I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey and went to medical school at Istanbul University, which enrolls high school graduates with highest scores in national university entrance exam. This honor has come to me with full scholarship and career development funding for six years of medical school. In my first year, I was fascinated by immunology and hematology/oncology. My initial studies as a medical student focused on clinical investigations in leukemia and lymphoma, as well as understanding the clinicopathological characteristics of rare hematopoietic tumors including dendritic cell neoplasms. The latter work has been a landmark study, which was cited extensively within a short period of time while being a reference for several editions of WHO Classification of Tumors series. These projects as a medical student resulted in 11 manuscripts (4 first-author) and I graduated as the Valedictorian of my class in 2014. Applying the clinical knowledge and experience into my basic and translational research program to produce clinically applicable science has been the most fulfilling aspect of my career. During my last year as a medical student, I had the opportunity to do four months of clinical elective rotations in top cancer institutions including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, National Institutes of Health, and Duke Cancer Institute. This experience helped me understand the clinical practice and healthcare in the U.S., and more importantly, it has given a perspective to the clinician scientist model I wanted to achieve. This captivating idea of joining the rare breed of physician scientists was the major motivation for me to move to the U.S. Before proceeding with residency training, I wanted to learn more about basic and translational cancer research. After my graduation, I had the opportunity to join the laboratory of Drs. Justin Lathia and Ofer Reizes in Cleveland Clinic. During my two and a half years of postdoctoral research fellowship, I utilized functionally validated reporter systems to enrich cancer stem cells (CSCs) in several solid tumor models. By leveraging this new technology, I uncovered a unique bifurcating signaling pathway originating from CD55, which regulates both self-renewal and therapeutic resistance in endometrioid tumors. Additionally, I have gained the necessary skill set in generating and interpreting genomic data while working with Dr. Jaroslaw Maciejewski's group. I demonstrated the value of DNMT3A, U2AF1, and EZH2 mutations in predicting poor outcomes in patients with intermediate-risk AML. In addition, my studies in acute lymphoblastic leukemia highlighted the importance of minimal residual disease assessment, even at second remission, as an outcome in clinical trials and a guide for clinical decision making. I was awarded the Cleveland Clinic Research Program Committee Award in 2016 to fund my postdoctoral laboratory work, which has ultimately resulted in 2017 Elsa Albrecht Fellow Award (1st position). With this postdoctoral work, I had 11 publications (6 first-author) in prestigious journals including Leukemia, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Blood Cancer Journal, American Journal of Hematology, Leukemia Lymphoma, Journal of Hematology Oncology, and Leukemia Research. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a postdoctoral researcher, learning and building skills to become a next generation scientist. However, I missed to be at the bedside as well, so I sent my application for internal medicine residency during my second year. The Ohio State University stood out as a great match for me with the outstanding mentors, collegial training environment and a well-outlined curriculum allowing its trainees to pursue their areas of interest. Shortly after starting my intern year, I was amazed by the culture of support and absence of hierarchy among residents. The world-famous faculty has a track record of mentoring several physician scientists across different disciplines. I am also very fortunate to receive exceptional mentorship from Dr. John Byrd, and the opportunities provided to me by the PSTP program to continue my laboratory work during busy residency years. With the work that I have done in my intern year, I applied and received ASH Resident HONORS Award in 2018. Finally, Columbus is a fun place to live with plenty of events, tasty restaurants and low cost of living.
MD, Istanbul University Cerrahpasa School of Medicine, 2014
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, 2017
Honors and Awards
2008 - Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Credit and Dormitories Institution, Turkey
2008 - 2014 Dean's list (twelve times)
2014 - Graduated with Highest Honor (1st rank), Valedictorian of 2014, Cerrahpasa School of Medicine, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
2016 - Caregiver Appreciation Award, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
2016 - Cleveland Clinic Research Program Committee Award, Cleveland, OH
2016 - Abstract Award, Cancer Stem Cell Meeting, Cleveland, OH
2017 - ASH Abstract Achievement Award, 59th ASH Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA
2017 - Elsa Albrecht Fellow Award (1st position), Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
2018 - AACR Early-career Hill Day, Washington, D.C.
2018 - Pelotonia Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
2018 - ASH Resident HONORS Award
2018 - Resident Excellence in Research Award, Ohio State University Internal Medicine Research Day