In Yale University, he made research on another DNA repair enzyme called ‘excinuclease’ (1977-82). He was appointed as an associate professor to the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of North Carolina (1977). As a Sarah Graham Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Department of Biochemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aziz Sancar continues his scientific research on DNA repair, cell cycle checkpoints, crypto-chrome and the circadian clock.
Aziz Sancar has fellowships in the Third World Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy for Microbiology, the Turkish Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences in the USA. Furthermore, he co-founded the Aziz and Gwen Sancar Foundation (Carolina Turkish House), dedicated to uphold the Turkish culture and sustain the Turkish students in the United States.
Having published 279 research articles and 32 book chapters, Sancar was granted the Presidential Young Investigator Award (USA), the American Society for Photobiology Research Award, the Turkish Scientific and Technical Council (TUBITAK) Scientific Achievement Award, and the North Carolina Distinguished Chemist Award. Finally, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015, along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul L. Modrich, for his studies on DNA repair.
Having been honored with the medal of "Caveliere di Lavora" by Italy for her contributions and services to Turkish-Italian relations (2006), Zeynep Bodur Okyay has also been decorated with the high-level order of “Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana” (2014). Thanks to her contributions to the relations between Turkey and EU Member States, she was granted the Franco Nobili Award (2010). In the same year, she was extended by the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) an “Outstanding Service Medal”.