We all recognize that one measurement does not tell us who we are or what we can achieve; instead, they are helpful guideposts to tell us which direction we are traveling. The 2016-17 U.S. News & World Report rankings of hospitals and specialties in the country represents one such guidepost, which receives much attention. Their recognition that UIHC is the best hospital in the state of Iowa is gratifying and a tribute to the outstanding effort that thousands of people here make every day. I was also pleased to see many specialties housed in our department ranked or listed as “high-performing.” We should all congratulate our oncologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, geriatricians, and nephrologists for the work they do to achieve this recognition. In the coming weeks, our department will discuss the factors that are considered in these rankings and how to ensure that all of our members can better communicate their successes and excellence.
Part of communicating our successes is finding reputable and prestigious venues to disseminate the outcomes of our high-quality research. The recent publication by Dr. Chris Adams and Steve Bullard in the Journal of Biological Chemistry demonstrates the ways in which the Adams Lab continues to pull on the thread they have grasped. Previously, they had discovered that a particular chemical found in green tomatoes and apple peels could slow or reverse muscle atrophy in aging mice, in addition to the chemical’s potential for treating obesity. In an effort to better understand the mechanisms at work in muscle atrophy, members of the Adams Lab, in conjunction with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, have now identified several key components. One protein in particular, Gadd45a, appears to interact with other proteins and, when present in higher levels, triggers the atrophy process. As they isolate and identify the molecular mediators of this pathway, the possibility of developing therapeutics increases. The implications of these discoveries are of great significance given the burden that muscle loss plays in many illnesses and in the aging process.
Equally as important, though less headline-grabbing, is the daily commitment to treating our patients despite, at times, countervailing social pressures. The practice of our oaths and our dedication to science and reason are perhaps best exemplified in the HIV Clinic directed by Dr. Jack Stapleton, serving the diverse needs of patients with HIV/AIDS since its creation in 1988. The multidisciplinary clinic has grown to serve around 600 patients currently, and has adapted to rapid changes in treatment. To provide quality care in the face of a disease that affects a disproportionate number of socially disadvantaged persons, the clinic has skillfully organized a substantial amount of collaboration with a number of funding sources and social services. I encourage you to read more about the successes of the clinic and the challenges it has overcome.
Finally, this institution’s reputation for excellence can also be bolstered when we serve as ambassadors by taking national and visible positions. Dr. Denice Hodgson-Zingman is one of our most recent ambassadors to the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health. As of last month and continuing through June 2022, Dr. Hodgson-Zingman will be a member of the Clinical and Integrative Cardiovascular Sciences Study Section. She will review grant applications submitted to the NIH and, by maintaining an awareness of the current state of research in this specialty, her participation will factor into the recommendations to NIH advisory councils on which grants should be approved. Dr. Hodgson-Zingman’s service in this area is critical as we evaluate the most compelling science to support, and her invitation to serve reflects on her past contributions and current stature in the field. The Department is proud of her appointment and of her willingness to donate so much time and energy to this important activity.