Research, diversity, and immunology

During this month of transition, we have focused quite a bit on our education mission, but research within the Department of Internal Medicine never slows down. This last month has seen a number of compelling research stories come to light that reflect the diversity of research that is being conducted within our Department. These include publications from Dr. Aaron Scherer, Dr. Sue Bodine, and from our colleagues in the Pulmonary Division describing a potential therapeutic advance in gene therapy approaches for treating cystic fibrosis. We have also seen a new funding award earned by Drs. Charles Brenner, Kaiko Irani, and Barry London, which extends the long tradition of excellence in cardiovascular research, and a strong example of inter-departmental collaboration. This list is only a handful of recent successes; we will have more funding news soon. In the meantime, I would encourage you to visit the research portal of our department’s website to see additional publications and recent funding awards. As we celebrate our success, I also acknowledge that we are part of a larger institutional research effort which also has reached impressive new milestones.

Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in our community and the state knows that it is more diverse than may be widely perceived. Diversity and inclusion is a core value that we embrace and that informs all of our missions. The importance of continuously evaluating our approach to those who might be different from us should inform our interactions with those that we teach and mentor and of course the patients that we treat. Identifying unique and individual needs of our patients, coupled with increasing insight of our own unconscious biases represent important perspectives that we should embrace. These important challenges among others were addressed by the Culturally Responsive Healthcare in Iowa conference late last spring. This annual conference features members of our department working in concert with representatives from the Colleges of Nursing and of Public Health to address issues of importance to the increasingly diverse community of those that we treat in our medical center. My gratitude to Drs. Lama Nourredine and Poorani Sekar for their involvement in such an essential event. On a related note, I would like to invite our department faculty and staff to attend the remaining focus group on August 7 that the hospital is holding to gain insights into identifying culturally appropriate products for our diverse patient population.

As we settle into the last half of 2019, we have also resumed the updates from our division directors on the activities within their divisions, which we will complete before the end of the year. Given the amount of self-reflection we have done this year, I trust that it is not too much of an additional burden on them or their teams to assemble these public-facing reports. As such, I appreciate the time they have taken to distill and synthesize this information into an engaging post. Our latest division update comes from Dr. Scott Vogelgesang, director of the Division of Immunology. Covering allergy/immunology and rheumatology, the clinicians and researchers in this division tackle some of the most complex and difficult-to-diagnose cases seen at our institution. Their footprint in our Medical Specialties Clinic and their commitment to educating learners at all levels are both worth celebrating.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone in the department that Suresh Gunasekaran, the relatively new CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, will attend a Q&A session on Monday, July 22, from 5 to 6 pm, in the Medical Alumni Auditorium. I hope you will attend with issues and questions of concern.

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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