Enver Cagri Izgu obtained a B.Sc. degree in chemistry from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey, where he studied asymmetric organic catalysis with Professor Ozdemir Dogan. He then moved to the United States for graduate school and earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Professor Thomas R. Hoye. In the Hoye Lab, he conducted the total synthesis of structurally complex and biologically potent natural plant products, developed synthetic methodologies, and designed chemical tools for NMR spectroscopic investigations of chiral carbinols. Equipped with core synthetic chemistry skills and intrigued by the grand challenge of establishing the fundamental principles of cellular life, Enver turned his focus to chemical biology and undertook a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Professor Jack W. Szostak at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. There, he studied primitive cells (protocells) that display evolutionarily useful functions by harnessing the systems chemistry of small molecules, nucleic acids, peptides, and lipids. These studies provided insight into the template-directed synthesis of DNA, RNA, and RNA-like informational polymers. In addition, his work led to the discovery of a chemical route for spontaneous lipidation of amino acids and peptides in protocells. This potentially links the functionalization of primitive membranes with modern biology, where the lipidation of proteins plays a major role in membrane localization and signaling.
B.Sc., METU, 2002-2006 (Advisor: Ozdemir Dogan)
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2006-2012 (Advisor: Thomas R. Hoye)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, 2012-2017 (Advisor: Jack W. Szostak)
Honors and Awards
The NIH / NIBIB Trailblazer Award
Charles and Johanna Busch Biomedical Grant Award
American Cancer Society, Institutional Research Grant Early Investigator Award
Arthur Klorfein Scholarship, Marine Biological Laboratory
NASA Travel Award, Gordon Research Conference for Origins of Life, Galveston
Highest Distinction, Ranked #1 in Chemistry, METU, Turkey
Young Scientists Award (National Bachelors Scholarship Program), The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey
The Izgu Lab has an interdisciplinary research program with a major aim to advance biotechnology and medicine by combining synthetic organic chemistry, chemical biology, and materials chemistry. Current efforts are focused on developing effective diagnostics and treatments against infectious organisms and critical diseases that impact large human populations. Projects involve 1) identifying an important biological target or a potential biotechnology platform; 2) target-oriented design and chemical or enzymatic synthesis of functional small molecules, macromolecules, and materials; and 3) implementing these novel tools in biological systems and providing a feasible technology.
Group members have the opportunity to learn a wide array of lab techniques and carry out both fundamental and applied research in a collaborative environment.