Sancar, Aziz (b. September 8, 1946, Savur, Mardin), physician and scientist, winner of the 2007
Vehbi Koç Award for health sciences. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul Modrich for their studies in DNA repair.
Describing his parents as, “illiterate, yet who always placed great importance on education, and had full confidence that their children had the capacity to excel as long as they were educated”, Prof. Sancar finished the Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in 1969, and went to the USA to carry out research in biochemistry in 1971. He completed his doctorate in molecular biology at the University of Texas in Dallas in 1977 and started working at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 1982. He currently serves as Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina.
Author of over three hundred scientific papers, Prof. Sancar’s work on DNA repair and regulation of the circadian clock has gained recognition worldwide. His study of the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair defined the “nucleotide excision repair” (NER) pathway used in the repair of all types of DNA damage. His work on the circadian clock demonstrated that mammals use a protein he named cryptochrome to regulate their daily cycles.
In 2007, he won the Vehbi Koç Award for “his extraordinary scientific qualities and outstanding contribution to human health”. Prof. Sancar has also won several other awards, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the American Society for Photobiology Research Award, and the TÜBİTAK Science Award.
He has been selected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004), and a member of the American Microbiology Academy (2005), US National Academy of Sciences (2005) and Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) (2006). In 2017, the Turkish Health Institutes Directorate created the Aziz Sancar Science, Service and Incentive Awards.