Fatma Chafra


College / University

Bilkent University

Highest Degree

Bachelor of Science

Major Subjects

Molecular Biology and Genetics

64234-1 Chafra


Turkey, Tunisia

Lab Experience

Molecular biology techniques (PCR, molecular cloning, Western blotting, RNA purification, nuclear extract preparation, SDS-PAGE), Coimmunoprecipitation and protein-protein interaction studies, Baculovirus protein (co-)expression and purification, Protein expression, optimization, quantification and purification (Bradford, BCA, FPLC), Mammalian tissue culture experience, Experience with M13 phage, Aseptic techniques, Animal handling on model organisms including mouse and zebrafish, Metagenomics and transcriptomics analysis in Linux/Bash, R, and Galaxy (genome annotation, pathway annotation, RNA-sequencing analysis)

Projects / Research

  • 09/2022 – 07/2022: Remote Senior Project student at the Helmholtz Institute Environmental Research Center (UFZ) (Working Group Microbial Data Science) on the analysis of benzene-degrading genes in bacteriophages using bioinformatics and machine learning approaches
  • 09/2022 – 06/2022: Undergraduate Intern at Bilkent University, Cevher Lab on the biochemical characterization of the Mediator complex and RNA-seq analysis of RUNX1 and RUNX1T1 transcripts of 40 cell lines
  • 11/2021 – 08/2022: Guest Scientist (ERASMUS+) at the Helmholtz Institute Environmental Research Center (UFZ) (Working Group Microbial Data Science) working on generating a standardized open-access pipeline for mining proteins from genomes and analyzing metagenome-assembled genomes for different metabolic pathways
  • 02/2021 – 08/2022: Bilkent UNAM International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition Team member working on the in silico design, cloning, screening, protein expression and functional assays of the Survival Motor Neuron 1 (SMN1) and botulinum neurotoxin A protein fusions for the development of a novel therapeutic against Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)
  • 11/2020 – 07/2021: Project Intern at Bilkent University, Güre Lab on the in silico determination of specific RNA editing events and their relationship to gastric cancer cell lines’ sensitivity to chemotherapy drugs in R using CCLE and TCGA databases
  • 07/2020 – 09/2020: Undergraduate researcher at National Institute of Materials Science and Nanotechnology (UNAM) conducting qPCR experiments for Turkey’s first SARS-COV2 RT-qPCR Diagnosis Kit.
  • 11/2019 – 06/2020: Bilkent UNAMBG International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition Team member working on the cloning and screening experiments of the antiviral protein Griffithsin and its possible novel therapeutic administration via M13 bacteriophage coat display for prophylactic applications. This antiviral is currently marketed in Turkey.

Scholarships / Awards

2023 – 2024: Stipend by the International Max Planck Research School
2023: Graduated as a High Honor student and ranked top of class among the 2023 graduates of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Bilkent University
2022 – 2023: The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Türkiye (TÜBİTAK) – 2205 Undergraduate Merit Scholarship
2020 – 2023: Bilkent University Undergraduate Merit Scholarship (100% coverage)


I am interested in uncovering the mechanistic aspects of biological systems, expanding them with inventive components, and utilizing them in novel real-world applications. I am motivated by the idea of hijacking natural components to develop therapeutics for diseases and different environmental applications. Among my professional interests are ecology and microbiology specifically microbial communities and disease states, omics technologies, and synthetic and systems biology including engineering cells for therapeutic and bioremediation purposes. All of these fields confer the tools and knowledge to design novel systems with the possibility of actively solving global problems in human and environmental health. To accomplish this, I strongly believe that an interdisciplinary environment is critical. As a student who has had the opportunity to intern in many different fields ranging from cancer bioinformatics to synthetic biology and microbial ecology, the MSc/PhD Molecular Biology Program is a great opportunity to continue my studies at an institution with an interdisciplinary understanding of biological sciences.