The Sabri Ülker Food Research Foundation was established in 2009 as an independent, scientific, non-profit organization with the objective of enhancing nutrition science and knowledge, with a special focus on the Turkish population and regional neighbours.
In order to encourage new scientific research of the highest quality in the area of nutrition, metabolism, and public health, the Foundation has initiated Sabri Ülker Science Award. In its international program, the Foundation's goal is to particularly recognize early stage independent scientists who are engaged in highest quality nutrition and metabolism research in all relevant areas. In its National program, the Foundation focuses on Nutrition and related educational and practical needs of the Turkish population.
Asst. Prof. Ebru Erbay, M.D., from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University, was the winner of the fourth Sabri Ülker Science Award for her research titled "Bioactive Lipids for Health."
Dr. Erbay received her award from Oltan Sungurlu, the Sabri Ülker Foundation's Honorary Chairman; Zeki Ziya Sözen, Ph.D., a Sabri Ülker Foundation Science Committee Member; and Mark Elliott, Vice Provost of International Affairs at Harvard University.
The research of Asst. Prof. Ebru Erbay, the winner of the fourth Sabri Ülker Science Award, reveals that palmitoleic acid in the body has a protective effect, contrary to what has previously been believed. Dr. Erbay showed that palmitoleic acid, an unsaturated fat, can remove the saturated fats that damage cell structure, and can stop potentially deadly arteriosclerosis. Her research was performed on rats fed with very high calorie foods. Dr. Erbay's "Bioactive Lipids for Health" research was featured in Science Translational Medicine.
After receiving her M.D. from Ankara University, Asst. Prof. Dr. Erbay earned her Ph.D. in cell and structural biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She undertook her postdoctoral training with Prof. Gökhan Hotamışlıgil at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and became the first Turkish recipient of the European Research Commission (ERC) Starting Grant in Life Sciences. Dr. Erbay also served as Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Cardiovascular Prevention at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Dr. Erbay has been honored many times for her research, including being elected to the Turkish Academy of Sciences Young Research Fellow Program and receiving an American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellowship.
One of the rising stars of Turkey in the scientific world, Asst. Prof. Kıvanç Birsoy was awarded with Sabri Ülker Science Award. Birsoy, continuing with his scientific career on the link between cancer and metabolism at the Laboratory of Metabolic Regulation and Genetics of the Rockefeller University; received the award from Prof. Brian Kobilka, the recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Kıvanç Birsoy is mapping the interdependence of different types of cancer with foods based on "DNA-Barcoding Technology." This study also sheds light on the discovery of new, sustainable and economic treatment methods in the fight against cancer.