During Oct 20-22, ITU Molecular Biology Club held its annual international scientific meeting, comprising six sessions and hosting 15 distinguished scientists from around the world, with 307 student attendees. Prof. Zhiguo Zhang (Columbia University, USA), Prof. Luca Magnani (Imperial College London, UK) and Prof.  Andrea Fuso (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy), explored epigenetic inheritance during DNA replication, cancer therapy resistance and epigenetic regulation of neurodegeneration respectively. Prof. Bjorn Schumacher (University of Cologne, Germany) presented his work on DNA damage and aging and while Prof. Alexis Gautreau (Institut Polytechnique de Paris, France) probed the role of actin cytoskeleton in cancer cell migration. Prof. Margaret Fahnestock (McMaster University, Canada) focused on neurotrophic factor signaling in Alzheimer’s as Prof. Robert Lucas (University of Manchester, UK) elucidated the molecular mechanisms of a lesser known photoreceptor, melanopsin, which may regulate circadian rhythm and thus have significant impact on humans exposed to artificial light. Prof. Corette Wierenga (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands) employed cutting edge imaging technology to investigate regulation of inhibitory synapses by endocannobinoids. Prof. Antonia Monteiro (National University of Singapore, Singapore) explored gene regulatory networks that may be reused by evolution for the development of new traits, such as eyespots of butterflies. Prof. Dr. Patrick Tschopp (University of Basel, Switzerland) also stressed GRNs as well as signaling pathways underlying cell fate decisions. Concluding the evolution session, Prof. Wenying Shou (University College London, UK) outlined her own evolution as a biologist/mathematician, with anecdotes of major turning points in her career. Prof. Jan Gorodkin (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) highlighted computational design of CRISPR/Cas9 gRNA, cautioning against off-target effects. In the Bioinformatics session, Prof. Dr. Dick de Ridder (Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands), Prof. Dr. Jan Komorowski (Uppsala University, Sweden) and ITU’s very own Dr. Ferhat Alkan (ITU, Telecommunications Engineering, BS ’2010, now at Netherlands Cancer Institute) expounded on tools for biological big data analysis. Finally, ITU MBG graduate student Alican Topaloğlu (ITU MBG, BS ’2015) gave a short talk on his work, titled “Evolutionary engineering and physiological analysis of antimycin A-resistant Saccharomyces cerevisiae” The meeting also hosted a genomics workshop sponsored by Aquatayf Biyoteknoloji (ARI4). 

We were happy to find out that two of our former graduates have collaborated with two of our presenters: Dr. Emre Sofyalı (ITU MBG, BS ’2011, MS ’2014) with Prof. Luca Magnani during his postdoctoral fellowship, and Dr. Altuğ Didikoğlu (ITU MBG, BS ’2015) with Prof. Robert Lucas.

The meeting commenced with an opening ceremony, including introductory remarks by Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Prof. Esra Alveroğlu Durucu, MBG Department Chair Prof. Zeynep Petek Çakar, Club Advisor Assoc. Prof. Aslı Kumbasar and MBG Club President Buket Güney, commemorating the centennial of the Turkish Republic and ITU’s 250th anniversary.