Turkish professor to lead US-based cancer research center

Turkish professor to lead US-based cancer research center

Sefer Levent
Turkish professor to lead US-based cancer research center A Turkish professor has been appointed to lead a U.S.-based cancer research center which will work on early diagnosis techniques.

Turkish Prof. Dr. Sadık Esener is set to lead a new center founded in June 2015 under the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute. The center, which was designated to conduct research on early cancer detection, received a donation of $1 billion for its launch, with $500 million coming from the institute’s namesake, American philanthropist Phil Knight, who is famous for co-founding sports apparel brand Nike. 

The Knight Cancer Institute is the world’s leading center for studies on the development of personalized cancer treatment medicines. With more than 200 personnel, it conducts research on cancer biology, leukemia and boosting the immune system to prevent and stop cancer.

“Cancer is a multifaceted problem. I think it is more possible to solve it by using different technologies,” said Esener. According to Brian Druker, the institute’s director and inventor of cancer treatment medicine Gleevec, the biggest obstacle in the fight against cancer is early diagnosis. Druker said early diagnosis plays a huge role, as the existing methods of cancer treatment are not very successful. The center will employ 300 people who will concentrate on research and development studies for the early detection of cancer. Druker added that Esener’s wide knowledge and experience will be very beneficial for this project.

Born in Ankara in 1956, Esener received his BS degree in Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering from Istanbul Technical University in 1979 and his MS degree from Michigan University in 1981. He joined the University of California San Diego (UCSD) faculty in 1987, after receiving his PhD in Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering from UCSD the same year. 

Esener leads UCSD’s OptoElectronic Computing Group, and is the director of the DARPA-funded multi-university Center for Chips with Heterogeneously Integrated Photonics (CHIPS), the 3D-Opto-Electronic Stacked Processors industry/university consortium; and the Fast Readout Optical Storage (FROST) Industry consortium. He has authored more than 100 journal publications and 200 conference abstracts. Esener is a member of IEEE, OSA, and SPIE, and co-founded San Diego-based Nanogen, Optical Micro-Machines, Parallel Solutions, Genoptix, and Call/Recall Inc. He is an internationally known expert in photonics and opto-electronics and he has been closely involved with five startup companies based on technology developed in his laboratories - and holds 15 patents in these areas. Esener is currently a professor at the Nano Engineering, Electrical and Computer Department of UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering, the director of the Nano-Tumor Center and a member of the Sabancı University Board of Trustees.