An important aspect of our work in the Department of Internal Medicine is to find ways to collaborate with our colleagues both within the walls of the institution as well as those outside them. This, in part, is why our Continuing Medical Education programs are so critical. Recently, the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism invited health care providers from across the state to attend the Advances in Diabetes and Obesity Management conference. The attendees I spoke with were pleased by the level of expertise and the information covered throughout the day, and look forward to additional collaborations with the Department in the future. This post has a longer discussion of what was covered as well as photos from the event.
Another way in which we advance the missions of the University of Iowa is to support and encourage faculty development to prepare the future generation of leaders in Academic Medicine. To this end, I am pleased to share that Dr. Isabella Grumbach, Vice Chair for Research, has been accepted as a Fellow in next year’s class of the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women at Drexel University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Grumbach will participate in this year-long fellowship designed to refine and develop skills necessary for guiding teams through the challenges in our dynamic health care environment, with particular attention to issues faced by women in leadership positions. I anticipate that this experience will strengthen the already strong contributions that Dr. Grumbach is making to our Department.
The Institute for Clinical & Translational Science (ICTS) has awarded a grant to Dr. Ferhaan Ahmad, Director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Program, and a team of researchers from three Divisions: Cardiovascular Medicine; Infectious Diseases; and Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine. The ICTS Ix Pilot Grant Program is intended to foster interdisciplinary teams that synergize their diverse perspectives to bring novel impacts and solutions to important clinical research problems. Dr. Ahmad and his collaborators—Drs. Alejandro Comellas, Barry London, Phil Polgreen, and David Stoltz—will examine a genetic mutation that results in cystic fibrosis but has also been observed expressed in cardiomyocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. Variants of this mutation may represent a common genetic modifier of heart failure outcomes. Integrating basic, clinical, and population science and working with the Department of Epidemiology, they hope to determine whether this particular genetic variant is associated with subclinical cardiac, pulmonary, or vascular dysfunction. I am excited to see this innovative team form and hope that their success inspires even more cross-divisional and inter-departmental research.
Congratulations to Dr. Rajan Sah, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine for receiving an RO1 grant for $2.06 million from the National Institutes of Health entitled: “Tuning fat cell size and obesity through SWELL1.” Dr. Sah’s proposal seeks to address a fundamental question that impacts our understanding of the obesity epidemic namely: What are the mechanisms engineered into the fat cell (adipocyte) that permits its remarkable ability to expand by up to 30 times its original size? His project will determine if there are cellular “stretch” sensors active within the adipocyte to respond to such massive changes in cell size. Answering these questions will shed new light on the basic biology of fat storage, the pathophysiology of obesity, and will potentially identify novel therapeutic targets for the prevention of obesity and associated diseases such as diabetes.
Finally, I want to offer my sincere gratitude to every single member of this Department for all you do to make us so successful. It is not always possible for me to reach each of you individually, so I appreciate the efforts of our Human Resources team in planning and organizing the 10th anniversary of Employee Appreciation Day. (For a photo gallery from Employee Appreciation Day, read this post.) It is a chance for this Department to take a moment and marvel at our size, breadth of experience, and diversity of background. Each of you functions with professionalism, brilliance, and unselfish commitment that contribute to making our Department great. Thank you.