A Conversation with Dr Volkan Yumuk

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Professor Volkan Demirhan Yumuk graduated from Hacettepe University Medical School in Ankara and served as a general practitioner in a central Anatolian village for two years. He completed his internal medicine residency in a state teaching hospital in Istanbul in 1992, and started to work in the Division of Diabetes and Metabolism at Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty. In 1994 he went through a six month research fellowship program in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at University of Michigan School of Medicine, studying pancreatic islet isolation techniques in rats. In 1997 he completed the clinical endocrinology fellowship program in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at University of Alabama School of Medicine. He became an associate professor in 1998 and a full professor of medicine in 2006. He is currently a faculty member in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty. Volkan Yumuk’s research area is obesity and his major clinical interest is prevention and management of obesity and type 2 diabetes. He has published many papers in national and international journals, and authored chapters in books in the field of endocrinology. He is a founding member and current president of the Turkish Association for the Study of Obesity; he is a member of the executive committee for the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) and is currently chairing the Obesity Management Task Force of EASO. He has chaired the 18th European Congress on Obesity in Istanbul in 2011. He became a fellow of American College of Physicians in 2001 and a fellow of American College of Endocrinology in 2006. He is been elected as a SCOPE (Specialist Certification of Obesity Professional Education) European Fellow in 2007. He is a reviewer for Obesity, International Journal of Obesity, Obesity Reviews, Obesity Facts, Maturitas, Hormones and Turkish Archives of Cardiology. 

Dr. Yumuk, please tell us a bit about yourself; where are you from, where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Istanbul. I now live in the same glamorous city and my residence is here in Asia Minor; my work place is in Europe proper.

Our readers would enjoy learning about your favourite activities, hobbies, and interests outside of your professional work.

Photography has been one of my favorite activities since graduation from medical school. Many of the pictures taken during my compulsory medical service in a central Anatolian village are among my dearest treasures. Philately, the study of stamps, postal history and related items, is another area in which I was very active in the past; I intend to re-engage with it soon.

Professor Yumuk, you have long had a distinguished career in obesity and  diabetes medicine. Please tell our readers how you came to focus on metabolic medicine: 

In my opinion metabolic medicine forms the basis of life. As a clinical endocrinologist I see metabolic medicine as the ideal way to interact with almost all of the functional systems of the body. As obesity is a gateway to other diseases, increasing rates of morbidity and mortality among the general population has attracted my interest in this area for many years. Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty Obesity Clinic was a unique facility in Turkey treating obese patients in the early 80’s, even though at the time obesity was a neglected field in most of the world. This very clinic is today very proud to be an obesity center within the COM network.

In addition to being a member of the EASO Executive Council, you have chaired the EASO Obesity Management Task Force (OMTF). Can you tell us about some recent policies and achievements of OMTF under your watch?

This is now my fifth year as chairman of the OMTF. OMTF is one of the most prestigious task forces within EASO where one finds the top obesity experts in Europe. All together as a task force and/or within small working groups, several sets of guidelines and position statements have been developed, produced and  published in the journal Obesity Facts/ Obesity Surgery. Multidisciplinary management of obesity and its realated disorders have been emphasized in most of our manuscripts. Joint papers with the European Society of Hypertension have appeared in European Journal of Hypertension. Medico-surgical joint meetings have developed an important movement toward collaboration with bariatric surgeons, which has taken place under my watch as chair. Working together with the other EASO task forces has led to development of joint meetings and manuscripts. OMTF has been a devoted supporter of and has successfully developed and implemented new obesity teaching resources. Eleven OMTF teaching courses have been programmed so far, five during recent European Obesity Congresses (ECOs). Collaborating Centers for Obesity Management networks flourished during my watch and now we are 66 centers all across Europe. This network aims to standardize obesity care, promoting teaching and research.

What are your present interests in the field?

A joint study run by internal medicine and psychiatry is presently dealing with obesity as the link between night-time eating and metabolic syndrome.  Another study is still running and is testing results of a novel metabolic surgery technique in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Preliminary results of this study will appear in Obesity Surgery soon. In addition to the research interests mentioned above, as the president of the Turkish Obesity Association and the chair of OMTF and an EC member, I would like to be involved in supporting development of influential policies and discussing and sharing them with relavent NGOs and governmental organizations at the national and European levels. Elevating the voice of NGOs on firm grounds is necessary for accomplishing important goals.

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