Atabey Lab

Atabey Lab

The tumor microenvironment is a complex system composed of various cell types and stromal elements such as cancer cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, leukocytes, and antigen-presenting cells. Interactions between tumor cells and the tumor microenvironment play a critical role in all stages of carcinogenesis, from cancer development and recurrence to metastasis formation and response to treatment. Understanding the cellular, molecular, and biochemical foundations of interactions occurring in the tumor microenvironment is crucial for advancements in cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding the composition of the tumor stroma, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and structural and cellular interactions in metabolic processes are key to explain the mechanisms of cancer invasion and metastasis. The "Tumor-Microenvironment Interactions & Metastasis Research Group" at İZTÜ Galen Research Center aims to comprehend how stress conditions in the metastatic niche influence the colonization of tumor cells and organ-specific metastasis. At the same time, the group conducts research to explore the roles of interactions between stromal cells in the tumor microenvironment and tumor cells, especially in the development of organ-specific metastases, primarily as colon cancer liver metastases. In addition to in vitro 2D and 3D co-culture models created with cancer cell lines, our research involves ex-vivo models developed by using primary tissues. These studies aim to contribute to the development of treatments targeting the tumor microenvironment in metastatic cancers.

Our research is funded by project support from funding organizations such as TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and TÜSEB (Turkish Health Institutes Foundation).

Prof. Dr. Safiye Neşe ATABEY Prof. Dr. Safiye Neşe ATABEY Laboratory Director

Prof. Atabey completed her undergraduate education in the Biology Department of Hacettepe University, Faculty of Science, in 1984 and obtained her PhD degree in 1990. Following the doctoral studies, she conducted research at the "National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology" in Bethesda, USA. Dr. Atabey continued her research as a faculty member in the Department of Medical Biology and Genetics at Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Medicine. From 2001 to 2018, she worked as a Professor in the Department of Medical Biology and Genetics at Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Medicine. During this time, she conducted research on signaling pathways involved in cancer progression and also held administrative positions such as Department Chair, Vice Dean of Dokuz Eylül University Faculty of Medicine, Deputy Director of Dokuz Eylül University Institute of Health Sciences. From 2013 to 2018, in addition to her role in the Department of Medical Biology and Genetics at DEU, she served as Deputy Director in the establishment process of DEU, Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Application Research Center. Since 2014, she is  the National Coordinator of "European Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructures (BBMRI-ERIC)," and works on the establishment and standardization of research biobanks in the EU and Turkey.

Her research has focused on the investigation of potential reciprocal interaction of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its tyrosine kinase receptor -c-Met-  with other signaling pathways  and their role in cancer invasion, metastasis, and treatment resistance. She have published more than 50 research papers on this topic in the scientific journals indexed in SCI/SCIE and hold 3 international patents identifying molecules that inhibit cancer cell motility, invasion, and angiogenesis.


Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey, the Director of the Tumor-Microenvironment Interactions and Metastasis Research Group Laboratory, is a faculty member in the Department of Medical Biology at Tinaztepe University, Faculty of Medicine and also serves as esearch group leader at Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center (İBG) under partial assignment according to Law No. 6550 (

 Peyda KORHAN Peyda KORHAN Assistant Professor

Dr. Peyda Korhan achieved BSc degree in Biology with a first-class honor in Turkey, and  completed  her MSc studies in Biomedical Science in the United Kingdom in 2002. Her academic journey continued with a Ph.D. in Medical Biology and Genetics at Dokuz Eylul University in Turkey. Subsequently, she conducted postdoctoral research from 2007 to 2014 in the field of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) under the mentorship of Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey within the same department. During her career, Dr. Korhan also served as a visiting fellow at the School of Engineering and Materials Science, Queen Mary, University of London, where she focused on designing nanoparticles for the cellular delivery of therapeutic molecules. Her research extended to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) as she worked as a research associate at Imperial College, London, collaborating with the group from ANH International in the United Kingdom in 2015. In the following years, Dr. Korhan voluntarily worked in the research group of Dr. Robert Verkerk from ANH International, and continued  her studies on PDAC in the UK from 2016 to 2018. Between 2018 and 2023, she worked as a researcher at Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center , in the Research group  of Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey. As of 2023, Dr. Peyda Korhan holds the position of Assistant Professor at Izmir Tinaztepe University, where she continues her academic and research endeavors.


 Gülhas SOLMAZ Gülhas SOLMAZ Assistant Professor

Dr. Gülhas Solmaz completed her undergraduate studies in the Department of Biology at Middle East Technical University (METU) between 2004 and 2008, earned her Master's degree (MSc) from Yeditepe University's Biotechnology program in 2011. During her master's studies, she conducted research on microbiology, molecular biology, anaerobic microorganisms, and biofilm formation. Between 2011 and 2016, she pursued her doctoral studies at the Hannover Medical School (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover) in Hannover, Germany,  in Infection Biology Doctoral Programme, under the supervision of an successful scientist in the field of  immunology, Prof. Dr. Tim Sparwasser. Throughout her doctoral studies, Dr. Solmaz specialized in immunology, virology, animal experiments, and molecular biology. She successfully completed her doctoral research at the beginning of 2016, earning the title of "Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)." From June 2017 to November 2021, Dr. Solmaz worked as a Researcher at Turkish Biotechnology Institute in Health Institutes of Turkey  (TÜSEB). In December 2021November 2022, she worked as an Expert at Galen Research Center in Izmir Tinaztepe University. Since November 2022, she works as Assistant Professor at Medical Laboratory Techniques Programme in İzmir Tınaztepe University and at the same time conducts research on the tumor microenvironment and cancer aggressiveness in under the supervision of  Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey at Galen Research Center.


 Elvan TURGİL Elvan TURGİL Laboratory Manager

She was born in Izmir in 1982. She completed her undergraduate studies in the Department of Biology at Ege University from 2000 to 2005. Starting her professional career at Buca Medical Center Laboratory in 2005, she continued her work at Tınaztepe Hospital as the laboratory and transfusion center manager from 2013 to 2021. As of March 2021, she serves aslaboratory manager at Izmir Tınaztepe University and works part-time as a biologist in the research group of Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey.

 Barış KELEŞ Barış KELEŞ Master’s Student

He was born in Izmir in 1999. After graduating from Izmir Atatürk High School in 2017, he began his undergraduate studies in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Izmir Institute of Technology. In 2022, he started his master's degree in Biomedicine and Health Technologies at Dokuz Eylül University's Biomedicine and Genomics Institute. He joined Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey's team in November 2022 and has been performing his MSc studies  at Galen Research Center since July 2023.

Project Personel


Post-doctoral researcher;


Post-doctoral researcher;


PhD Student

  1. Korhan P, Tercan Avcı S, Yılmaz Y, Öztemur Islakoğlu Y, Atabey N. Role of Biobanks for Cancer Research and Precision Medicine in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2021 Dec;52(4):1232-1247. doi: 10.1007/s12029-021-00759-y. Epub 2021 Nov 22. PMID: 34807351.
  2. Ekin U, Yuzugullu H, Ozen C, Korhan P, Bagirsakci E, Yilmaz F, Yuzugullu OG, Uzuner H, Alotaibi H, Kirmizibayrak PB, Atabey N, Karakülah G, Ozturk M. Evaluation of ATAD2 as a Potential Target in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2021 Dec;52(4):1356-1369. doi: 10.1007/s12029-021-00732-9. Epub 2021 Nov 5. PMID: 34738187.
  3. Cooper, G.M., (2019), “Hücre Moleküler Yaklaşım, Uluslararası Sekizinci Baskı”. Çeviri Editörleri E. Kalay, N. Atabey, Öztürk, Oxford University Press, Oxford, İngilitere.
  4. Yılmaz Y, Batur T, Korhan P, Öztürk M, Atabey N. Targeting c-Met and AXL Crosstalk for the Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma, in Liver Cancer in the Middle East, S Springer International Publishing ,Switzerland, 2021, BI. Carr (Ed.)
  5. Yilmaz Y, Atabey N. The role of c-Met inhibition in overcoming insulin receptor mediated tyrosine kinase activation in liver cancer, Cell Symposia: Metabolites in Signaling and Disease, Abstract no:CMET2022-229, Lisbon, Portugal, 3-5 April, 2022.

Project 1: Investigation of the role of HGF/c-Met Pathway in tumor microenvironment during the progression of liver metastasis

Project Type: TÜBİTAK 1001 Supported Project

Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Neşe ATABEY

Executing Institution: İzmir Biomedicine and Genome Center (IBG)

Contributing Institutions: Ege University, Izmir Tinaztepe University

Project Team: Prof. Dr. Neşe Atabey, Prof. Dr. Funda Yılmaz Barbet, Prof. Dr. Deniz Nart, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Murat Sezak, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alper Uğuz, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ömer Vedat Ünalp, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tayfun Yoldaş, Dr. Gülçin Çakan Akdoğan, Dr. Peyda Korhan."


Project 2: The Association of HGF Gene Promoter Region DATE Polymorphisms in Stellate Cells in Tumor Microenvironment with Tumor Aggressiveness in Hepatocellular Carcinom

Project Type: TÜBİTAK 2218 Supported Project

Researcher: Dr. Gülhas SOLMAZ

Project Advisor: Prof. Dr. Neşe ATABEY

Executing Institution: İzmir Biomedicine and Genome Center (IBG)

Contributing Institution: Izmir Tinaztepe University

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İzmir Tınaztepe Üniversitesi

Galen Araştırma Merkezi

Aydoğdu Mah. 1267/1 Sk. No:4 Buca/İzmir