Ph.D. and M.A.

Brown University  |  Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, RI  |  2009 – 2016

Ph.D. Thesis Title: A New Model of ALS: Precise Genetic Engineering, Characterization and Genetic Suppression.

Advisor: Robert Reenan, Ph.D.



Bogazici University   |   Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics Istanbul, Turkey   |   2004-2009

B.Sc. Thesis Title: Alsin Expression Effects on Cell Culture Models of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Advisor: A. Nazli Basak, Ph.D.


Study Abroad

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC    |    Biology Department    |    2008 Spring Semester

Senior Thesis Title: Kinetics of Nucleotide Excision Repair on Diflorotoulene.

Advisor: Aziz Sancar, M.D., Ph.D. - Nobel Laureate for Chemistry in 2015.


Postdoctoral Researcher 

MassGeneral Institute of Neurodegenerative Disease at Harvard Medical School | Charlestown, MA | 2016 - current


-  Research focusing on neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation in ALS, FTD and AD mouse models as well as postmortem brain and spinal cord at the laboratory of Mark W. Albers, M.D., Ph.D.

Tested delivery and efficacy of various drugs for a drug re-purposing project.

- Generated and analyzed large data sets involving next-generation sequencing technologies and multiplex imaging techniques (cycIF) from human postmortem tissue and mouse neurons.

Managed multiple internal and external collaborations involving postmortem AD/FTD/ALS brains, C9ORF72 and SOD1 mouse models of ALS and ALS patient-derived iPS cells.


 Disseminated research findings through a publication and two poster presentations in nationwide meetings 

 Awarded Harvard Brain Initiative travel grant. 
 -  Mentored three medical and undergraduate students; and supervised two technicians.

 Completed Harvard Catalyst Introduction to Translational Medicine Certificate Program and Healthcare Innovation and Commercialization (HIC) Program. 

 Interacted with KOLs by attending monthly translational meetings at the MGH ALS clinic, and weekly ALS group meetings at the MIND campus; and shadowed Sabrina Paganoni, MD at the MGH ALS clinic. 



Ph.D. Candidate

Brown University  |  Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, RI  |  2009 – 2016


 - Generated a new ALS disease model with knock-in SOD1 mutations that served as the foundation for a successfully funded ALSA Grant, Target ALS Grant, an industry collaboration (Biogen) and a fund from Brown University Biomedical Innovations.

 -  Performed RNA sequencing and identified various innate immunity and metabolism markers contributing to neurodegeneration.

 -  Designed and executed a novel mutagenic screen and identified a candidate gene for therapy, which is being developed by Brown University’s Technology Transfer Office.

      Awards and Achievements: 

 -  Awarded Suna-Inan Kirac Pre-doctoral Research Fellowship (3 yrs/80k).

 -  Four publications (one first authorship, one submitted, three published) and two pending patents.

 Disseminated research findings through 6 scientific talks and poster presentations in four different countries.
 -  Five completed undergraduate theses and two peer-reviewed authorships by undergraduates under my supervision.

 Completed Sheridan Teaching Certificates, assisted Genetics course, and lead a team of eight undergraduate students (Disease Hunters Team) for the Howard Hughes Medical Institution (HHMI) Summer Research Program every summer for four years (2011-2014).


My contribution: Generated knock-in Drosophila lines and performed mutagenic suppressor screen.

Sahin A, Savva YA, Reenan RA. Compositions and methods using lipids for treating neurological disease. Provisional Application No.: 62/909,912. Electronic deposit dates November 21, 2017.

Sahin A, Savva YA, Reenan RA. Compositions and methods for suppressing neurological disease. Provisional Application No.: 62/590,902. Electronic deposit dates November 21, 2017.


View My Publications on Google ScholarPubmed or ResearchGate

Rodriguez S, Schrank BR, Sahin A , Al-Lawati H, Constantino I, Benz E, Fard D, Albers AD, Cao L, Gomez AC, Ratti E, Cudkowicz M, Frosch MP, Talkowski M, Sorger P, Hyman BT, Albers MW. 2018. Genome-encoded Cytoplasmic Double-Stranded RNAs, Found in C9ORF72 ALS-FTD Brain, Provoke Propagated Neuronal Death. Submitted, available at BioRxiv 248328; doi: My Contribution: Performed IHC on ALS patient postmortem samples and cytoplasmic dsRNA isolation via IP. 

Held A, Major P, Sahin A, Reenan RA, Lipscombe D, Wharton KA. 2018. Motor circuit dysfunction preceding motor neuron degeneration in a dSod1-ALS model can be alleviated by BMP signaling. Submitted. This is a follow up manuscript for my Genetics publication. My contribution: generated the SOD1 knock in fly lines and performed preliminary neuromuscular junction analyses. 

Sahin A, Held A, Major P, Bredvick K, Achilli TM, Kerson AG, Wharton K, Stilwell G, Reenan RA. 2017. Human SOD1 ALS mutations in a Drosophila knock-in model cause severe phenotypes and reveal dosage-sensitive gain and loss of function components. Genetics. 205(2):707-723. This is the main chapter of my PhD Thesis. My contribution to this manuscript: generated four fly lines, performed all molecular and behavioral experiments, wrote the manuscript and constructed the figures. 

Savva YA, Jepson JE, Sahin A, Sugden AU, Dorsky JS, Alpert L, Lawrence C, Reenan RA. 2012. Auto-regulatory RNA editing fine-tunes mRNA re-coding and complex behaviour in Drosophila. 3:790. My contribution: checked the alteration of RNA editing along with Savva YA, made the initial observation for altered climbing behavior in mutant Drosophila lines, and performed behavioral analyses along with Jepson JE.

Jepson JE, Savva YA, Yokose C, Sugden AU, Sahin A, Reenan RA. 2011. Engineered alterations in RNA editing modulate complex behavior in Drosophila: regulatory diversity of adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) targets. 10:8325-37. My contribution: performed behavioral analyses along with Jepson JE.


   As a Post-doctoral Fellow (2017-Current): 

Novel neuronal trigger for neuroinflammation and propagated neurodegeneration in ALS.  Poster presentation at Keystone Symposia in Keystone, Colorado, 2018

- Origins of cytoplasmic dsRNA and neuroinflammation in mouse models of propagated neurodegeneration and in ALS postmortem brains. Poster presentation at Keystone Symposia in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2018

- Genetic Screens. Invited guest lecture at Bryant University, 2017.  



   As a PhD Candidate (2012-2014): 

Awarded various travel grants (by Brown University MCB program, Biomed and International Office) to deliver scientific talks and poster presentations entitled “Genetically accurate ALS models with SOD1 mutations in Drosophila melanogaster.” in the following places:

Oral presentation at German-Turkish Workshop on Molecular Neurosciences in Istanbul as an invited speaker, 2012.

Oral presentation at Brown University annual MCB retreat as selected student speaker, 2013.

Oral presentation at KATU Biology Student Association in Trabzon, Turkey as an invited speaker, 2014.

Poster presentation at EMBO conference in Nice, France, 2012.

Poster presentation at Neurofly conference in Padua, Italy, 2012.


   As a Post-doctoral Fellow (2017-Current): 

Guest Lecturer at Bryant University, 2017. 

    -Delivered a lecture on genetic screens as a part of the Genetics course taught by Dr. Leila Rieder. 


   As a PhD Candidate (2010-2012): 

Recipient of three Sheridan Center Teaching Certificate Programs I, II and III, 2010-2012 (Each one is a year-long certificate program)

    -Applied fundamental teaching and assessment strategies and communication skills based on how students learn.

    -Learned integrated course design principles.

    -Developed a course syllabus, assignments, and activities;

    -Established a teaching philosophy and created a teaching portfolio.

Completed Teaching in American Classroom Course, 2009 (A year-long course)

    -This class is ultimately designed for teaching foreign graduate students to ease them with American education system.

    -Delivered mini lectures while being recorded and received constructive feedback.
Teaching Assistant, Genetics Laboratory, Spring Semester 2010

    -Ran weekly Genetics Laboratory session for Genetics students.

    -Assisted in the design and implementation of experiments and course curriculum.

    -Graded all lab reports and assignments.

Lecturer for the Orientation Class and Teaching Assistant for Disease Hunters for Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Summer Research Program, 10-weeks-long program, Five Summer Semesters 2010-2014

    -Taught the basic laboratory and bioinformatics skills to 32 undergraduates in the first week of the program. 

    -Lead the Disease Hunters group (8-10 of these HHMI students ) for 9 weeks following the orientation week.

    -Mentored Disease Hunters to perform experiments, to deliver elevator pitches and poster presentations.


- Associate at Harvard Graduate Volunteer Consulting Group Spring Engagement, 2018

    - Provided probono-consulting services to a life sciences startup with series B funding.

    - Recommended strategies for market expansion based on secondary research we performed as a team of 6 associates.

    - Selected as one of the three leaders for the fall 2018 engagement. 

- Harvard Catalyst Introduction to Translational Medicine Certificate Program, 2017

    - Completed one-week-long certificate program on discovery science from preclinical testing to first-in-human trials, FDA approval and clinical design trial.

    - Gained skills in the process of bringing an idea from the laboratory to first-in-human trials by case studies. 

Healthcare Innovation and Commercialization (HIC) Program, 2017

   - Completed 10-week-long certificate program with lectures as well and hands-on business planning for Harvard OTD-based technology.       - Pitched a real-life technology commercialization plan to investors as a team (Received honorable mention). 

   - Mentored by VCs and life sciences consultants to design a commercialization plan involving preclinical testing, first-in-human trials, IND application, FDA approval and clinical design trial.


- Project Leader at Harvard Graduate Volunteer Consulting Group Spring Engagement, 2018

    - Recruited clients and drafted an individualized engagement plan for the client.

    - Managed interaction with the client throughout the engagement.

    - Led a team of 6 associates for immuno-oncology indication prioritization project for an mRNA vaccine start-up.

Chair: Postdoctoral Association Entrepreneurship Committee, 2018- current 

    - Organized events to introduce postdocs to Boston area life sciences start-ups and venture capital firms. 

    - Fostered inter- and intra-institutional collaborations to harness the expertise and intellect of scientists and clinicians.

Disease Hunters Team Leader at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Summer Research Program, 2010-2014.

    - Lead the team of 8-10 HHMI summer students during 10-week-long program for 5 years. 

    - Mentored Disease Hunters team to perform experiments, to deliver elevator pitches and poster presentations.

Scientific blog writer ( in Turkish), 2009-current.

    - Blog targeting Turkish ALS patients and for STEM students aiming to study molecular biology.

    - Podcast and radio program guest on Turkish science podcast Bilim Kazani.

    - A blog post on ALS is published in the online newspaper T24

    - Invited speaker at Turkish Biology Student Association in Trabzon, Turkey.

Habitat for humanity volunteer, 2014-2015. 

    - Volunteered for habitat for humanity project with Brown University Graduate Woman in Science (GWISE) group.


-Molecular biology: Recombinant DNA and genome editing techniques (homologous recombination and CRISPR/Cas9), native and denaturing protein gels, ELISA, SOD activity gel, cloning, PCR, mutagenic PCR, RT-qPCR, RNA isolation, Sanger sequencing, next generation RNA sequencing.

-Cellular biology: Maintenance of neuron and muscle cell cultures, IF of primary neurons and patient-derived iPSCs.

-Behavioral biology: Various standard behavioral tests such as FST, life span, circadian rhythm and survival assays.

-Histology and Microscopy: IHC, IF, multiplex- single-cell-resolution-cyclic Immunofluorescence (cycIF), vibratome and microtome sectioning.  Light, fluorescent and confocal microscopy.

-Surgery: Various surgeries and dissections in mice and other organisms including Alzet pump implant surgeries.

-Computational Skills: RNA Seq Data Analysis, Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, Keynote, Fiji/ImageJ, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.