Originally planned as a holiday party, members of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism saw rising COVID-19 infection rates in Johnson County and decided that their planned maskless meal together should be adapted. Not wanting to waste the reservation at the Iowa Memorial Union Sun Room, organizers requested the meals be prepared in individualized to-go boxes for the end of the much-briefer evening.
As part of the revision, Division Director Ayotunde Dokun, MD, PhD, asked a few members if they would prepare a few words to honor one of their members who was about to leave. Dokun kept the change in plans secret from E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, outgoing Chair and DEO of the department and endocrinologist in the division. In November it was announced that Abel would step down as Chair of Internal Medicine at Iowa and become Chair of the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, effective January 1.
A few dozen clinicians, researchers, and trainees from the division were entertained by a cross-section of speakers, each detailing what Abel has meant to them. Mark Yorek, PhD, and William Sivitz, MD, each discussed how transformative Abel had been for the research and clinical missions and how glad they were he was recruited to lead the division and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. Many of the rest of the speakers–including Marcelo Corrreia MD, MSc, PhD; Renata Pereira Alambert, PhD; Yumi Imai, MD; Brian O’Neill, PhD; Sue Bodine, PhD–had all been recruited to the department and division by Abel and talked about what his interest and mentorship had meant to their careers.
Then it was Abel’s turn to address the guests. He expressed his appreciation for everyone’s kind words and described his recruitment to Iowa to lead this division and the research center. He cited individuals in the room who made the case for Iowa to him and then eased his transition like Janet Schlechte, MD, who provided strong support in the clinical operations of the division. He also thanked Dokun for his leadership of the division and the growth he and other members had overseen in the years since Dokun became director. Abel was confident, he said, that the years to come would continue to be among the division’s best.
Dokun presented Abel with a couple tokens of the division’s appreciation. A few careful and quick group photos and some speedy farewells later and the attendees went their separate ways. Though the evening had been brief, the message and the meaning had been clear: The division was grateful and would miss Abel greatly.
Our Design Center Digital Media Services team has produced this highlight reel of mobile phone video shot of some of the speeches.