Hotamışlıgil, Gökhan S. (b. June 24, 1962, Rize), physician and scientist who received the Vehbi Koç Award for health in 2013. Dr. Hotamışlıgil researches the genetic mechanisms of widespread and complex conditions such as diabetes, obesity and atherosclerosis and new methods of treatment.
After graduating from Ankara University School of Medicine in 1986, Hotamışlıgil completed a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard University in 1994. He became a professor in 2003 and is currently James S. Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH), and head of the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases. He is also engaged in studies at the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute, Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Joslin Diabetes Center. He has written hundreds of papers, which have been referenced more than 40,000 times, resulted in over 10 patents and formed the basis of a large number of drug development programs. The studies carried out at the Hotamışlıgil Laboratory at HSPH focus on using simple chemical process to treat and prevent Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, which affect nearly 350 million people across the world and are currently incurable. As part of these studies, Hotamışlıgil and his team discovered a hormone, known as lipokine, which is capable of stopping illnesses such as diabetes and hepatic lipidosis. In 2014, the Sabri Ülker Center for Nutrient, Genetic and Metabolic Research was founded at HSPH, under the management of Dr. Hotamışlıgil, with a 24 million-dollar donation from Yıldız Holding. In 2017, studies carried out at the center, which aims to support the work of the Hotamışlıgil Laboratory, led to the discovery of the Nrf1 molecule, known as the “metabolic protector”, which ensures that cholesterol levels inside a cell remain within safe levels.
Hotamışlıgil was made a principal member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences in 2004, and in 2007 he received the American Diabetes Association’s Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement. In 2013, he received the Vehbi Koç Award for “pioneering work in health and science”. Explaining why he had been chosen, the selection board described Gökhan Hotamışlıgil as “a Turkish scientist serving all of humanity as a global actor in the universal field of science,” who had “made many of his scientific discoveries with other Turkish scientists he had invited from Turkey to his laboratory” and was “one of our successful people, leading Turkish society in health and science”. In his speech at the award ceremony, Professor Hotamışlıgil stressed that intellectual and scientific transformation was of vital importance for Turkey, saying, “Science, art and education are the main focus of this prize and also at the heart of the Vehbi Koç Foundation’s mission; they are also the most important building blocks for the movement for intellectual transformation that we seek. For me, it is a great privilege, joy and source of pride to be a part of this and for our work to be lauded in my own country in this way.”
Hotamışlıgil has received science awards from a number of institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, the International Association for the Study of Obesity, Columbia University, and TÜBİTAK. He has served as editor of a large number of international medical and research journals and been a member and consultant of various academic and research bodies. He also received the Harvard School of Public Health Mentoring Award for his success as a member of the teaching staff. In 1028, he was awarded the Diabetes Prize for Excellence by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and Novo Nordisk Foundation.