E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, chair and departmental executive officer (DEO) of the University of Iowa Department of Internal Medicine, has announced that he will leave his role at Iowa at the end of the year to join the University of California, Los Angeles.
Abel, who also is director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at Iowa, will become chair of the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also will serve as executive medical director for the Department of Medicine in the UCLA Health System.
“To say Dr. Abel has made an impact on UI Health Care would be a major understatement,” says Brooks Jackson, MD, MBA, UI vice president for medical affairs and the Tyrone D. Artz Dean of the Carver College of Medicine. “He has played such an important part in our growth and success in recent years, not only in terms of patient care revenue and external research funding, but also in areas such as faculty recruitment, training and mentorship, and service to national organizations as a representative of UI Health Care and the University of Iowa. He’s also maintained his own highly productive research program and helped raise Iowa’s national profile in diabetes research. He’s been a great asset to our institution, and we wish him the best in his new role.”
Abel joined the UI in 2013 as director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center and director Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Department of Internal Medicine. In 2016, Abel became chair of the department.
During his tenure, Abel’s impact has been transformative, particularly in the realm of research, where he reversed a trend of contraction and oversaw an increase in federal and non-federal grants awarded to Department of Internal Medicine faculty, from $58 million in 2015 to $84 million by the end of fiscal year 2021—an increase of 31%. Similar double-digit increases could be seen in the department’s overall revenue, from $130 million in 2016 to more than $168 million in fiscal year 2021—a nearly 23% increase.
Abel also led a sustained recruitment drive for new faculty, increasing the department’s census by 16%, from 357 faculty members in 2016 to 427 by 2021. Supported by a lean administrative team and an effort to increase efficiency, Department of Internal Medicine faculty increased the department’s clinical RVUs (relative value units, a measure of value used in the Medicare reimbursement formula for physician services) by 24%, from more than 690,000 in fiscal year 2016 to approximately 902,000 in fiscal year 2021.
During this same period, Abel raised the profile of the department and the UI through service as president of the Endocrine Society, election to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Clinical and Climatological Association, and his current role as president of the Association of Professors of Medicine, among many other national and international organizational memberships.
Diabetes research and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center remained a priority for Abel as he retained the directorship that brought him to Iowa. From its initial five members, 110 faculty members are counted among its ranks today; more than 780 grants have funded over 1,000 researchers over the years, compared to just 20 researchers on 10 grants in the center’s first year. As director, Abel successfully recruited 16 new investigators, secured a new T32 training grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and oversaw growth of National Institutes of Health-funded research to $23.4 million in fiscal year 2020.
Details about interim appointments for the positions of chair/DEO of the Department of Internal Medicine and director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center will be shared at a later date.