Principal Investigator

Ceyda Açılan Ayhan

Dr. Ceyda Acilan Ayhan graduated with honors from Bogaziçi University from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2001. She earned her doctoral degree in 2006 at the University of Pittsburgh in the department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, where she studied the role of DNA repair proteins in the formation of anaphase bridges under the supervision of Dr. William S. Saunders. She pursued her research interests as a post-doctoral associate at the University of Pittsburgh in the same laboratory and worked on how multipolar spindles are formed and whether cancer cells can be selectively killed using these segregation defects as a distinguishing factor.
In 2008, Dr. Ayhan joined TUBITAK, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Institute as a Senior Researcher. She received her Chief Senior position in 2013 and her associate professorship in 2014. Since 2018, she started to work as a faculty member at Koç University, in the School of Medicine.
Her work is supported by several different sources, including 7th European Framework Programme, International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), L’Oreal UNESCO, TUBITAK (1001, 1003 and 3501 programmes), Turkish Ministry of Health (TUSEB), Koc University-School of Medicine, Turkish Academy of Sciences (TUBA-GEBIP), Science Academy (BAGEP), and Eczacibasi Holding, a major Pharmaceutical company in Türkiye.
Currently, the ongoing projects in Ceyda ACILAN AYHAN laboratory try to address two main questions:
1- What are the mechanisms that cluster centrosomes and how can we selectively target cancer cells, which escape cell death via clustering their extra centrosomes?
2- Can we revert drug resistance / prime cancer cells for cell death through targeted inhibition of epigenetic modifiers? What are the molecular mechanisms involved in this process?

Postdoctoral Researchers

Buse Cevatemre

I have been involved in several research projects on anti-cancer drug development and investigating their mechanisms of action. Since 2013, I have published 27 peer-reviewed articles in high impact international scientific journals such as Pharmacological Research, PLos One, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and BBA General Subjects. I was the first author in 6 of these publications. In 2018, I was rewarded with the “MOKAD Young Basic Cancer Researcher” award by Molecular Cancer Research (MOKAD) and Basic Oncology Society. I have long been interested in understanding the complex biology of cancer. I received a YÖK (Council of Higher Education) scholarship to investigate the efficacy of a patented drug candidate on prostate cancer patient samples and primary cultures (York University, UK, 2012). During this research, I focused on the biology of cancer stem cells and metastatic prostate cancer, and then got interested in “drug resistance in cancer”. During my PhD program, I received a TUBITAK 1002 grant fund to conduct my PhD thesis studies which is relevant to drug resistance (epithelial mesenchymal transition). I am currently working in Ceyda Açılan Ayhan’s research group as a Post-Doctoral Researcher (KUTTAM). My research is focused on epigenetic related mechanisms in drug resistance and targeted drugs that can revert/inhibit these mechanisms.


S. Can Özcan

I graduated from Uludag University with the degree of DVM in 2011 and PhD in Biochemistry in 2018. I have involved in several research projects on understanding cancer cell metabolism and biology with a focus on PFKFB enzymes, funded by grants from TUBITAK, EU Marie Curie, Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program and NIH. In 2015, I was rewarded with the TUBITAK 2214 abroad research scholarship and spent a year in Dr. Jason Chesney’s lab in Louisville, USA. During this research, I focused on the regulation of cancer cell cycle by PFKFB3, primarily known as a metabolic enzyme. During my PhD studies I have worked on pancreatic cancer cell metabolism and contribution of metabolism on metastasis. I am currently working in Ceyda Açılan Ayhan’s research group as a Post-Doctoral Researcher (KUTTAM). Currently my research involves understanding the role of amplified centrosomes on cellular division disorders with a focus on Nek2A kinase in human cancers.


Graduate Students

Barış Sergi

I obtained my BSc degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bahcesehir University. During my undergraduate studies, I have also gained hands-on experience of wet-lab techniques while working on various research projects, including the role of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) mechanism on lung cancer progression and the development of new approaches and drug derivatives targeting oncogenic Kras protein by phage display method.  I had a summer internship in Conklin Lab at UAlbany Cancer Research Center, NY, USA in 2015 – studying molecular insight of the BTK signaling and its role in prostate cancer survival. In 2018, I and my colleagues were awarded to undergraduate research project support funded by TUBITAK (2209-A). Currently, I am a PhD student in “Cellular and Molecular Medicine” program at Koc University and I joined Ceyda Acilan Ayhan’s research group at KUTTAM as a PhD researcher. My current research focuses on enlightening the role of epigenetic mechanisms that can revert the chemotherapeutic drug resistance acquired by lysosomal biogenesis in human cancers.


Batuhan Mert Kalkan

I graduated from Koc University with a Molecular Biology and Genetics degree in 2015. I followed my academic career with a Master’s degree in Biotechnology in Yeditepe University, focusing on development of gene editing techniques for treatment of sickle cell disease. Currently I am a PhD candidate at Cellular and Molecular Medicine Programme in Koc University, Graduate School of Health Sciences. My current research focus is to investigate molecular mechanisms regulating centrosomal clustering in cancer cells with supernumerary centrosomes. Outside of the lab, I fancy partying and traveling. My social interests are electronic music, mixology, football and cars.


İpek Bulut

I graduated from Yıldız Technical University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2018. In the same year, I started my master’s degree in “Biomedical Science and Engineering” at Koç University. My research is based on the importance of epigenetic regulations in leukemia and investigating epigenetic factors leading drug resistance in cancer cells. Currently, I am a PhD student in “Cellular and Molecular Medicine” program at Koc University.


Naz Uzunalioğlu

I graduated from Istanbul University with a major in “Molecular Biology and Genetics” in June, 2019. In my bachelor thesis, I have focused on the investigation of cytotoxic activity of Cerulenin and Vitamin E combination in U87 Glioma Cell Line. I started my Master’s degree in “Cellular and Molecular Medicine” program at Koç University.

Beyza Dedeoğlu

I graduated from Molecular Biology and Genetics department at Boğaziçi University in 2021. During my undergraduate studies, I did an internship at Genome Regulation Labarotary and Cancer Signaling Labarotary at Boğaziçi University. Currently I am a master’s student at Koç University as a part of Ceyda Acılan Ayhan’s research group at KUTTAM. I am mostly interested in epigenetics and cancer. My main research focus is the study of epigenetic regulators as the targets of drug resistant cancers, specifically taxane resistant prostate cancer.

Ayça Acar

I graduated from Boğaziçi University, department of Molecular Biology and Genetics with a double major degree from Chemistry in 2021. During my undergraduate studies, I did an internship at a bioinformatics company and undertaken the task of analyzing the genomics data obtained with next generation sequencing technologies. Currently, I am a Master’s student in Cellular and Molecular Medicine program at Koç University. As a part of Ceyda Açılan Ayhan’s lab group at KUTTAM, my research focus is the investigation of transcriptional factors involved in the drug resistance in cancer cells.

Batuhan Altay

I’m a molecular biology and genetics student who graduated from Abdullah Gul University in Jun 2021. During my first year, I was involved in research on the investigation of ciliopathy-related diseases to gain lab and research experiences forehand as a voluntary undergraduate student in Kaplan lab. In the year 2019, I was nominated on the Erasmus+ scholarship and I obtained 3.5 months of internship at Robin Lab, Sorbonne University, Paris. I was worked on cortical actomyosin dynamics on the one-cell stage of C. elegans embryo with molecular biology approaches and optogenetics for molecular manipulation in combination with light-inducible molecules. I have applied molecular constructions and creating transgenic animals using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing method, moreover, I used microscopy techniques to understand single-molecule interactions. In my last year of bachelor’s, I have participated in Ayaz-Guner Lab to complete my final thesis. My senior project consists of the Identification of Mesenchymal stem cell senescence-associated transcription factors mass spectrometry-based proteomics approach. After I graduated, I was a project student for 4 months on neuroscience who works on neurobiological and behavioral effects of PTSD and Anxiety on rat CNS at Sandi Lab, EPFL, Switzerland. Currently, I am a master’s student in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at CAA Lab, Koç University.

Enes Çiçek

I graduated from Abdullah Gul University, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. During the early years of my undergraduate education, I was part of a research group that focuses on ciliopathies, especially Joubert syndrome. We were identifying candidate genes that could be functional in cilia biogenesis. For the capstone project of my undergraduate education, we were defining new treatment strategies via inhibitory drugs on cancer and its signalling pathways. Currently, I am a Master’s Student in the “Cellular & Molecular Medicine” program at Koc University.

Undergraduate Students

Arda Işıklar


Ata Alpay Canbaz (Undergraduate Student)

Berk Mızrak (Undergraduate Student)