Dilek Colak

2014 Regional Award Finalist — Post-Doc

Dilek Colak

Current Position:
Assistant Professor of Neuroscience

Weill Cornell Medical College


Recognized for: Work on regulatory mechanisms in RNA and protein expression during neuronal development

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Neuroscience, Stem Cell Biology, RNA biology

Dilek Colak


PhD, Neuroscience, Ludwig Maximilian University, Germany
BS, Biology, Hacettepe University, Turkey

Dr. Colak's research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopmental diseases.  Projects in her lab focus on RNA molecules and how they control neuronal development. 

Her studies have revealed general principles that have broad applicability and impact even outside of neuroscience. Dr. Colak described a novel RNA-degradation pathway in axon guidance and has extended her focus to understand the cause of Fragile-X Syndrome, the most common inherited form of mental retardation and autism. Using stem cells derived from Fragile-X Syndrome embryos, she discovered that a novel RNA-directed gene regulatory mechanism is responsible for Fragile-X Syndrome. 

"My goal is understand the molecular causes underlying the synaptic dysfunction seen in psychiatric diseases such as Autism and Schizophrenia. My research has potential to identify novel therapeutic targets for these complex diseases." 

Key Publications:

  1. Colak, D., Zaninovic, N., Cohen, M.S., Rosenwaks, Z., Yang, W.Y., Gerhardt, J., Disney, M.D., Jaffrey, S.R.  Promoter-bound trinucleotide repeat mRNA drives epigenetic silencing in Fragile X syndrome.  Science. 2014
  2. Colak, D., Ji, S.-J., Porse B.T., Jaffrey, S.R.  Regulation of axon guidance by compartmentalized nonsense-mediated mRNA decay. Cell. 2013
  3. Gerhardt, J., Tomishima, M., Zaninovic, N., Colak, D., Yan, Z., Zhan, Q., Rosenwaks, Z., Jaffrey, S.R., Schildkraut, C.L.  The DNA replication program is altered at the FMR1 locus in fragile X embryonic stem cells. Mol Cell. 2014

Other Honors:

2009 European Molecular Biology Organization Fellowship
2011 Druckenmiller Fellowship, New York Stem Cell Foundation