. Batu Erman and Dr. Erdal Toprak’s labs at Sabancı University as well as an internship visit to Dr. Jonathan A. Fletcher‘s lab at Harvard Medical School, for work focusing on the discovery of novel mutations in mesothelioma and GIST.

Esen Doğan, former post-doctoral researcher

Esen graduated from Middle East Technical University (METU) with a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2007. She got her M.Sc. degree in 2010 from Sabanci University with a study on the characterization of a drought stress-related protein. During her doctoral work at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg, she identified and characterized a PML body-associated transcriptional corepressor as a novel mammalian SUMO E3 ligase and received her Dr. rer. nat. degree in Natural Sciences in July, 2014. Esen has been part of our lab from June 2015 to June 2016 and worked on the purification and characterization of exosomes for use in immunotherapy.

Ece Canan Sayitoğlu, former Ph.D. student

Canan graduated from Üsküdar American Academy in 2005 and received her B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences and Bioengineering at Sabanci University in 2009. She got her M.Sc. degree in Immunology at King’s College London in 2010. Her M.Sc. work at Dr. Timothy Tree‘s lab focused on generation of regulatory T cells from human PBMCs for immunotherapy. She started her Ph.D. at Sabanci University in 2012. Her work includes targeted genome editing by the use of TALENs and CRISPRs in Dr. Batu Erman‘s lab and viral gene therapy for the modification of NK cells in our lab. Canan received her Ph.D. degree in January 2017 and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Adil Doğanay Duru’s lab at Nova Southeastern University Cell Therapy Institute, Florida.