E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, was named as one of the 120 newly elected members of the National Academy of Sciences last week. Abel is the William S. Adams Distinguished Professor of Medicine, chair, and executive medical director of the Department of Medicine in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Health, Los Angeles. In early November, he announced he was stepping down as chair and DEO of the Department of Internal Medicine at Iowa to take this new role.
NAS members are elected based on career-long achievements in research. It is widely considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. Since its founding in 1863, each member has committed to the academy’s mission of furthering science within the United States and engaging in the international community. They serve as arbiters on some of the most pressing scientific questions of the day, issuing papers and statements on everything from biotechnology and cloning to the impact of climate change on the planet and human health. Its journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is one of the most highly rated in the academic community and its peer-review one of the most rigorous.
Election to NAS came as “a pleasant surprise” to Abel, he said, though he credits his time at the University of Iowa for contributing to this achievement. “I want to acknowledge my colleagues at Iowa and the many trainees, undergraduates, medical students, and postdoctoral students I have had the good fortune to work with there over the years. The advances we made together only came about because of the environment that exists at the Carver College of Medicine and UI Health Care, which provides space for physician-scientists to pursue questions wherever they lead. My heartfelt thanks for the years of support and collegiality that have led to this moment.”
Only two other current faculty members of the University of Iowa have also been elected to NAS: Michael Welsh, MD, professor of internal medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine, and Kevin Campbell, PhD, professor of molecular biology and biophysics. Records indicate about a dozen UI faculty members have served on NAS in its nearly 160-year history.
Welsh said, of Abel’s election, “Election to the Academy is based on scientific accomplishment, and Dale’s research has excelled there, revealing how the heart meets its energy demands. His work has also shown us how diabetes, obesity, and heart failure disrupt this process. These fundamental discoveries by a superb physician-scientist have important implications for health and disease.”