STRA’s Medical Director
Dr. Polyak was born and raised in coastal Southern California, where he grew up surrounded by ocean life and cultivated a life-long passion for marine conservation. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California and graduate school at Cambridge University.
Dr. Polyak then went on to pursue veterinary school at the University of Florida, where he undertook extensive post-graduate training in Aquatic Animal Medicine. He has practiced and taught marine animal medicine and conservation in Costa Rica, Belize, Thailand, Ecuador, and Mexico. Prior to veterinary school, Dr. Polyak founded a biotech company focused on developing novel advances in organ transplantation. This led to the invention and approval of the world’s first artificial life support system for organs awaiting transplant.
More recently, Dr. Polyak served as the Medical Director of Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, the largest new world monkey sanctuary in North America. Here, he was responsible for the transfer and care of the ‘FDA Boys’, the very first animals of any species retired by the FDA to a sanctuary.
Dr. Polyak has many years of experience in the sea turtle medical and research world, serving as the founding veterinarian and trustee of the Sea Turtle Hospital at the University of Florida and most recently as the Director of Rehabilitation at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, where he guided the expansion of the new hospital into the largest of its kind in the world. Dr. Polyak currently serves on the Steering Committee and is a Medical Director at the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance and as well as a Scientific Advisor at the Olive Ridley Project. In is spare time, Dr. Polyak enjoys yoga, surfing and beach tennis.