The Research Engine

We continue to show the larger scientific community just what the University of Iowa can do when it comes to our research mission. A report from the UI Office of Research & Economic Development found that while most institutions have seen reductions in their total external funding portfolios for research and scholarship, Iowa’s funding totals have increased. This news is not without storm clouds however, as the proportion of funding from federal sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, has declined and continues to become increasingly competitive. As such, the Department of Internal Medicine is redoubling its commitment to working closely with and supporting our investigators to support their discoveries and increase their ability to succeed in garnering extramural funding. We also are grateful for the important role that University offices such as the UI Foundation and the Office for Research Development play in offering ongoing support and advice.

Tangible results of our hard work are always evident in high-impact publications in leading peer-reviewed journals, and increasingly our department’s discoveries gain greater exposure in the public sphere with extensive media coverage. For example, discussion of Dr. Richard Hoffman’s publication in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on decision-making in prostate cancer treatment appeared in MedPage Today. Dr. Helena Laroche summarized her work with a local Iowa community to examine the effects of offering healthier concessions at athletic events for a publication produced by the CDC’s Prevention Research Center. Iowa Public Radio aired a piece discussing Dr. Michael Ohl’s and the Signal Center’s efforts to reach rural veterans at risk of contracting HIV with TelePrEP. The clinical trial on the impact certain diets have on multiple sclerosis symptoms that Dr. Terry Wahls is currently running was covered in Healthline News. Communicating what we do to the general public will be critical as we work to increase public awareness and support for national efforts that sustain our research mission.

It is, of course, still important to celebrate and promote our incredible discoveries even if they do not necessarily make it on the evening news. In just the last couple weeks, Dr. Phil Polgreen, in a multi-departmental study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, found an association between surgical site infections and changes in seasonal temperatures. Working with researchers at the University of Toledo, Dr. Mike Welsh published an article in eLife, which discovered a new mechanism by which reactions to painful memories in mice can be minimized, with important implications for our understanding of PTSD. Dr. Rajan Sah has discovered a possible over-the-counter treatment for cachexia found in fresh thyme and oregano. This is nowhere near a complete list, and the Department will continue to use multiple channels to highlight the research achievements and innovations of our faculty. I am continually impressed with the breadth and scope of our inquiries and achievements, and I am always eager to learn of your successes.

One way that we stay in the vanguard of discovery is by recruiting the very best scientists to join us here in Iowa City. In the coming weeks, the department will introduce new faculty members who have started this month, but as an endocrinologist myself, I am particularly pleased that Sue Bodine, PhD, has accepted a position as a Professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dr. Bodine joins us from UC-Davis. Her work is in neuromuscular physiology, particularly as it relates to skeletal muscle size and atrophy in a variety of conditions such as aging and diabetes. Understanding how skeletal muscle responds to exercise, inactivity, and age is of great interest and will enhance collaborations with an increasing number of investigators here at Iowa who are working at the cutting edge of the interface of muscle function, biology, and metabolism. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Applied Physiology. We welcome Dr. Bodine to our team and look forward to her contributions.

Finally, research without exposure, without collaboration and review of our colleagues, is simply incomplete. I encourage you to attend our back-from-hiatus Research Seminar Series on Tuesday, August 1, to learn about—and participate in—research in progress. (You can read about the experience of presenters from earlier this year here.) I also encourage you to attend our Internal Medicine Grand Rounds every Thursday at noon in Medical Alumni Auditorium. Over the next few months, each Division Director will present an overview of the great variety of activity occurring within each group, in what we believe will be an engaging format. Next week, July 27, on behalf of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, my colleague Dr. Amal Shibli-Rahhal and I, will go first. I hope to see you there.

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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