PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory (NDAL)
NDAL’s research encompasses the molecular mechanisms leading to progressive brain diseases, e.g., Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington’s Diseases, ALS and motor neuron disorders, ataxias, dystonias, and movement disorders at large, myopathies and neuropathies. NDAL has tight collaborations with almost all neurological units throughout Turkey and earned the trust of hospitals and clinics across the country. With its dedicated team, long-established know-how, and state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure, the lab has evolved into a reference center that can diagnose and conduct research on progressive brain diseases on a molecular level. Having trained several post-doctoral researchers, PhD students, and master students from 2005 to the present, NDAL currently employs several graduate students, including postdoctoral fellows, PhD and MSc students, two full-time administrative assistants, a lab coordinator, and a technical assistant. The lab also continuously provides undergraduate students with research experience.
NDAL at Koç University
The translocation of NDAL in 2018 to Koç University Medical School is of groundbreaking importance since a tight collaboration between bench scientists and clinicians has never been as crucial and important as it is now. Today with its huge number of neurodegenerative disease samples and patient data, with its international collaborations and large-scale projects and with its well-trained and dedicated team, NDAL greatly benefits from the professional clinical setting at Koç University’s School of Medicine, a rising star in the Turkish education system, attracting the top students of Turkey. With its Translational Medicine Research Center, KUTTAM, its dynamic and experienced Neurology Department, including a new center for neuromuscular diseases, the University is a great opportunity for NDAL's sustainability to further grow and thrive. In addition to its efforts in human genetics and genome analysis, NDAL at Koç University has set up research facilities necessary for functional cell biology and bioinformatics.
NDAL International Collaborations
NDAL was increasingly involved in the last three years in several large European collaborations, assuming leading roles. The invaluable and unconditional support of Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation along with the stimulating research environment at Koç University’s KUTTAM with its powerful infrastructure, including a newly established clinical research unit, has allowed NDAL to further upgrade its unique leading position. This, in turn, allowed the laboratory to become a competitive collaborator to renowned centers in Europe and North America, becoming a reliable partner in international grant applications.
NDAL Academic Advisors
Considered among the most reputable specialists of ALS and motor neuron development worldwide, Prof. Robert Brown (UMass, USA) and Prof. Jeffrey Macklis (Harvard University, USA) have served as academic advisors of NDAL since its foundation in 2005.
SUNA KIRAÇ Conferences on Neurodegeneration İstanbul
Organized biennially under the leadership of Profs. Robert Brown, Jeffrey Macklis, A. Nazlı Başak and hosted by the Pera Museum and Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation, the Suna Kıraç Neurodegeneration Conferences-Istanbul have become a very prestigious international conference series that attract leading scientists in the field of neurodegenerative disease mechanisms and emerging therapies. The Suna Kıraç Conferences not only contribute to the academic and social growth of NDAL and its team but also make the laboratory's presence better known in the international scene. During the Conference, participants have the great opportunity to listen to the most recent research of world-renowned scientists and to get in direct touch with them. The Suna Kıraç Conferences offer a priceless experience not only for the students of NDAL but also for PhD students and young scientists from all across the nation. The Fifth Suna Kıraç Conference was held in November 2019 at the Pera Museum. The Conference Closing Meeting at Koç University Hospital has also celebrated the Inauguration of NDAL at Koç University.
The 6th Suna Kıraç Conference On Neurodegeneration Istanbul will take place at the Pera Museum in October 2023.
Meetings, Publications, Theses
With the experience gained from the Suna Kıraç Conferences, and Suna Kıraç Workshops on Model Systems of Neurodegenerative Disease, held in collaboration with Brown University, NDAL also hosted COST Neural Regeneration and Plasticity European Cooperation in Science and Technology Yearly Assembly, the inaugural meetings of the Turkish-German University, and welcomed Nobel laureate Prof. James Watson. Aside from the coordination of international conferences, the most important criteria of success in science are graduate student theses and publications. The international publications of NDAL have been exponentially increasing in recent years. These results were presented at countless scientific in Turkey and abroad.
Today, NDAL offers a priceless database for neuroscientific research with a DNA bank of over 7500 samples including an ample number of large consanguineous kindreds. This rich pool of samples holds great potential for research. The invaluable support of Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation coupled with the exceptional student profile, competency of specialist physicians, and top-tier international collaborations, has shaped NDAL into a center of excellence at Koç University’s KUTTAM. We strongly believe that KU Translational Research Center will boost the lab to further expand in its efforts to play a major role in the understanding and elucidation of the mechanisms leading to neurodegenerative processes, ultimately paving the way to clinical trial readiness.
With the cutting-edge research it conducts on neurodegenerative diseases, KUTTAM-NDAL has become a pioneer in neurosciences in Turkey. The Center is recognized on international level as a reliable research institution in the field of neurodegeneration, motor neuron diseases, and movement disorders. NDAL has filled an important gap in Turkey, with the state-of-the-art training of graduate students, with original research published in high-impact scientific journals, and with the sophisticated and reliable molecular diagnosis service provided in complex neurological diseases.