02 Mar 2022

Grand Award to Our Graduate Prof. Dr. İvet Bahar

This year’s recipient of Vehbi Koç Award is our graduate Prof. Dr. İvet Bahar, who paved the way for the development of life-saving pharmacological products with the computational and systems biology studies she pioneered.

News: İTÜ Media and Communication Office

This year’s recipient of Vehbi Koç Award given by Vehbi Koç Foundation annually for culture, education and healthcare, respectively is Prof. Dr. İvet Bahar. Our graduate, who completed her Ph.D. at ITU in 1986, won this award for paving the way for the development of life-saving pharmacological products with the computational and systems biology studies she pioneered. 

Her studies led to the development of mRNA vaccines

While the methods developed by Bahar are used not only in basic sciences, but also in drug development and clinical studies; her recent work focused on computer-assisted drug development and paved the way for significant breakthroughs in the science of computational pharmacology. Computational molecular and systems biology also paved the way for the development of cell and genetic therapies, as well as mRNA vaccines, which were developed specifically for cancer treatments and ushered in a new era in healthcare during the pandemic.

Prof. Dr. Bahar also took part in studies on treatments in many different areas, such as clinical neurotransmission studies and new approaches in treatment, brain ischemia, liver fibrosis, and the development of treatment methods that suppress the immune system.

 “If you spend effort, there is nothing you can't do”

Speaking at the award ceremony held on the digital platform due to the pandemic restrictions, Prof. Dr. İvet Bahar said that thanks to the morale and support given by the Vehbi Koç Award, she will continue to do her work, which she has already been doing with great pleasure, now with greater enthusiasm and determination. Bahar addressed especially young girls who are considering stepping into the world of science and expressed the following: “One of my missions is to set an example for future generations and to shed light; to help them further develop and use their talents. A very important issue that I would like to emphasize, addressing young girls, especially those who will choose the world of science for an academic career is that; if you want, desire and spend effort to make it happen, there is nothing you can't do. As long as you can show the determination to face the obstacles that will come your way and continue on your way without fail. I would like to thank the Koç Family, the executives of the Vehbi Koç Foundation and the members of the Selection Committee for deeming me worthy of the Vehbi Koç Award, they honored me.”

About Prof. Dr. İvet Bahar

She completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. education in Chemical Engineering at Boğaziçi University and her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Istanbul Technical University in 1986 and became interested in polymer physics. She continued her academic studies at Boğaziçi University between 1986-2001. In 2001, she was appointed Professor to the Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 2016, she was invited to the White House by the former US President Barack Obama for a speech titled “Big Data in Multiscale Modeling and Biology.”

An elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and American National Academy of Sciences, and currently a member of European Research Council Physical and Engineering Sciences Review Board, Bahar has more than 300 articles in the field of computational biology. İvet Bahar was also the president of two different centers, which are working in the fields of biological sciences and drug designs with projects supported by the American National Institute of Health. Being conferred the title of Distinguished Professor by Pittsburgh University School of Medicine in 2013, İvet Bahar currently conducts research at the same university as the Chair of the Department of Computational and Systems Biology, which she founded in 2004.

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