E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, will be honored with the inaugural Network of Minority Health Research Investigators (NMRI) Medallion from the NMRI for his years of significant service and contribution to the network. He will receive the NMRI Medallion at the network’s annual meeting to be held in April 2017.
The NMRI—established by the Office of Minority Health Research Coordination at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)—acts as a communication network of current and potential biomedical research investigators interested in minority health research, and individuals from traditionally underserved communities, who conduct research within the scientific purview of the NIDDK.
Abel, who serves as chair and DEO of the UI Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, has been involved with the network since its inception in 1996.
“I’m honored to receive this award as this group reflects my strong interest in mentoring, but also addresses the need to create opportunities to address diversity within academia,” says Abel.
The network taps into the expertise of successful, well-established investigators to provide guidance to early-career investigators, using structured mentorship and workshops. This can include skills in grant writing, networking, establishing research programs, negotiating, responding to rejected funding proposals, and navigating transcultural interactions.
“As individuals who are historically underrepresented in these fields begin to advance in their careers, they may work with colleagues who have vastly different backgrounds from them,” says Abel. “It becomes critical to have individuals who have successfully navigated ahead of them to share their skills, strategies, and insights.”
Throughout his 15-year contribution to the NMRI, Abel has been actively involved as a mentor for numerous individuals, as well as running programs for the network and serving on oversight committees to plan workshop content.
He has also utilized the NRMI to impact a mentoring program he coordinates through the Endocrine Society for individuals from historically under-represented backgrounds finishing postdoctoral and graduate degrees. Abel takes investigators who were successful mentees in the NRMI and turns them into mentors for the Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology.
“Mentoring does require a substantial time investment, but it has tremendous rewards, especially when you watch someone you’ve mentored succeed,” says Abel. “The concept of paying it forward and reinvesting in the next generation is paramount to a sustained and vibrant academic research community.”