Dr Max PolyaK, Lead Veterinary Surgeon

Max Polyak. Portrait.
Dr Max Polyak, Lead Veterinary Surgeon

Max 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.

Max 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, Max 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 Max 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 US FDA to a sanctuary.

Dr Max has many years of experience in the sea turtle clinical and research worlds, 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. Max currently serves as the Medical Director of the Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance and is adjunct faculty at the University of Florida and Unity College.

Dr Max is widely published in the human and veterinary medical literature and focuses on a One Health One Ocean approach to translational sea turtle research. He is a Certified Aquatic Veterinarian by the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association and is Board-eligible as a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Welfare.

As the Lead Veterinary Surgeon for ORP, Dr Max oversees the charity’s veterinary team and clinical facilities as well as all rescue and rehabilitation aspects of ORP’s work.