New Research on Mammal Cells is Expected to Generate Treatment for Cancer & Developmental Disorders

SARIYER, Turkey - Dec. 1, 2022 - PRLog -- Membrane-less compartmentalization is known to be a powerful, yet mysterious process for the spatiotemporal control of fundamental cellular processes. Recent research from Koç University (Istanbul) is expected to uncover the process through investigating the fascinating biology of centriolar satellites (CS), a vertebrate-specific membrane-less organelle.

The European Research Council (ERC) granted 1.6 million euros to Assoc. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar (Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, School of Medicine) for her project. Named "SatelliteHomeostasis: Spatiotemporal Regulation of Centriolar Satellite Homeostasis", it aims to understand the evolutionary processes of the complex organization of mammalian cells, thus developing new diagnostic and treatment methods for developmental disorders such as the ones affecting the retina and the brain.

The results of the project are expected to have broad implications in unveiling how cells organize its cytoplasm in time and space appropriate to its differentiation status, environment, and organismal health. In the long-term, these results will provide new insight into the defects underlying developmental and metabolic diseases such as obesity, blindness, and infertility; mental disorders such as schizophrenia and cancer.

First Researcher in Life Sciences who Received a Second Starting Grant

Assoc. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar is the first researcher to receive this support twice in life sciences. In 2015, she received her first ERC Starting Grant with her project "Dissecting the Function and Regulation of Centriolar Satellites: Key Regulators of the Centrosome/Cilium Complex – CentSatRegFunc". Elif Nur Fırat Karalar mentions that this ERC grant was a gamechanger for her as it allowed her to start her laboratory from scratch in Turkey and implement her ambitious research vision.

ERC is known to acknowledge the career breaks of women due to maternity leave and extend their application for eligibility for 18 additional months for each child. This in part is the reason that made Assoc. Prof. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar eligible for a second starting grant. She says that the eligibility extensions for career breaks are essential for increasing diversity in academia and creating more inclusive environments in the face of the leaky pipeline problem. She hopes that her success in securing 2 ERC Starting Grants will set an example to other researchers in dreaming big, working hard, and persisting.
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