Prof.Dr. Ayhan Okçuoğlu Çavdar passed away on the 24th of June in 2019 in Ankara.
She served as a researcher and mentor in the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Ankara University School of Medicine for over forty years. Prof.Çavdar was graduated from Ankara University School of Medicine in 1953 after her education at Erenköy Kız Lisesi and completed pediatric medicine residency in 1958. She got a pediatric hematology and oncology fellowship at Washington University. After her return to Turkey in 1961, she set up pediatric oncology and hematology units at Ankara University. Pediatric Oncology was first established in Turkey by Çavdar in 1961. She made many contributions to oncology in the fields of leukemias mainly orbital granuloycytic sarcoma, Hodgkin’s disease, Burkitt’s lymphoma in Turkish children. Additionally, she researched pica in Turkey, thalassemias, hemogloninopathies and zinc deficiency in several conditions especially in pregnancies and new born children with congenital abnormalities.
Dr.Çavdar wrote numerous research papers on these subjects published at the international and national periodicals and books. She was elected as the first Turkish member of the SIOP (Société International d’Oncologie Pediatrique- International Society of Pediatric Oncology). Çavdar became the first Turkish member of the American Pediatric Academy after having received the Pediatric Board Certificate in 1962. She was named as the first Turkish pediatric hematolog in the “ Hematology, the Blossming of a Science” written by Prof. Dr. Maxwell Myer Wintrobe in 1985. She established three research units namely, “ Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Research Center”, “ Zinc Deficiency Unit” and “ Pediatric Leukemias and Lymphomas Unit” supported by the Turkish Scientific and Research Council (TUBİTAK). She also constituted UNESCO Satellite Trace Elements Center in 1998. Prof. Çavdar received many awards from professional societies including TUBİTAK Science Award (1976), Pediatric Oncology Service Award ( 1984), Prof. Dr. Nusret Fişek Public Health Service Promotion Award (1998) and the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR) Award (2007). She published over 475 articles ( about 197 in Turkish) and wrote three books.
Dr. Çavdar defended the idea that the primary role of universities was to educate young generations and to make research. After attending to international congresses, she used to share scientific knowledge with her colleagues. She was prominent figure in the Department giving us her full support over years in bad and good times. It was an honor and privilege for me to work with her.
Çavdar will be always be remembered as having established Pediatric Oncology in Turkey (1961) and a founding a member of the Turkish Society of Hematology (1967), Mediterranean Blood Club (1975) and The Turkish Academy of Social Sciences, TUBA, (1993). Her contributions will be greatly appreciated and evolved where she left.
Prof. Dr. Sevgi Gözdaşoğlu
Retired Professor Of Pediatrics, Hematology and Oncology
Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey