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The man behind the Nobel

Carolina professor's groundbreaking research on DNA repair is impacting the health and survival of millions around the world.

About the same time Michael Jordan was sinking his national championship-winning jump shot in 1982, the groundwork was being laid for a different kind of major accomplishment at Carolina. Among those celebrating the Tar Heels’ triumph that year was Aziz Sancar, newly arrived professor in the UNC School of Medicine, who quickly fell in love with his new university, the Chapel Hill community and Carolina sports.

His main focus, of course, was science. His work on DNA repair was so groundbreaking that it earned him the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry – which he will receive in Stockholm, Sweden this week. He’s been a busy man since the announcement, including being honored at sporting events.

“We congratulate Dr. Sancar on his Nobel Prize for a scientific discovery of the highest order,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “His groundbreaking research on DNA repair is already impacting the health and survival of millions around the world.”

Sancar, whose childhood dream was to become the goalkeeper for the Turkish national soccer team, called his meeting of Carolina’s women’s soccer team one of the happiest moments of his life.

“I love all sports at Carolina, but soccer has been my true love,” Sancar said.

In this video, learn more about Aziz Sancar, the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics — beyond the research that earned him the top honor in science.