Okay Saydam, MSc, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Okay Saydam

Contact Info


Office Phone 612-626-2778

Fax 612-626-2815

Mailing Address:
Pediatric Hem/Onc
MMC 484
420 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Administrative Assistant Name
Allyce Amidon

Administrative Phone

Administrative Email

Administrative Fax Number

Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University, Boston

PhD, Molecular Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Zürich, Switzerland

MSc, Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey

BS, Medical Biological Sciences, School of Medicine, Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey

Postdoctoral Studies, Gene Therapy, University of Zürich, Switzerland


Dr. Okay Saydam is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology and Oncology. He received his undergraduate degree in medical-biological science and his masters of science at the School of Medicine of Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey. He earned his PhD in molecular biology from the Institute of Molecular Biology of the University of Zürich in Switzerland. Dr. Saydam went on to complete postdoctoral studies in gene therapy at the University of Zürich and a fellowship under Xandra Breakefield, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He has had academic appointments at Harvard Medical School and the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.

Dr. Saydam’s research has received funding from the United States, Austria, Switzerland, and the Turkish National Foundation. His most current project, on extracellular vesicles, is funded by the University of Minnesota, BRAINS program. The main goal of his research is to explore the molecular pathways/factors that control development and progression of brain tumors, with an ultimate objective of translating molecular mechanistic knowledge into clinical applications by developing novel therapeutic drugs and early biomarker screening tools for brain tumors.

Dr. Saydam serves as an ad-hoc reviewer of numerous scientific journals and has served on several grant review panels. He is the author of several dozen papers and book chapters and holds three patents related to his work on brain tumors.

Awards & Recognition

  • Julius Muller-Stiftung Research Award, Switzerland, 2004
  • Krebsliga Kanton Zurich Research Award, Switzerland, 2005-2006
  • Young Investigation Award, Children´s Tumor Foundation, 2007-2009
  • Drug Discovery Initiative Award, Children´s Tumor Foundation, 2008
  • Melody Private Stiftung, “Translational Brain Tumor Studies,” Austria, 2011
  • Novel Serum Tumor Biomarkers for Meningiomas, Children Cancer Research Institute, Austria, 2013
  • New Investigator of the Month, American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy, 2015


Research Summary/Interests

The main goal of my research is to explore the molecular pathways/factors that control tumor development and progression in the central nervous system. My ultimate objective is to translate our molecular mechanistic knowledge into clinical applications by developing novel therapeutic drugs and early biomarker screening tools for brain tumors. My strategy involves comprehensive analyses of patient-derived specimens such as tumor tissue/cells and sera through use of cutting-edge technologies such as next-generation sequencing, RNA sequencing, miRNA and drug screening, gene arrays, and proteomics in order to identify tumor-specific molecular targets that can be used for novel drug development or employed as early tumor biomarker.

My research topics are as follows:

Clinical Biomarker Development Studies for brain tumors:

Glioblastomas: we are working on several clinical biomarker development studies for glioblastomas using serum, tissues and extracellular vesicles. We are employing comprehensive analyses of tumor tissues/cells through the high-throughput screening methodologies such as proteomics, gene arrays, next generation sequencing (NGS), tumor-associated autoantibody (TAA) array, and Proseek Multiplex Cancer Panel, directing for discovery of novel drug targets and biomarkers.

Meningiomas: we are performing similar screening studies (see above) for meningioma patients as well and develop a panel consisting of 5 circulating protein biomarkers which can be useful in the clinical practice to monitor transition of meningiomas from benign to malignant forms.

Medulloblastomas: we recently discovered an oncogene in the extracellular vesicles of medulloblastoma patients that can be used as a worldwide screening tool in newborns for early detection of medulloblastomas. Additionally, we also developed a nano-string based panel biomarkers that can be useful to genetically diagnose sub-types of medulloblastomas in the patient serums.

Genetically engineering extracellular vesicles (EVs) as a novel small-molecule delivery tool for brain tumors: we have recently developed genetically engineered EVs by expressing high levels of the mRNA and protein (Mizrak et al., 2013; Erkan et al.: 2016 and 2017). We are now using these molecules as a miRNA/RNA/protein and small molecule delivery tool to treat brain tumors

High-throughput drug discoveries for brain tumors: another topic of my research is to perform High-throughput Drug Discovery Studies (HTDDS) for brain tumors using the several libraries consisting of FDA approved drugs and bioactive compounds.

Research Funding Grants

2019-2020 Biomedical Research Awards for Interdisciplinary New Science (BRAINS) (PI)

2017-2019 Turkish National Foundation (Co-I)

2015-2017 LKW Bauers, Saydam (PI)

2015-2017 Scientific-Technical Agreement with Ukraine-Austria (PI)


2010-2017 Forschungsgesellschaft for Brain Tumors Saydam (PI)

2010-2017 Melodie Stiftung (PI)

2011-2015 EU-FP7-PEOPLE-2011-CIG (PI)

2009 NIH, DOD W81XWH-09-1-0476 (Co-I)

2008 Children’s Tumor Foundation (Co-I)

2007-2009 Children’s Tumor Foundation, USA (PI)

2005-2006 Krebsliga Kanton Zurich, Switzerland (Co-I)

2004 Julius Muller-Stiftung, Switzerland (Co-I)


  • Producing therapeutic micro vesicles to deliver therapeutic molecule, by isolating donor cells from subject, genetically modifying donor cells to express therapeutic nucleic acid and protein and isolating microvesicles made by donor cells. Patent Number: WO2013138427-A1, Patent Assignee: GEN HOSPITAL CORP
  • New nucleic acid molecule comprising a first nucleic acid sequence, operably linked to a second, heterologous nucleic acid sequence, useful for delivering a therapeutic molecule and for treating tumor. Patent Number: WO2013109713-A1 Patent Assignee: GEN HOSPITAL CORP



  1. Ströbel T, Madlener S, Tuna S, Vose S, Lagerweij T, Wurdinger T, Vierlinger K, Wöhrer A, Price BD, Demple B, Saydam O, Saydam N. Ape1 guides DNA repair pathway choice that is associated with drug tolerance in glioblastoma. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 29;7(1):9674.
  2. Senfter D1, Erkan EP1, Jungwirth G1, Ströbel T2, Saydam N1, and Saydam O. Mini-chromosome maintenance protein 10 is overexpressed in medulloblastoma and is a therapeutic target. Pediatric Blood & Cancer 2017 Jun 9. doi: 10
  3. Erkan EP.1, Senfter D1, Madlener S.1, Jungwirth G.1, Ströbel G.2, Saydam N.1and Saydam O.1 Extracellular vesicle-mediated suicide mRNA/protein delivery inhibits glioblastoma tumor growth in vivo. 2017 Cancer Gene Ther. Jan. 24(1):38-44
  4. Maria Harmati, Gabor Decsi, Sandor Kormondi, Zsolt Szegletes, Laszlo Janovak, Imre Dekany, Okay Saydam, Edina Gyukity-Sebestyen, Gabriella Dobra, Istvan Nagy, Katalin Nagy, Krisztina Buzas. Stressors alter intercellular communication and exosome profile of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells. 2016 J Oral Pathol Med. Sep 6. doi: 10.111.
  5. Senol O., Schaaij-Visse T., Pekcan E.E, Lewandrowski G., Pham T., Piersma S., Peerdeman S., Stroebel T., Tannous B., Saydam N., Jimenez C., and Saydam O. miR-200a-mediated suppression of non-muscle heavy chain IIb inhibits meningioma cell migration and tumor growth in vivo. Oncogene. 2015 Apr 2;34(14):1790-8.
  6. Erkan E.P., Ströbel T. Grant Lewandrowski G., Tannous B., Madlener S., Czech T., Saydam N. and Saydam O. Depletion of mini-chromosome maintenance protein 7 inhibits glioblastoma multiforme tumor growth in vivo. Oncogene. 2014 Sep 25;33(39):4778-85.
  7. Madlener S., Ströbel T., Vose S., Saydam O, Brendan D. Price BD, Bruce Demple B., and Saydam N. A novel link between base excision DNA repair and telomere maintenance: Ape1/Ref-1 is required for telomere protection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Oct 29;110(44):17844-9
  8. Mizrak A., Bolukbasi MF., Ozdener GB, Brenner GJ., S, Ströbel T., Breakefield XO., and Saydam O. Genetically engineered microvesicles carrying suicide mRNA/protein inhibit schwannoma tumor growth. Molecular Therapy. 2013 Jan;21(1):101-8
  9. Mizrak A., Bolukbasi MF., Ozdener GB, Brenner GJ., S, Ströbel T., Breakefield XO., and Saydam O. Genetically engineered microvesicles carrying suicide mRNA/protein inhibit schwannoma tumor growth. Molecular Therapy. 2013 Jan;21(1):101-8.
  10. Bolukbasi MF., Mizrak A., Ozdener GB., Madlener S., Ströbel T., Erkan EP., Breakefield XO., and Saydam O. miR-1289 and “zipcode”-like sequence enrich mRNAs in microvesicles. Mol Ther Nucleic Acids 2012, 1: e10.
  11. Saydam O., Senol O., Würdinger T., Mizrak A., Ozdener G.B., Stemmer-Rachamimov A.O., Yi M., Stephens R.M., Krichevsky A.M., Saydam N., Brenner G.J., Breakefield A.O. Low microRNA-7 in schwannoma tumors stimulates growth through upregulation of three oncogenic signaling pathways, Cancer Res. 2011 Feb 1;71(3):852-61.
  12. Saydam O., Ozdener G.B., Senol O., Mizraka A., Prabhakara S., Stemmer-Rachamimov A., Breakefield X.O., Brenner G.J. A novel imaging-compatible sciatic nerve schwannoma model. J Neurosci Methods. 2011 Jan 30;195(1):75-7.
  13. Saydam O., Senol O., Schaaij-Visser T., Pham T.V., Piersma S.R., Stemmer-Rachamimov A.O., Peerdeman S.M., Jimenez C.R. 2010. Proteomics protein profiling reveals mini-chromosome maintenance (MCM) proteins as potential novel tumor markers for meningiomas. J Proteome Res 9:485-94.
  14. Saydam O., Shen Y., Würdinger T, Senol O., Boke E., James M.F., Tannous B.A., Stemmer- Rachamimov A.O., Yi M., Stephens R.M., Fraefel C., Gusella J.F., Krichevsky A.M., Breakefield X.O. 2009. Down-regulated microRNA-200a in meningiomas promotes tumor growth by reducing E-cadherin and activating the Wnt/b-catenin signaling pathway. Mol Cell Biol 29:5923-40.
  15. Würdinger T., Tannous B.A., Saydam O., Skog J., Grau S., Weissleder R., Breakefield X.O., Krichevsky A.M. 2008. Growth factor-induced miR-296 regulates growth factor receptor overexpression on angiogenic endothelial cells. Cancer Cell 14:382-93.
  16. Cortés M.L., Oehmig A., Saydam O., Sanford J.D., Perry K.F, Fraefel C., Breakefield X.O. 2008. Targeted integration of functional human ATM cDNA into genome mediated byHSV/AAV hybrid amplicon vector. Mol Therapy 16:81-88.
  17. Tannous B.A., Christensen A.P., Pike L., Wurdinger T., Perry K.F., Saydam O., Jacobs A.H., García-Añoveros J., Weissleder R, Sena-Esteves M, Corey D.P., Breakefield X.O. 2008. Mutant sodium channel for tumor therapy. Mol Therapy 17:810-9.
  18. Saydam O., Saydam N., Glauser D.L., Pruschy M., Dinh-Van V., Hilbe M., Jacobs A.H., Ackermann, Fraefel C. 2007. HSV-1 amplicon mediated post-transcriptional inhibition of Rad51 sensitizes human glioma cells to ionizing radiation. Gene Therapy 14:1143-51.
  19. Glauser D.L., Strasser R., Laimbacher A.S., Saydam O., Clement N., Linden R.M., Ackermann M., Fraefel C. 2007. Live co-visualization of Adeno-Associated Virus and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 DNA replication: Molecular mechanisms of interaction. J Virol 81:4732-43.
  20. Saydam O., Steiner F., Vogt B., Ackermann M., Schwyzer M. 2006. Host cell targets of the immediate-early protein BICP22 of bovine herpesvirus 1. Vet Microbiol 113:185-92.
  21. Saydam O., Glauser DL., Heid .I, Turkeri G., Jacobs A.H., Ackermann A., Fraefel C. 2005. RNA interference silencing of epidermal growth factor receptor by Herpes Simplex Virus-1 amplicons inhibits growth of human glioblastoma cells in vivo. Mol Ther 12:803-12.
  22. Glauser D., Saydam O., Balsiger N.A., Heid I., Linden R.M., Ackermann M., Fraefel C. 2005. Four-dimensional visualization of the simultaneous activity of alternative adeno-associated virus replication origins. J Virol 79:12218-12230.
  23. Muller L., Saydam O., Saeki Y., Heid .I, Fraefel C. 2005. HSV-1 amplicon vectors for gene replacement therapy: Liver- and muscle-directed gene transfer. J Virol Methods 123: 65-72.
  24. Saydam O, Abril C, Vogt B, Ackermann M, Schwyzer M. 2004. Transactivator proteinBICP0 of bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) is blocked by prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), which points to a mechanism for PGD2-mediated inhibition of BHV-1 replication. J Virol. 2004 Apr;78(8):3805-10
  25. Saydam O, Vogt B, Ackermann M, Schwyzer M. 2002. Search for physical interaction between BICP0 of bovine herpesvirus-1 and p53 tumor suppressor protein. Vet Microbiol. Apr 22;86(1-2):95-102.
  26. Ozden A, Aybek Z, Saydam N, Calli N, Saydam O, Düzcan E, Güner G. 1998.Cytoprotective effect of trimetazidine on 75 min warm renal ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats. Eur Surg Res. 30(4):227-34.
  27. Saydam N, Kir A, Demir O, Hazan E, Oto O, Saydam O, Guner G. Determination of Glutathione, Glutathione Reductase, Glutathione Peroxidase and Glutathione STransferase Levels in Human Lung Cancer Tissues. Cancer Letters 1997, 119:13-19.
  28. ??lekel H, U?urlu B, Hazan E, Saydam N, Saydam O, Oto O, Güner G. 1999. Evaluation of lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status in myocardial tissue and coronary sinus blood of patients undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass. Turk J Bioch.24:5-13.
  29. Koseoglu MH, Turan T, Aybek Z, Saydam O, Demirkan N, Guner G. 1998. Structural changes in testicular tissue of experimentally varicocele induced rats. Biochem Soc Trans. Nov;26(4):S381.
  30. Tetik C, Bostanci B, Ozden A, Demirkan N, Saydam O, Guner G. 1998. Protective effect of Nitro L-Arginine in the rat model of acetic acid induced colitis. Turkish Journal of Surgery, 14:169-175.
  31. Erkan, E. P., Ströbel, T., Dorfer, C., Sonntagbauer, M., Weinhäusel, A., Saydam, N., & Saydam, O. (2019). Circulating Tumor Biomarkers in Meningiomas Reveal a Signature of Equilibrium Between Tumor Growth and Immune Modulation. Frontiers in Oncology, 9, 1031. PMID: 31649887 doi: 10.3389/fonc.2019.01031
  32. Harmati, M., Gyukity-Sebestyen, E., Dobra, G., Janovak, L., Dekany, I., Saydam, O., Hunyadi-Gulyas, E., Nagy, I., Farkas, A., Pankotai, T., Ujfaludi, Z., Horvath, P., Piccinini, F., Kovacs, M., Biro, T., & Buzas, K. (2019). Small Extracellular Vesicles Convey the Stress-Induced Adaptive Responses of Melanoma Cells. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 15329. PMID: 31653931 doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51778-6

Non-peer reviewed scientific or medical publications/materials in print or other media

  1. Erkan PE., and Saydam O. Extracellular vesicles as novel delivery tools for cancer treatment. Cancer Drug Delivery, In Press. Invited review
  2. Saydam O., Glauser DL, Fraefel C. 2012. Construction and Packaging of Herpes simplex Virus/Adeno-Associated Virus (HSV/AAV) Hybrid Amplicon Vectors Cold Spring Harb Protoc. Mar 1;2012(3).
  3. Mizrak A., Senol O. Ozdener G.B., and Saydam O. 2012. miRNA regulation of the Wnt signaling in meningiomas. In Tumors of The Central Nervous System Volume 7, pp 59-67 (Ed: Hayat MA). Springer.
  4. Madlener S. and Saydam O. 2012. miRNA regulation of schwannomas. In Tumors of The Central Nervous System (Ed: Hayat MA). Springer. Invited review
  5. Peerdeman S.M, Saydam O., Jimenez C.R. 2012. MENINGIOMAS: CLINICAL NEEDS AND MOLECULAR INSIGHTS. In Tumors of The Central Nervous System, Volume 7, pp 39-46 (Ed:HayatMA). Springer. Invited review
  6. Erkan EP, Breakefield XO, Saydam O. 2011. miRNA signature of schwannomas: possible role(s) of "tumor suppressor" miRNAs in benign tumors. Oncotarget. Mar;2(3):265-70. Invited review
  7. Glauser DL, Saydam O, Fraefel C. 2007. Parvovirus replication In: Recent Advances in DNA Virus Replication (Ed: Hefferon KL.). Research Signpost, Kerala, India.
  8. Saydam O, Glauser DL, Fraefel C. 2007. In: DNA Delivery/Gene Transfer Vector Lab Manual, Gene Delivery using HSV/AAV Hybrid Amplicon Vectors (Eds: Friedman T. and Rossi J.) Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, NY.
  9. Glauser DL, Ackermann M, Saydam O, Fraefel C. 2006. Chimeric herpes simplex virus/adeno associated virus amplicon vectors. Curr Gene Ther 3:315-24.

Oral Presentations

  1. “Herpes Simplex Virus, friend or foe?” (Keynote speaker) Swiss Society for Microbiology, Lausanne, Switzerland, March 7-8, 2006
  2. “MicroRNA-200a inhibits meningioma tumor growth,” Neurofibromatosis Conference on Genes to Complications to Treatments, Bonita Springs, Florida, June 6-10, 2008
  3. “From miRNAs to cancer proteome: The central nervous system tumors,” Heidelberg Institute for Stem Cell Technology and Experimental Medicine, Heidelberg, Germany, March 16, 2010
  4. “From miRNAs to cancer proteome: The central nervous system tumors,” University of Cologne, Institute for Genetics, Cologne, Germany, March 22, 2010
  5. “miRNA regulation of the central nervous system tumors,” Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, March 24, 2010
  6. “Molecular imaging of cancer biomarkers in the CNS tumors,” Institute of Virology, University of Zurich, May 20, 2011
  7. “miR-1289 and ZIP Code-like Sequence Enrich mRNAs in Microvesicles,” ISEV meeting, Gothenburg, Sweden, April 18, 2012
  8. Microvesicles as a novel tumor-monitoring tool in blood. Comprehensive Cancer center, Medical University of Vienna, 2013
  9. Microvesicles in Pediatric Brain Tumors. Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, 2013
  10. Translational Brain Tumor Studies: From Bench to Clinic. Institute of Neurological Sciences and Psychiatry, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, Dec 2, 2013
  11. Genetic monitoring of Brain Tumors in Blood. Harvard Medical School, Experimental Therapeutics and Molecular Imaging Lab, Aug 14, 2013
  12. Microvesciles in Blood Samples of Brain Tumor Patients. Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Neurogenetics Unit, Aug 19, 2013
  13. Liquid Biopsies: Diagnosis and Monitoring of Tumors in Blood. International Gazi Pharma Symposium Series (Chair, invited speaker), Antalya/Turkey, Nov. 12-15, 2015
  14. Liquid biopsies for brain tumors: Early-Detection, Stratification and Monitoring, Dokuz Eylul University Izmir Biomedicine and Genome Center (iBG-izmir), Izmir/Turkey, Feb 2, 2016
  15. Liquid biopsies for brain tumors: Early-Detection, Stratification and Monitoring, 10th Rostock Symposium, Rostock, Germany, Feb. 20, 2016