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Mark Yorek, PhD


Dr. Mark Yorek, PhD, joined the VA in 1984 as an investigator. Currently Dr. Yorek holds the position of Associate Chief of Staff for Research and also serves as a board member for the Iowa City VA Medical Research Foundation (ICVARF). He was initially inspired to pursue a future with research because of his experience with high school science courses. Dr. Yorek states,

“My high school science teacher was excellent and stimulated my interest in science.”

Dr. Yorek says he is motivated to seek answers to important questions, specifically those related to complications caused by obesity and diabetes. His active research studies focus on discovering more about type 2 diabetes, prevention of nerve damage as a result of diabetes and complications resulting from type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Active Research

Pathology of Type 2 Diabetes

Prevention of Diabetic Neuropathy with ACE Inhibitors
The Role of Neutral Endopeptidase in Diabetic Neuropathy

The goal of Dr. Yorek’s current research is to determine how impaired blood vessel function impacts nerve damage resulting from diabetes (i.e. diabetic neuropathy).The research also seeks to identify what causes the impaired blood vessel function. Other research investigates ways to prevent nerve damage caused by obesity and type 2 diabetes by blocking the activity of specific enzymes in the body. Another study is looking at the effect of type 1 and type 2 diabetes on the nerves that affect vision. Dr. Yorek and fellow researchers are attempting to determine whether drug intervention can repair any nerve damage and blood vessel function.

Impact on Veterans

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are impact millions of people, including a large number of veterans. Current therapies to treat patients have not been as effective as hoped. They do not prevent the progression of the disease, which often leads to patients developing type 2 diabetes and other severe complications. These poor outcomes impact the quality of life of veteran patients and their families. The goal of Dr. Yorek’s studies is to ultimately discover more knowledge about obesity and diabetes to lead to effective prevention and treatment methods and therapies. Dr. Yorek says the most rewarding aspect of his job as an Associate Chief of Staff is helping investigators obtain funding to support their research to improve the quality of life for our veterans.