G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen


G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen.

G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen


G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen


J. Solo Associate Professor of Chemistry

Research Interests

Bioorganic and medicinal chemistry: Understanding the involvement of lipids in different cell fates; LC-MS based lipidomics; biochemical characterization of lipids of interest

Contact Information

877 Natural Sciences Complex

Buffalo NY, 14260

Phone: (716) 645-4130

Fax: (716) 645-6963



  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Dana Farber Cancer Institute / Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 2009-2013
  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2008
  • BS, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2003


  • Studying involvement of lipids in different biological processes using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS).
  • Identification of lipids that cells regulate during different processes
  • Studying the fate of these lipids in biological environment
  • Investigating the biological implications of changes in lipid content and localization by using fluorescent imaging and other cellular and molecular biology techniques

Research Summary

Lipids are a broad class of biomolecules whose primary role is to form the permeability barriers, which define cellular borders and compartments within them. Increasingly, they are recognized to play critical roles as signaling molecules both within cells and between cells, as lipids themselves, or following transformation by hydrolysis, oxidation or other modifications. As a chemical biologist, my research focuses on investigating the role of lipids and lipid-derived metabolites in different cellular processes, which I think provide a major and unexplored area of biochemistry that is ripe for discovery and therapeutic applications.

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) and senescence (permanent cessation of division) are two natural processes that terminate the proliferative life of an animal cell. They play central roles in normal aging, cancer formation and progression, and response to cancer chemotherapy. Apoptosis has been heavily studied, and protein-based pathways that regulate it are well understood. Senescence, in contrast, has only recently been recognized as a major event in the life of tissue cells, and is much less well understood. Research on apoptosis and senescence have mostly been confined to key protein players. The role of lipids in these cellular events are largely unknown, and interest has focused on a small number of molecules in the sphingolipid family. We aim to construct comprehensive maps of the lipidome at different stages of cell life cycle, identify novel lipids and infer/define their functional relevance in apoptosis and senescence. The findings of these projects will not only provide a better understanding of the nature and involvement of a complex class of compounds in fundamental biological events but could also potentially provide future therapeutic applications for aging, cancer and inflammatory disease.

Selected Recent Publications

(*Corresponding author)

  • Matich E., Ghafari H., Camgoz E.**, Caliskan E.**, Pfeifer B., Haznedaroglu B.Z.*, Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2018) Time series lipidomics analysis of green microalgae under nutrient stress. Accepted Biotech. Biofuel (** undergraduate researcher)
  • Li N., Sancak Y., Frasor J.M., Atilla-Gokcumen G. E.* (2018) A protective role for triacylglycerols during apoptosis. Biochem. 57:72-80.
  • Lizardo D.Y., Parisi L., Li N., Atilla-Gokcumen G. E.* (2018) Non-canonical roles of lipids in different cell fates. Biochem., 57:22-29.
  • Parisi L.R., Li N., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2017) Very long chain fatty acids are functionally involved in necroptosis. Cell Chem Biol, 24(12):1445-1454.
  • Chavez Soria N. G., Montes A., Bisson M. A., Atilla-Gokcumen G. E.*, Aga D. S.* (2017) Mass spectrometry-based metabolic profiling to assess uptake and effects of silver nanoparticles on Arabidopsis thaliana Env. Sci. Nano, 4: 1944-1953.
  • Luo D., Geng J., Li N., Carter K.A, Shao S., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E., Lovell J.F.* (2017) Vessel-targeted chemophototherapy with cationic porphyrin-phospholipid liposomes. Mol. Cancer Ther. 16(11):2452-61.
  • Lizardo D.Y., Lin Y. T., Gokcumen O.*, Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2017) Regulation of lipids is central to replicative senescence Mol BioSystems, 13(3):498-509 Selected as “HOT” article.
  • Matich E., Butryn D., Ghafari H., del Solar V., Camgoz E.**, Pfeifer B., Aga D., Haznedaroglu B.Z., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2016) Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics of value-added biochemicals from non-model microalgae, Algal Research 19:146-54 (** undergraduate researcher)
  • Li N., Lizardo D., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2016) Specific Triacylglycerols Accumulate via Increased Lipogenesis During 5-FU-induced Apoptosis, ACS Chem. Biol. 11(9):2583-7.
  • Luo D., Li N., Carter K., Lin C., Geng J., Shao S., Huang W., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E., Lovell J.F.* (2016) Small amounts of unsaturated and porphyrin phospholipids can accelerate light-triggered liposomal drug release. Small 12(22):3039-47.
  • del Solar V., Lizardo D.Y., Li N., Hurst J., Brais C.**, Atilla-Gokcumen G.E.* (2015) Differential regulation of specific sphingolipids in colon cancer cells during staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Cell Chem. Biol.*** 22(12):1662-1670 (** undergraduate researcher. ***former name of the journal: Chem. Biol.)
  • Singh R.R., Lester Y., Linden K.G., Love N.G., Atilla-Gokcumen G.E., Aga D.S.* (2015) Application of metabolite profiling tools and time-of flight mass spectrometry in the identification of transformation products of iopromide and iopamidol during advanced oxidation. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49(5):2983-90.
  • Atilla-Gokcumen G. E.*, Muro E.*, Relat-Goberna J., Sasse S., Bedigian A.V., Coughlin, M., Garcia-Manyes, S., Eggert, U. S. (2014) Dividing cells regulate their lipid composition and localization. Cell 156, 428-439. (*Contributed equally). Recommended by Faculty 1000
  • Atilla-Gokcumen, G. E., Bedigian, A. V., Sasse, S., and Eggert, U. S. (2011) Inhibition of glycosphingolipid biosynthesis induces cytokinesis failure, J Am. Chem. Soc. 133, 10010-10013.