Principal Investigator

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. I am interested in cellular role of centriolar satellites and regulation of satellites on centrosome/cilium complex.

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.

Şeyma Cengiz, PhD Student

I graduated from Istanbul Technical University with a bachelor’s degree of 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, Master 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.

Altar Özbıyık, PhD. Student

Şevval Altay, Guest Researcher

Ilgın Sezer, Undergraduate Student

Ekin Su Erdem, Master Student

Selin Yılmaz, Master Student

I have completed my bachelor’s degree at Istanbul Technical University, Molecular Biology and Genetics Department. I experienced different research topics during my undergraduate studies such as computational biology and cancer but I was always interested in the cytoskeleton, so I started working in the Cytoskeleton Research Lab in 2022. Currently, I am utilizing the chemically inducible satellite trafficking assay to study the specific and temporal functions of centriolar satellites with microscopy and proximity labeling methods.


Melis Dilara Arslanhan, PhD.

Dila Gülensoy, Ms.C.

PhD Student in University of Ulm (Gilbert Weidinger’s Lab)

Tunahan Uygun, Undergraduate Researcher

Visiting Student in University of Michigan (Lois Weisman’s Laboratory)

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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