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Episode #113 Interview with Toby Yak, PhD, MPH, Substance Abuse Prevention Epidemiologist



Learn About Substance Abuse Prevention With Toby Yak


Dr. Toby Yak is a professional epidemiologist with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Division of Behavioral Health. Learn about how his passion for the prevention of youth substance abuse and how the dangers of underage drinking inspired his journey.


About Tony Yak, PhD, MPH


Toby V. Yak, PhD, MPH is an epidemiologist with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Division

of Behavioral Health. Dr. Yak joined the Iowa Department of Public Health in 2013 as a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Prevention Fellow. He assumed the epidemiologist position in July 2014. In his current role, Dr. Yak provides epidemiological and data analysis support for substance abuse and problem gambling prevention and treatment, and for the Disability, Injury and Violence Prevention program.


He has a combined 16 years of experience in biomedical, evidence-based public health practice, and research. Dr. Yak earned a Bachelor of Science degree from North Dakota State University and a Master of Public Health degree and PhD in Public Health from Walden University. He is a lifelong learner and enjoys teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. Currently, Dr. Yak is a part-time Assistant Professor with Des Moines University. Dr. Yak previously taught at both the University of Roehampton – London Online and Rasmussen College. As an epidemiologist with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Dr. Yak’s focus is to help reduce the risk and occurrence of adverse health outcomes due to substance use and injuries in Iowa, through the use of sound epidemiological principles, education, and evidence-based approaches.


Get Prepared For A Public Health Career With A Fellow Program


Dr. Yak became interested in public health as a career in 2011, which led him to becoming a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Prevention Fellow. That allowed him to transition into his current role as an epidemiologist. He is most passionate about youth substance abuse prevention, traumatic brain injury, binge drinking, and underage drinking.


Advice From Dr. Yak - Get Involved In Public Health Right Away


For Public Health Students:

  • Current public health students need to get a B.S. in public health or related health sciences.

  • Talk to current public health professionals.

  • Gain experience in public health.


For Public Health Graduates:

  • Plan to get an MPH.

  • Gain experience in public health.

  • Become a member of a professional public health organization.

  • Build a strong resume.

Get In Contact With Dr. Toby Yak


Email Toby


Connect on LinkedIn with Dr. Yak.



Action Steps


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