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News

Professor Kamil Uğurbil receives the 15th Vehbi Koç Award

Vehbi Koç Foundation founded 47 years ago as Turkey’s first private foundation gives out the annual Vehbi Koç Award for culture, education and healthcare, respectively; and this year’s winner was announced at the ceremony attended by members of the Koç family and guests. Among the three candidates nominated by the Selection Committee headed by Professor Turgay Dalkara, Vehbi Koç Foundation’s Board of Directors chose Professor Kamil Uğurbil as the winner of the 15th Vehbi Koç Award for his contributions to healthcare. Professor Uğurbil’s studies on the development of groundbreaking new technologies using magnetic resonance imaging to understand how the brain functions have made it possible to analyze the causes for several diseases such as Alzheimer’s and depression, and to generate solutions. These technologies developed through Professor Uğurbil’s research have become essential in diagnosis of diseases, planning their treatment, and monitoring responses to treatment. Professor Uğurbil accepted the 15th Vehbi Koç Award from Koç Holding Chairman Ömer M. Koç.

Koç Holding Chairman Ömer M. Koç opened his speech during the award ceremony at İş Sanat Cultural Center by remembering the late Mustafa V. Koç. Reminding that the award ceremony normally takes place on February 25, the anniversary of Vehbi Koç’s passing, Ömer M. Koç said, “This year we could only hold the award ceremony today due to our great loss. Earlier this year, on January 21 my brother, Koç Holding Chairman Mustafa V. Koç passed away untimely, leaving us with indescribable grief. Here before you today, I remember him with respect, affection and gratitude. I would like to emphasize once again that we will strive to carry on the values he has entrusted to us both in business and social endeavors to new heights.

Ömer M. Koç: “Vehbi Koç Foundation and we are one big family, adding value to each other’s lives.
Asking the question, “How can a foundation add value to people’s lives, and be a solution for the growth, prosperity and bright future of society?” Ömer M. Koç continued, “The answer to this question can be different for everyone. In my personal opinion, providing direct services, generating knowledge and being an example to other charities are among the primary strategies applied by foundations and civil society institutions in general while contributing to our lives. And Vehbi Koç Foundation has been making a difference in the lives of millions by granting scholarships for the last 47 years, opening educational institutions, and providing outstanding services in the fields of healthcare and culture. Our brilliant scholars, the students and educators in our educational institutions, the patients treated at our hospitals, the guests of our museums, and we are one big family adding value to each other’s lives; a family that keeps on growing every day with the strength of our new projects.”

Ömer M. Koç: “By presenting the Vehbi Koç Award we express our gratitude to well-deserving individuals for their achievements.”
“We also believe that it is very important for the activities that Vehbi Koç Foundation undertakes and the institutions it builds to be examples for others. This is where Vehbi Koç Award comes in. By recognizing the individuals and institutions that have pioneered innovations, achieved significant success, and provided outstanding contributions in the fields of education, culture and healthcare on both national and international platforms, we express our gratitude as a well-deserved thank you, and we also believe that we light the way for the young people that will follow the same path,” said Ömer M. Koç.

Ömer M: Koç: “Nine years ago, Vehbi Koç Award was given to a scientist that many of us hadn’t heard of before…”
“Nine years ago at the award ceremony held at the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, the Vehbi Koç Award was given to a scientist that many of us hadn’t heard of before,” said Ömer M. Koç. “We had witnessed his exemplary life story of in the film prepared for him, and touched by the modest speech he gave after receiving the award. On his way to Turkey for that ceremony, Professor Aziz Sancar told his friends in the USA, ‘I am going to receive the Nobel Prize of Turkey’. Eight years after that, he indeed won the Nobel Prize, making us proud once again. The responsibility of the future Vehbi Koç Award selection committees is now higher than ever.”

Ömer M. Koç: “With the completion of Koç University Hospital investments, the world will gain a superb science and healthcare institution.”
On the occasion of Vehbi Koç Award in healthcare this year, Ömer M. Koç shared some details about Koç Holding’s healthcare initiatives, “As you may be aware we opened Koç University School of Medicine in the 2010 – 2011 academic year, and Koç University Hospital started operating in Topkapı in late 2014. By the time Koç University Hospital investments are completed in 2017, not only our country and the region, but also the whole world will have gained a superb science and healthcare institution. The fact that a large portion of resources required for an investment of this scale is financed by our foundation-owned American Hospital is also very important to us. The class of 2016 will be the first graduates of the School of Medicine. We sincerely believe that 2016 will be a historic milestone in terms of medical education in Turkey, and wish all the young ‘Koç’ physicians success.”

After presenting the 15th Vehbi Koç Award to Professor Kamil Uğurbil, Ömer M. Koç concluded by saying, “We wholeheartedly congratulate this esteemed scientist for his globally groundbreaking work on neuroimaging and analyzing the functions of the human brain through magnetic resonance imaging methods.”

Professor Kamil Uğurbil: “We have not solved the mystery of the brain yet but we developed a technique widely used by people interested in the brain’s secrets.”
A documentary about Professor Uğurbil, the recipient of the 15th Vehni Koç Award, was shown during the ceremony. Known as the ‘the Turkish man who solved the mystery of the brain’, Professor Uğurbil spoke about his research, “We have not solved the mystery of the brain yet but we developed a technique widely used by people interested in the brain’s secrets. I am among the people that developed the functional MRI technique. I would like to thank you for recognizing not only me but also other scientists with such awards, it is a very meaningful support for the development of science.”