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Dr. Akcay received her PhD in Chemistry at Tufts University where she developed convergent synthesis approaches for stereospecific preparation of fluorinated glycans, enabling studies towards understanding the role of glycocalyx fluorination in selectin mediated cell-cell adhesion. Her first postdoctoral training at Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on harnessing a two-component delivery system composed of non-toxic variants of proteins secreted by Bacilus anthracis. She combined synthetic chemistry, protein expression and enzyme-mediated bioconjugation to successfully transport cytotoxic drugs to the cytosol of specific cell types via anthrax delivery platform. Dr. Akcay pursued a second postdoctoral appointment at AstraZeneca R&D Waltham USA, where she worked on expanding the repertoire of amino acid side chains that can be targeted by covalent inhibitors. She demonstrated that a boronic acid carbonyl warhead can be rationally designed into small molecules to generate ligands capable of forming a reversible covalent bond with a desired lysine side chain. This work ultimately led to discovery of first covalent Mcl-1 inhibitors and highlighted as a seminal report in the field of covalent drug discovery.
In her current role as site leader for Chemical Biology at BAYER, Dr. Akcay and her team is responsible for supporting early research and development through technology platforms focusing on Phenotypic Screens, Target Deconvolution, Chemoproteomics and new Modalities for Drug Discovery.