TÜSEB / About Us
A New Hope for Health Sciences and Health Biotechnology;
Health Institutes of Turkey (TUSEB)
Medicine is developing with innovations in a tremendous pace. Technology and recent inventions in genome bring new challenges. During all ages, medical doctors had to face different sort of challenges.
In the last century, in the USA and Western European countries, National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA, Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in England, INSERM in France, and Max Planck Society in Germany were established in order to do scientific research on health, promote and coordinate them. Intended for the same purpose, Health Institutes of Turkey (TUSEB) was established officially in Turkey in November, 2014, and the effort of organization started with the appointment of founding president in the mid – 2015. The research related to health in our country have been started to promote notably by TUBITAK and by the universities’ own resources since 1960s.
The establishment date of TUSEB, in fact, concurred in a period of time that the important changes and developments related to health and health sciences take place. Between the challenges, aging is the leading one. Today, life expectancy is getting longer, and as a result of this, elderly population increases. The population above hundred-year-old increases dramatically. The diseases associated with aging lead to not only severe economic burden but also the deterioration of the person’s quality of life. Artificial intelligence and robotic systems are getting to be used more commonly in the applications of health. The further understanding of human genome is a revolutionary issue in terms of human history. Genome becomes a discipline in itself, and with starting to use cutting-edge high technology on genomic research day by day, not only the genetic diseases but also such chronic complex diseases as diabetes and obesity have begun to undergo serious changes in diagnosis and treatment. “Precision Medicine” is an updated statement of a traditional concept (there is no ‘disease’, but patient) and the use of it especially on cancer treatment becomes a routine application. Billions of data emerge from genomic analyses and bio-informatics science is required to make evaluations. Translational Medicine is a relatively new concept and it covers the mutual interaction between basic scientific research and clinical research, and thus, it paves the way for arising new diagnosis and treatment. Brain research has advanced over the past 20 years, and thus, the brain functions have been understood better, so significant progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases. New imaging methods are used in the diagnosis of brain diseases. Besides organic brain disorders, even borderline personality disorders can be imaged with neuro-radiologic methods. Aerospace Medicine is a brand new research field in relevant countries. Regenerative Medicine will continue to be one of the most important research areas in the upcoming years. Tissue engineering, cellular therapy and the rapid developments in medical devices technology enable the artificial organs to be constructed. It is inevitable to review the medical education in Turkey, at certain intervals in parallel with these developments around the world, as well.
The purposes of establishment of TUSEB are clearly stated in the related law no: 6569 that make and promote R & D in the field of health sciences and health biotechnology. However, the applications in the world and in Turkey indicate that instead of intramural R & D works, supporting extramural R & D studies is a more appropriate approach. There is only one exception: basic scientific research area. Industry, generally, does not support basic scientific research on a large scale. The most crucial reason for this is that basic scientific research cannot be figured out to become a commercial outcome, or that there is no such expectation in the short term. Actually, basic scientific research does not aim to obtain a product that can be used for diagnosis and treatment in a short period of time. But, without basic science, it is not possible to reach new ideas and discoveries in science. Therefore, TUSEB will make R & D in the field of basic sciences related to health sciences itself, and train the researchers. When the countries that are advanced in science and technology are examined, it is easily understood that they are also the pioneers in basic scientific research. TUSEB will renovate the support policies considering the scientific developments and needs in the course of time. Basic Sciences, Translational Medicine, Precision Medicine and Biotechnology, in general, are supported proportionally and evenly.
TUSEB has two campuses now. The first one is Koşuyolu Campus, located in İstanbul, and a basic scientific research center related to such chronic complex diseases as obesity and diabetes will be established here. The survey – project and infrastructure studies are still going on. It is thought that the center to be established here should also have the features to fulfill the needs of a wide geographical area. The center has a dynamic structure and will include the features that advanced basic scientific research can be done. R & D support programs of TUSEB will be conducted in Koşuyolu, as well. The second campus of TUSEB is Mavi Göl (Mamak), located in Ankara. We have started to establish Cancer Research Center in Mavi Göl Campus. Aziz Sancar attended to the opening ceremony of the research center dedicated to his name: Aziz Sancar Research Center. We have begun to establish two important research laboratories there. The first one is Chronobiology and DNA Repairment Mechanisms Laboratory. As the name suggests, it is targeted to do research related to Aziz Sancar’s own field of study in this lab. The second lab will be “Genome Research Laboratory” where genomic studies will be carried out. This lab, which will be led by TUSEB, will also be a reference center of “Turkish Genome Project” to be started soon. Moreover, regarding the genome research, the establishment of research centers in the universities whose human and physical infrastructure are proper will be supported within the scope of the project. It is now accepted by the scientific world that genome science will be one of the most crucial research fields in the upcoming years. The data to be ensued from society as a result of genome studies will change health systems to a large extent. TUSEB, Turkey Health Policies Institute has already begun to work on the adaptation of genomic data to health systems. The existing representatives of a civilization that presented very original and new information and discoveries to the scientific world especially between 8 – 14th centuries have a lot of extraordinary responsibilities. It is a general fact that science is universal, but developed countries are also the ones that make contributions to the universal science the most. Genome research centers will be a ‘project’ of TUSEB to train scientists.
TUSEB will also support the plasma and plasma products, vaccine and drug development studies that have strategical importance. It will support the studies on vaccine production in Turkey. Significant studies on this subject have been performed, and the required projects came into force in order to produce initially viral vaccines in Turkey, a short time ago. The laboratories which were founded in a university before and where Phase – 1 studies of vaccine production were carried out for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever disease for the first time around the world have begun to be supported by TUSEB. One of the most remarkable fields that we care about is to produce medical devices and to develop new technological devices in our country. Furthermore, we will value technology transfer related to medical devices and the development of new technologies.
The biobanks where tissue, blood and blood products, DNA and other biological specimens are stored are very significant for scientific studies. We have started to establish a National Biobank in Mavi Göl – Ankara Campus which serves the purpose of Turkey. Thus, advanced scientific studies, particularly cancer research, can be done, and also it will enable Turkish scientists to join the international multicenter studies which have the feature of contributing to universal science. National Biobank will have prevented waste of resources considerably, too.
TUSEB now has seven institutes including Turkish Cancer Institute, Turkish Biotechnology Institute, Turkish Institute for Public Health and Chronic Diseases, Turkish Health Care Quality and Accreditation Institute, Turkish Maternity, Child and Adolescent Health Institute, Turkish Traditional and Complementary Medicine Institute, Turkish Health Policies Institute. If required, new institutes can be further established. From 2019, research projects support programs will be launched in the fields of health sciences and health biotechnology. The topics to be selected will be determined by the institutes’ board of scientific counsellors. In selecting the topics, universal and local health problems will be taken into consideration, and the support to the innovative research will also be paid attention. International scientific collaborations will be promoted to the utmost. Primarily strategic R & D projects will be supported. In this regard, TUSEB – Research Centers will be established in selected topics and at the universities which have proper physical and academic infrastructure. At these centers priority will be given to support applications of translational medicine excessively. The appointment of centers will be decided by TUSEB after the investigation of universities’ research infrastructure.
In 2017, “TUSEB Aziz Sancar Science, Service and Incentive Awards” program was launched and the first awards were given. We have a lot of highly qualified researchers working in healthcare abroad. It has been planned that new applications are realized so as to bring the experiences of Turkish scientists working abroad to our country. Turkish Medical World Congress, which our scientists working abroad on the selected topics meet with the scientists working on the same topics in our country, has been started to be organized by TUSEB since 2017. Vth Turkish Medical World Congress in 2018, will be on ‘Chronic Diseases’. Each year the hottest topic in health sciences is chosen as the main theme of the Congress. Chronic Diseases topic of TUSEB for the Vth Congress is in accordance with the World Health Organization strategic paper for 2030 SDG targets.
In line with the targets we have determined, Turkey will be one of the world’s leading countries in the fields of health sciences and biotechnology in a short period of time.
Prof. Dr. H. Fahrettin Keleştemur,
President of TUSEB,