FEBS 60th anniversary reflections – Ferhan G. Sagin, FEBS Education and Training Committee Chair

At this milestone of FEBS turning 60, we asked FEBS Executive Committee Members – the senior scientists currently overseeing the organization – to introduce themselves and reflect on FEBS past, present and future.
FEBS 60th anniversary reflections – Ferhan G. Sagin, FEBS Education and Training Committee Chair

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In brief, what is your role at FEBS?

I wear a few exciting hats at FEBS: I lead the FEBS Education and Training Committee, help steer our direction as a member of the Executive Committee, and I’m gearing up to chair the next big FEBS Congress in Istanbul in 2025. The FEBS Education and Training Committee is proactive and pivotal in educational innovation as well as in good education practices to nurture the upcoming generation of molecular life scientists. Thus my role here is one that blends vision with action. Overall, with all my hats, my job is to keep the energy high, the ideas flowing, and make sure everyone – from students to seasoned scientists – feels at home and inspired at FEBS.

Tell us a little about your research interests and career.

My research journey was through the dynamic fields of molecular biology and biochemistry, with a keen interest in the cellular processes that pivot between health and disease. My work has been centered on the molecular intricacies of inflammation and oxidant stress, and their roles in disease pathogenesis. Collaborative research has expanded my horizons, allowing me to explore the biochemical landscape of organophosphate intoxication and LDL oxidation on an international scale. A seminal contribution from our group was to elucidate the involvement of lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in the early detection of atherogenic activity in pediatric populations. Moving forward, our focus is on the translational potential of this research, particularly in pioneering biosensor technology for the precise detection of biomolecules critical to understanding and treating disease.

Success in science is very important but what may be equally important is success in training young scientists. With this in mind, I approached education with the same curiosity I approached science. This led me to search for and apply novel techniques to engage my students in their own training and learning. Educational technologies, team-based learning (TBL), student assessment and mentoring were my main interests. I believe the biggest impact of this approach was that most of my students started to enjoy learning by taking their own responsibility for it.

What was your first contact with FEBS?

My first encounter with FEBS was as a young PhD student attending one of the Advanced Courses (An Introduction to Animal Cell Culture Techniques for Biochemists, 27 June – 6 July 1994, Dublin, Ireland). That course wasn't just about learning techniques; it was also about experiencing a vibrant blend of ideas and cultures. We were all eager learners by day and enthusiastic explorers by night, in the city's academic heritage. I left Dublin with a toolkit of skills and a network of peers. Later, when I reflected back I realized how that educational richness, cultural diversity, and the enthusiasm that the course instilled in me aligns with the FEBS’ commitment to scientific and personal growth.

Why do you volunteer your time now to FEBS leadership and committee work?

Volunteering with FEBS is my way of giving back to a community that shaped my scientific career and personal growth. It's about building the groundwork that supports other researchers' climbs, ensuring that we all rise by lifting others, as Robert Ingersoll beautifully put it. This is the essence of my work at FEBS – helping everyone reach higher.

What to you see as the main challenges in the research culture/landscape for bioscience researchers in the coming years?

The frontier of molecular life sciences is ever-expanding, with vast questions about cellular complexities and disease mechanisms still unanswered. One of the main challenges we face is staying ahead of rapid technological advancements and ensuring ethical boundaries. FEBS can play a pivotal role here by facilitating discussions and guidelines that help navigate these waters.

What does FEBS mean to you?

FEBS, to me, is the lifeblood of the molecular life sciences community in Europe. It's a place where over 30,000 members from diverse Societies converge to drive scientific progress. Through journals, congresses, and educational courses, FEBS fosters a spirit of cooperation that transcends borders.

FEBS is where ideas germinate, collaborations form, and the future of biochemistry and molecular biology is written. It's a garden where knowledge blooms and where each of us, regardless of background or discipline, can find the space to grow. It's this spirit of collective advancement and support for the current and next wave of scientists that FEBS embodies for me.

What FEBS opportunities would you recommend to scientists at your or an earlier career stage?

I wholeheartedly recommend engaging with FEBS’s vast array of education workshops, advanced courses, and fellowships. These opportunities are not just stepping stones in your career but are also doorways to collaborations and new scientific horizons. Dive in, the water’s fine!

Top image of post: Ferhan Sagin poised to ask a question at the FEBS Education and Training Conference 2024, Antalya, Türkiye. 

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I can testify that Ferhan is great in kepping E high :)