Welcome Addresses

Dear Distinguished Guests.

We are proud to welcome all of you to the 5th Suna Kıraç Conference on Neurodegeneration.  Like its predecessors, this conference will take a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and treating degenerative diseases of the central nervous system.

Since 2005, the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation Neurodegeneration Research Laboratory (NDAL) has been part of the international effort to better understand and treat neurodegenerative disease.  We are honored to work with acclaimed academics around the world, including our close partnerships with University of Massachusetts, Harvard University and Brown University.

In July 2018, NDAL moved to its new home at the Koç University Hospital in Topkapı, İstanbul. NDAL is now part of an elite research hospital and KUTTAM, Koç University’s Translational Medicine Research Center, strengthening its ability to collaborate, innovate, discover and contribute to the field. Operating within a hospital setting allows NDAL to access more patients and explore interdisciplinary research projects in new, highly effective ways.  Among its efforts, NDAL is an active member of Project MinE; has recently become part of the NGS ataxia consortium, based on the EU consortium PREPARE; and represents Turkey in the Rostock International Parkinson’s Disease Study (ROPAD). 

Since its inception, the Suna Kıraç Conference on Neurodegeneration has evolved into an internationally acclaimed meeting point for the global scientific community.  The conference offers a valuable opportunity for prominent scientists to exchange and develop ideas, setting the stage for new collaborations and research projects.

This year’s conference, entitled ‘Selective Cellular Vulnerabilities in ALS and Relevant Therapeutic Modification of Gene Expression’, will explore death and dysfunction in neurons; molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration and regeneration; type-specific subcellular specificity; selective vulnerability; and disease-modifying therapies, including designer DNA drug therapy in neurodegenerative diseases and gene suppression pilot studies in ALS. 

On behalf of the millions of patients who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, and their families, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this year’s conference, in particular to Prof. Nazlı Başak, Prof. Robert Brown and Prof. Jeffrey Macklis.  We wish you a productive and inspiring conference, as well as a pleasant stay in İstanbul.  More importantly, we hope that this conference contributes to your efforts in the area of neurodegenerative disease and that you discover new ideas, questions and information that build and strengthen your work.

Suna, İnan & İpek Kıraç

Dear Colleagues and Friends, Distinguished Guests,

On behalf of the Organizing Committee it is with the greatest pride, pleasure and excitement that we are welcoming you to the 5th Suna Kıraç Conference on Neurodegeneration Istanbul, traditionally held and hosted at the beautiful Pera Museum of the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation in the heart of old Istanbul. This Conference is the fifth of a series of symposia jointly organized by the Suna and İnan Kiıraç Foundation and its Neurodegeneration Research laboratory NDAL, in collaboration with Professors Robert Brown and Jeffrey Macklis, who have been the co-chairs of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee for over a decade. 

As the title ‘Selective Cellular Vulnerabilities in ALS and Relevant Therapeutic Modification of Gene Expression’ implies, the Conference will interweave themes related to degeneration and regeneration of neurons and new therapeutic approaches to modifying gene expression in the nervous system. We plan four sessions on two days with lots of “think-tank”-style moderated discussion on Death and Dysfunction in Neurons, Selective Cellular Vulnerability and Therapeutic Modification of Gene Expression, including gene replacement therapies, designer DNA drugs for human neurodegenerative disease, ALS gene suppression studies and IPS cell research. The meetings are typically highly interactive and have large national attendance from across Turkey, and with the invited speakers staying the entirety of the Symposium, there is ample opportunity to connect to the speakers who are world leaders.

This year’s Conference marks a special turning point for NDAL which has moved in 2018 from its founding location at Boğaziçi University to Koc University’s School of Medicine, Translational Medicine Research Center KUTTAM. We feel unusually fortunate and extremely privileged to share and celebrate this event with you by tying the Conference to the inauguration of our new laboratory, during which you will have the opportunity to spend an evening at KUTTAM and NDAL, a cutting-edge research environment at the brandnew Koc Hospital.

A few words about Istanbul: The city is an extraordinary site for a meeting. Spanning the Bosphorus and two continents, Europe and Asia, it represents an intriguing intermingling of multiple cultures. The former capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, it has a rich history and remarkable architecture that, set against the Bosphorus waterway, is unique. Istanbul in the fall is especially beautiful, and the food is superb year-round.

It is a profound honor to co-chair this landmark event which promises to offer so very much through its visionary, state-of-the-art lectures delivered by the pioneers in the field as well as its priceless opportunity for us all to meet and to connect. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Suna and İnan Kıraç Foundation under whose auspices these meetings take place, not only for their extraordinary generous hospitality, but also for supporting NDAL’s growth and development over the years. Our very special thanks go also to Pera Museum and its wonderful team led by Mr. Özalp Birol, whose enthusiasm, experience, assistance and sincere friendship make the organization of these Symposia a delight. 

Last but not least, we thank you, distinguished speakers and dear guests, for joining us at the 5th Suna Kıraç Conference, wish you a pleasant stay in Istanbul and promise a productive and successful Conference. We feel honored to host you, welcome to Istanbul!

A. Nazlı Başak      Robert H. Brown Jr      Jeffrey D. Macklis