Dr. Billur Akkaya received her MD degree at Hacettepe University, Turkey in 2008 and D.Phil (PhD) degree at the University of Oxford, UK in 2013. Her graduate studies were funded by Felix Scholarship and Hugh Pilkington Scholarship given by the University of Oxford. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the NIH as a member of the Laboratory of Immune System Biology, NIAID and started her lab at The Ohio State University in 2021. Dr. Akkaya has studied T cell biology for more than a decade on a range of subjects including modulation of the PD-1 pathway in T cells, T cell metabolism and mechanisms of immune regulation by regulatory T cells (Tregs). Her research has been deemed worthy of recognition by prestigious awards such as NIH Fellows Award of Research Excellence, American Association of Immunology Thermofisher Trainee Achievement Award, International Cytokine and Interferon Society Sydney and Joan Pestka Award for Excellence in Cytokine and Interferon Research. She recently received NIAID New Innovators Award (DP2) to study the immunoinhibitory mechanisms used by antigen-specific Tregs in the contexts of autoimmunity and cancer.
Dr. Munir Akkaya received his MD degree from Hacettepe University, Turkey in 2007 and D.Phil (PhD) degree from the University of Oxford in 2012. During his undergraduate education, he was awarded with a Scholarship of Honor from Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and a Merit Scholarship from Hacettepe University. His doctorate education was funded by Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom. His D.Phil thesis, which he prepared under supervision of Dr. Neil Barclay, focused on the regulation of immune responses through interactions of the CD200R family of leukocyte surface molecules. He also explored how ligands of inhibitory receptors are acquired by various pathogens for immune evasion. For postdoctoral training, Dr. Akkaya joined the research group of Dr. Susan Pierce at NIAID, and undertook projects related to B cell biology and immunometabolism. His research at NIH characterized novel mechanisms through which TLR signaling can influence B cell survival and differentiation. Besides his work on B cell biology, he is interested in host-pathogen interactions in the context of Plasmodium infections in malaria. Dr. Akkaya is a recipient of Milstein Young Investigator Award from International Cytokine and Interferon Society, ThermoFisher Trainee Achievement award from American Association of Immunologists and Fellows Award for Research Excellence from NIH and Dr. Benvenuto Pernis Memorial Junior Trainee award from FASEB. He is currently working as an assistant professor at the Ohio State University.