The Eczacıbaşı Medical Award of Honor to Prof. Şahin and Dr. Türeci
Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci was owner of the Eczacıbaşı Medical Award of Honor in the 62nd anniversary of the awarding and support tradition initiated by the Eczacıbaşı Group in 1959 in the field of medicine. Şahin and Türeci achieved a remarkable success in the history of medicine by developing an effective and reliable vaccine in less than a year against SARS-COV-2, which started in the last months of 2019 and spread rapidly all over the world, causing millions of people to get sick and hundreds of thousands to die. They were honored with the Medical Award of Honor.
The COVID-19 vaccine, which is the first product of a new technology, is the first example of the messenger RNA technology, which was discovered in the early 1960s and was the subject of vaccine projects in many fields, especially cancer, and made available on humans after being approved. Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci couple continues to work on developing vaccines in the areas of cancer and rare diseases as well as infections.
As a result of the evaluations of the Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards Scientific Evaluation Committee, the 2021 Medical Science Award was given to Prof. Dr. Mübeccel Akdiş, a scientist who has made many important discoveries in the field of immunology and has been working as the Head of Immune Regulation Department at the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research since 2003, Prof. Dr. Elif Çadırcı received the Scientific Research Support Award, Assoc. Dr. Özgür Kütük received the Scientific Research Support Award and Bengisu Karaköse won the Medical Students Project Award.
Deputy Minister of Health Şuayip Birinci, members of the Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards Scientific Evaluation Committee, award winners as well as Eczacıbaşı Group executives and press members attended the award ceremony held in Istanbul on Tuesday, September 7, 2021. Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci, who could not come to Istanbul due to the intensity of their scientific studies and received their awards and received their awards from Prof. Dr. Turgay Dalkara, Bülent Eczacıbaşı and Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards Chairman of the Scientific Evaluation Board in Germany recently, expressed their satisfaction with the award with the video message they sent.
Declaring that they reached 79th year of the Community and 62nd year of Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards in the conditions of the pandemic that has been impacting the world and our country for two years, Bülent Eczacıbaşı, Chairman of the Board, Eczacıbaşı Holding said at the ceremony, “During the epidemic, we were shaken by disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods, which were effective in various regions of the world as well as in our country, and all at once; once again explained the importance of our responsibilities towards nature and the environment, research and science. We have learned many lessons for our future. These national and global threats and concerns once again demonstrated the value of international cooperation and solidarity as well as nationwide.
How the virus turned into a global epidemic in a very short time; the struggle of humanity, nations and states against disasters also had to be global. The solution had no limits. The vaccine that two scientists presented to the whole world in a very short time by collaborating with an American company in Germany further strengthened our hope for the future. If the world, which has lost more than four million lives, was able to administer around five billion doses of vaccine within two years, this could only be achieved with their contributions.”
Emphasizing that the Republic, which caught the age in medical education with the contribution of visiting scientists in the 1933 university reform, while having only about 300 doctorates in 1923, prepared the solid and scientific foundations of today’s struggle, Bülent Eczacıbaşı said, “Our community, as a pioneer and important part of this history, took its place in the journey of modernity. “Devotion to social values”, which started with Süleyman Ferit Bey’s pharmacy in İzmir, in the absence of World War II, with the horizon of Nejat Eczacıbaşı in Istanbul, he formed the cornerstones of Turkey’s health, hygiene, cleanliness and quality life process. The activities of our Group have not only led to a healthier and higher quality life in our country; also made a great contribution to meeting the vital needs of the health system and society during the pandemic period.”
Stating that the hope of “normalization” in all areas of social life is now even stronger, Eczacıbaşı said, “Of course, we have to continue our lives without giving up the necessary measures, without forgetting that this work is not over, and that we are facing a very active and stubborn virus with its new variants. On this occasion, we heartily greet our healthcare workers and all members of our struggle in every field, and we respectfully commemorate all our losses.”
Pointing out that with the anxiety generated by the pandemic, we started to become aware of the global problems beyond our personal world, Prof. Dr. Turgay Dalkara, Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards Chairman of the Scientific Evaluation Board, said, “In such a critical period, we need science more than ever. We have no hesitation in taking science as a guide in solving these difficult problems. As a matter of fact, with the outbreak of the epidemic, scientists were able to identify the virus and develop vaccines with diagnosis-treatment methods at an unprecedented speed in history. Our healthcare professionals, on the other hand, took their place at the forefront of the fight against the epidemic, risking their own lives without hesitation from the very first day. On this occasion, I commemorate our valuable healthcare workers who lost their lives with respect and gratitude.”
Stating that despite all the difficulties, he has full faith that we will reach good days with science, Prof. Dalkara, said, “I respectfully commemorate the late Dr. Nejat Eczacıbaşı for his progressive vision that has encouraged many of our valuable scientists over the years. In addition, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the members of the Scientific Evaluation Board of the Medical Awards, who evaluated the applications with great care, to the professors and, especially Bülent Eczacıbaşı, and the Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation for their unconditional support for the science.”
62 years in the tradition of “contribution to science, award to success”
Under his leadership, the tradition of supporting scientific research and rewarding successful scientists was started in 1959, in order to contribute to the development of medicine and pharmacy sciences in our country, Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, the most valuable medical teachers of the period, Ord. Prof. Dr. Ekrem Şerif Egeli, Ord. Prof. Dr. Arif İsmet Çetingil, Ord. Prof. Dr. Muhiddin Erel, Prof. Dr. Resat Garan, Prof. Dr. Sabih Oktay, Prof. Dr. Behiç Onul, Prof. Dr. Zafer Paykoç and Prof. Dr. Necmeddin Polvan.
Under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Turgay Dalkara, 2019 Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards Scientific Evaluation Committee consists of Prof. Dr. Murat Akova, Prof. Dr. Şermin Genç, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Gül, Prof. Dr. Arzum Erdem Gürsan, Prof. Dr. Hakan S. Orer and Prof. Dr. Lale Tokgözoğlu.
Since 2002, Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards have been given to Turkish physicians who have achieved universal success in world medical circles. The first Eczacıbaşı Medical Awards of Honor was given to Prof. Dr. Münci Kalayoğlu, the second to Prof. Dr. Olcay Neyzi, the third to Prof. Dr. Masel Mesulam, the owner of the fourth award was Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin and Dr. Özlem Türeci.
Before 2002, the award was given under the name of “Republican Medicine Award” was presented to Ord. Prof. Dr. Hulusi Behçet, Dr. Refik Saydam, Ord. Prof. Dr. Tevfik Sağlam, Ord. Prof. Dr. Mazhar Osman Uzman and to Ord. Prof. Dr. Akil Muhtar Özden in 1982, to Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Aksoy in 1988 and to Prof. Dr. Gazi Yaşargil in 1992.