2022 Glycobiology Significant Achievement Award
Dr. Fikri Avci

The Glycobiology Significant Achievement Award is given annually by Oxford University Press (publisher of Glycobiology) to honor new or mid-career scientists who have made key discoveries during their early careers with the potential to have a substantial impact on the glycoscience community.

Oxford is delighted to present the 2022 Glycobiology Significant Achievement Award to Dr. Fikri Avci,who has served as an Associate Professor in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia. He recently moved his laboratory to the Department of Biochemistry and Emory Vaccine Center at the Emory University School of Medicine. The award will be given to Dr. Avci during the Annual Meeting of the Society for Glycobiology, which will be held in Amelia Island, Florida, this fall.

Dr. Avci has established an exceptionally productive and highly interdisciplinary research group addressing problems at the interface of glycobiology and immunology and is now a leader in the field of glycoimmunology. His postdoctoral work published in Nature Medicine (Avci et al., 2011) was a breakthrough in the field and served as the foundation for his successful research program. Dr. Avci and his colleagues described the molecular and cellular mechanisms for T-cell recruitment by glycoconjugate vaccines. This seminal and paradigm-shifting work has been highlighted in various print and online media and has had direct and indirect impacts on novel strategies for vaccine development. The strength of his group has been rooted in exploring mechanisms of effector immune responses induced by bacterial (e.g., Streptococcus pneumoniae) and viral (e.g., HIV) pathogens through their surface glycoconjugates. Dr. Avci’s work has direct relevance to the design of a new generation of vaccines against these devasting pathogens. In one study, his research group identified new T cell-specific immune mechanisms induced by HIV envelope glycoprotein, which offered a foundation for developing a protective AIDS vaccine (Nature Comm, 2020). In another key discovery, Dr. Avci’s research group demonstrated that host protein glycosylation can be detrimental to nucleic acid vaccine design (PNAS, 2020). More recently his research group elucidated the impact of immune suppressants used clinically on SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy (Vaccine, 2022). His group’s work on bacterial polysaccharides and conjugate vaccines against bacterial pathogens yielded many important discoveries published in reputable journals such as mBio, JBC, JI, and Glycobiology. The Avci Lab also identified and developed a pneumococcal polysaccharide-degrading enzyme, which is currently being investigated in preclinical studies as a biological antibacterial drug target through a federally and privately funded startup company Dr. Avci founded. Dr. Avci’s research in infectious diseases and vaccine research could not have been more relevant and important in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. His research group has also very exciting new findings in cancer immunology and gut microbiome research. Dr. Avci’s achievements to date foretell a continuing success in his research program to make truly impactful contributions in immunology and glycobiology with direct implications for human health. Thus, Dr. Avci is an emerging leader in a highly important research field. Dr. Avci has also been an exemplary citizen in the service of his scientific community. He has organized many symposia, and conferences and has been serving on the editorial boards of multiple journals, including Glycobiology.

Oxford is proud to honor Dr. Avci as this year’s Glycobiology Significant Achievement Awardee.