Professor doctor Ugur Sahin was born in İskenderun, Turkey.
Sahin completed his medical studies in 1990 at the University of Cologne. He then started working as a physician for internal medicine and hematology/oncology at the University of Cologne. In 1993 Sahin received his PhD degree at the same university for his work on immunotherapy in tumor cells. Since 2000, he has been the head of an independent oncological research group at the Mainz University Hospital. Sahin Co-Founded GANYMED Pharmaceuticals AG and served as its Chief Medical Officer and as a Member of Scientific Advisory Board. He co-developed the SEREX and MicroGATE™ technologies used in GANYMED’s target identification discovery engine. Following a period in which he served as Head of the Tumor Vaccine Center, Sahin was appointed associate professor in the Division of Experimental and Translational Oncology at the Univeristy of Mainz. Sahin is an entrepreneurial researcher and inventor who has made essential contributions to more than 60 independent patents in various life science and biotechnology fields, including pioneering innovations that provide the basis for the foundation of BioNTech AG which Sahin co-founded in 2009. In 2010 Sahin founded the translational research institute TRON and still serves as the founding director. For projects of TRON as part of the CI3-Regional Cluster for Individualized Immune Intervention, Sahin received the BMBF Spitzencluster Award.
Sahins key focus is translating scientific ideas into innovations that help individual patients, an interest that was originally prompted by his experiences as a trained physician. He works on the identification and characterization of new target molecules (antigens) for immunotherapy in cancer tumors. The aim is the development of a cancer vaccine based on ribonucleic acid (RNA), a messenger with genetic information, which is responsible for the immune system’s reaction and thus the inhibition and regression of tumors. In this case, these RNA vaccines do not cause a permanent genetic change in the genome of the cells, but are simply resolved to form protein after “single use”. One problem is to develop a genetic engineering procedure to enable these vaccines to elicit a direct and targeted response from the immune system after injection. During the development of such optimized RNA chains, Sahin has achieved remarkable success with his research team in recent years.
For his work Sahin has received numerous prestigious awards in several countries. In 1995 he received both the Merit Award of the American Society of Oncology and the Vincenz Czerny Prize of the German Association of Hemato-Oncology for identifying a novel antigen on lymphoma cells. These awards were followed by several more among which the Calogero-Paglierello-Research-Award in 1997, the Georges Köhler-Prize of the German Association for Immunology in 2005 and the GoBio Award of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (which Sahin received in both 2006 and 2010). Sahins most recently received awards are the STEP award in 2011 and the aforementioned BMBF Spitzencluster Award for TRON projects.