David Yurek, PhD
Professor, Department of Neurosurgery at University of Kentucky College of Medicine
David Yurek, PhD, received his Bachelor's degree in Psychology & Biology in 1980, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physiology and Biophysics in 1987, both from the University of Southern California. He completed postdoctoral studies at the University of Rochester in 1990. Dr. Yurek's laboratory is interested in studying the use of viral and non-viral gene therapy techniques (adeno-associated or lentiviral vectors) as a means to transduce host neurons and induce transgene expression of neurotrophic factors with the goal of improving the "neurotrophic environment" at the target site of implanted cells.
The lab is performing collaborative studies with scientists at Copernicus Therapeutics, Inc. (Cleveland, OH), to determine whether DNA plasmids can be condensed into synthetic nanoparticles and used as a non-viral gene therapy to transduce cells in the central nervous system. These studies use a technology developed by scientists at Copernicus to determine whether nanoparticles can be used as a delivery system to insert genes into brain cells that may be beneficial to their survival, particularly during neurodegenerative events. Dr. Yurek has been the recipient of numerous honrs and awards including the National Science Research Award, 1983; AARP Woodrow Taylor Scholarship, 1985; United Parkinson Fellowship, 1990; Wethington Research Excellence Award (University of Kentucky) in 2004 and 2006.