Vehbi Koç Foundation's Board of Directors chose Professor Saylan among the candidates nominated by the Selection Committee headed by Professor Tosun Terzioğlu, for her contributions to improving the quality of life in Turkey with her deep belief in the power of education. Türkan Saylan graduated from Istanbul University, School of Medicine in 1963. She started working at the Dermatology Department of Istanbul University's School of Medicine as chief assistant in 1968. She attended advanced training in England on scholarship from British Cultural Council in 1971, and became associate professor in 1972. She took part in short-term studies in France (1974) and in England (1976). She started her research on leprosy the same year and founded the Society for Fighting Against Leprosy. She became a full professor in 1977. Professor Saylan received the International Gandhi Award in India in 1986, and she provided consultation on leprosy to World Health Organization until 2006.
From 1981 to 2002, in addition to her job at the university, Professor Saylan volunteered at Istanbul Leprosy Hospital as chief physician. She was the head of the Dermatology Department of Istanbul School of Medicine (1982-1987), and the director of Leprosy Research Center at Istanbul School of Medicine (1981-2001). She played a key role in the founding of the Dermato-pathology Laboratory, as well as the Outpatient Clinics for Behcet's Disease and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Saylan also assumed the coordination of the National Leprosy Control Program, initiating numerous projects, plans and implementations.
Saylan is one of the co-founders of the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life (ÇYDD), which a group of intellectuals came together and formed in 1989 to ensure that Atatürk's reforms and the secular system are protected and improved. She is also the president of Kandilli High School for Girls Culture and Education Foundation (KANKEV), founded in 1995 for her alma mater. Professor Saylan is a founding member of the International Leprosy Association, as well as a member of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Istanbul Medical Chamber and Turkish Foundation for Children in Need of Protection. After handing over her official duties when she retired in 2002, Saylan carries out the presidency of ÇYDD, KANKEV and Society for Fighting Against Leprosy as volunteer.
As of 2005, she has published 440 papers and articles, 50 of which are medical studies in foreign journals, 204 newspaper articles on medical, social and political topics, and 186 research papers, collected works and case studies in Turkish medical journals and conference books. She has also authored books including "Handbook of Skin and Venereal Diseases in First Stage Health Services", "At Kız" (Horse Girl) in which she told her childhood story, "Cumhuriyetin Bireyi Olmak" (Being an Individual of the Republic), a compilation of her articles, "Radyo Cumhuriyet'te Çağdaş İnsan Söyleşileri" (Conversations with Modern People on Cumhuriyet Radio), a transcript of her shows on Cumhuriyet Radio, "Güneş Umuttan Şimdi Doğar" (The Sun Rises from Hope Now), a compilation of her conversations, "Yapıcılığın Gücü" (The Power of Being Constructive), and "Hekim Olmak" (Being a Doctor).
Following Mustafa V. Koç's speech at the awards ceremony on February 25, 2009 attended by members of the Koç family and esteemed guests, Professor Saylan said that Vehbi Koç played a key role in the advancement of the republic, and added, "When you give scholarship to a child, she learns to say 'I am Atatürk's daughter' wherever she is. Girls will contribute one hundred percent to ending terrorism, hunger, and poverty. Therefore our goal now is to reach one hundred thousand girls."
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