Elif Nur Fırat Karalar, Ph.D.

Starting with my undergraduate education at Bilkent University, I have been involved in biomedical research. I completed my PhD in the laboratory of Matthew Welch at UC Berkeley, where I focused on the characterization of actin polymerization pathways in cells. During my postdoctoral studies in the laboratory of Tim Stearns at Stanford University, I took a multidisciplinary approach to identify the centriole proteome and address the interactions among centrosome proteins. Since June 2014, I have joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Koç University where my laboratory focuses on the biology of centrosomes, cilia and microtubules.

Lab Members

Jovana Deretic, Postdoctoral MSCA fellow

I graduated in Molecular Biology and Physiology from The University of Belgrade and completed my PhD studies at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at the University of Edinburgh. My postgraduate research in the laboratory of Dr Julie Welburn incorporated both cell biology and biochemical methods and focused on the regulation of microtube-associated proteins and microtubule organization in mitosis. During a short post as the CALM Facility manager in Edinburgh, I have acquired additional expertise in the advanced microscopy techniques. I continued to pursue my interest in the organization and regulation of microtubule cytoskeleton, particularly in centrosomes and cilia by joining Fırat-Karalar laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher in April 2019. Here, I am working on the exciting project, which combines advanced microscopy, biochemistry and proximity labelling methods to understand the role of specific centriolar satellite proteins in primary and motile cilia formation and function

Ezgi Odabaşı, Postdoctoral Researcher

I was graduated from department of molecular biology and genetics at Bilkent University in 2015. Then, I joined to Firat-Karalar group as Ph.D. student. After graduation, I have been working as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab.Vesikalık2022 2 I am interested in cellular role of centriolar satellites and regulation of satellites on centrosome/cilium complex.

Melis Dilara Arslanhan, PhD Candidate and Instructor at the MBGE department

I have completed my Bachelor’s degree in İzmir Institute of Technology. Then, I started my master’s in Université de Paris-Sud in France in the field of oncology. I worked in several institutions in France such as ENS Cachan and CEA as researcher. In 2017, I have started my PhD in Koç Univesity in Cytoskeleton lab. Currently, I am working on several project in the ab including proteomics analysis of centrosome and ciliary proteins which are associated with several diseases in human body. Besides that I am working on characterization of noval centirolar proteins. Outside of my reseach life, I am interested in bodybuilding and crossfit. I am also a big fan of basketball.


Dila Gülensoy, Master Student

I am a master student in the University of Koç in the Molecular Biology and Genetics department. I am currently working in Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory by assisting help in several projects. When I started working here I immediately fascinated by the centrosome research and the possibilities of the subject that offers. As a future goal I want to keep continue taking part in the cytoskeleton based research.

Başak Turan, PhD Student

Erdem Ercan, PhD Student

Efe Begar, PhD Student

I have completed my bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and genetics, and double major in chemical and biological engineering at Koc University. Afterwards, I completed my master’s degree in Ui-Tei Genome Information Biology laboratory at the University of Tokyo, Japan, studying RNA silencing regulation of GW182 family proteins. Since September 2020, I have been studying as a Ph.D. student in Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory at Koc University. My current research interest is on characterization of centriolar satellites, microtubule-associated proteins and their regulation in ciliogenesis.

Seyma Cengiz, PhD Student

I graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a bachelor’s degree from Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2021. I had interdisciplinary experience in different research labs and develop a comprehensive point of view. Now, I would like to be a good researcher in the cellular biology field. I have joined Fırat-Karalar Research Group at Koç University as a graduate researcher. I am currently interested in role of satellite proteins in regulation of centrosome/cilium complex and mitotic events.

Hande Nur Sahin, PhD Student

I graduated from Molecular Biology and Genetics department at Abdullah Gül University. During my bachelor degree, I had several internships at VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology related to mTORC pathway, 2.5D human breast culture and immunoflourescence microscopy. In my capstone project, I was working on FLT3 expression in leukemia cells and its drug response. After graduation, I have started to work in Cytoskeleton research lab. Currently my research interest includes a project about a centrosome fusion protein and investigating its phenotypic consequences. In addition, I am also working on another project related to a microtubule associated protein and its effects during mitosis

Irem Sultan Dilbaz, PhD Student

I graduated from the Molecular Biology and Genetics department of Abdullah Gül University. I have studied in different research areas of biology during my bachelor’s degree. I started to work on cancer in my first years and did my Erasmus internship on the Hippo signaling pathway in cancer. Then, I studied multiple sclerosis, as one of the autoimmune diseases, for my capstone project. Currently, I am continuing my research journey with Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory as a Ph.D. student. Here, I am trying to experience primary cell cultures, obtained from mouse tissues, and immunofluorescence techniques. Currently, my project tries to resolve mysteries in motile cilia biogenesis and functions.

Ece Seyrek, PhD Student

During my studies at Bilkent University I worked as an undergraduate researcher in various subjects such as transcriptomics, acute liver and colon inflammation and plant biology. After my graduation,  I decided that I was enthusiastic about cell biology, especially on post translational modifications and biochemistry. So, I took a different path to work with Dr. Elif Nur Fırat Karalar about the mammalian centrosome/cilium complex. Now I am working on the PTMs of the centriolar satelites and try to dissect their biochemical properties. I have never been happier about taking a different path and find a topic that excites me!

Ilgin Kisioglu, Undergraduate Researcher

I am a junior undergraduate student in Koç University, and I am doing a double major with Molecular Biology and Genetics and Chemistry. I joined the Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory in my sophomore year as a TUBITAK STAR intern and now I continue to work as an undergraduate researcher. Here, I have learned so many exiting information related to cytoskeleton research, and I am thrilled to be expending my knowledge in this area as well as to be a part of the research. I am currently working on the characterization of a microtubule associated protein and identification of its roles in cilium.Tunahan Uygun, Undergraduate Researcher

I am currently a junior molecular biology and genetics student at Koç University and having a double major in Chemistry. During past three years, I have worked in different laboratories and realized that I love cell biology more than other fields. So, I joined Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory as an undergraduate student. Here, my project aims to uncover noncanonical function of centriolar satellite proteins during muscle cell differentiation.

Edin Hepgulum, Undergraduate Researcher

I am a senior undergraduate student in Koç University, Molecular Biology and Genetics department with a double major in Business Administration.  During my bachelor years, I have gained experience in several research labs with different focuses in cellular and molecular biology topics. I am primarily interested in energy metabolism and how it is affected by nutrient intake. Since primary cilia plays a role in metabolic regulation and is involved in sensing metabolic signals, I was motivated to work in Ass. Prof. Elif Nur Fırat-Karalar’s Cytoskeleton Research Laboratory. I have been working as an undergraduate researcher in this lab since October 2021, and my research focuses on identifying the functions, interaction partners, and localization of different fragments of the PCM1 protein, which is the main scaffolding protein for centriolar satellites. Hopefully, in the future, I would like to assess the role of PCM1 in metabolic regulation.


Umut Batman, Ms.C. (2018-2021)

PhD student in University of Geneva (Centriole Architecture Laboratory – Paul Guichard&Virginie Hamel)

Fatmanur Tiryaki, Ms.C. (2018-2021)

PhD student in University of Mainz (Dorothee Dormann’s laboratory)

Ebru Topcu, Ms.C. (2018-2021)

PhD student, University of Zurich (Steffen Boettcher’s laboratory)

Deniz Conkar, PhD Student (2014-2020)

Postdoctoral Scholar, Max Planck Institute in Dresden

Özge Zelal Aydın, Postdoctoral Scholar (2017-2021)

Assitant Professor at Baskent University

Şevket Onur Taflan, Master Student (2017-2020)

Vitrosens Chief Technology Officer

Kubra Hazal Zirhlioglu, Ms.C. (2017-2020) 

Ph.D. student in Ingrid Hoffman’s laboratory in German Cancer Research Center 

Can Gurkaslar, Technician (2018-2019)

Ph.D. student in Almodovar lab in University of Heidelberg

Efraim Culfa, Msc (2015-2017)

After graduating from our lab, Efraim moved onto becoming a secondary school teacher. He is currently at Üsküdar American Academy, teaching biology and introductory sciences. Efraim is interested in integrating coding in K12 biology classrooms and laboratories

Ahmet Aktas, Undergraduate Researcher (2018)


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