The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center is proud to announce the appointment of E. Dale Abel, M.D., D.Phil, as the new director of the F.O.E. Diabetes Research Center at the University of Iowa. Dr. Abel will hold the John B. Stokes III Chair and will begin serving in his role as director June 30.
Since 2008, the Eagles has contributed $19 million toward finding a cure for diabetes. The DRC, which occupy the second floor of the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building on the campus of the University of Iowa, is already making significant breakthroughs in diabetes research. The F.O.E. is excited to welcome Dr. Abel as the leader of our charge to end diabetes once and for all.
Dr. Abel is currently the chief of the Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes division at the University of Utah School of Medicine, where he has been on faculty as a professor of medicine and biochemistry since 2000.
His research interests include investigating mechanisms underlying diabetes, metabolism and diabetic heart disease. Prior to joining the University of Utah, Abel received his medical degree with distinction from the University of the West Indies, and then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree. He completed his medical training at Northwestern University, where he served as chief medical resident before moving on to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at the Harvard Medical School.
“Diabetes affects more than 26 million people. Finding a cure means we must populate our world-class facilities with the best research talent in the US and the world.” says Deb Schwinn, dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine. “I am very impressed by Dr. Abel’s background and experience and know he is the perfect fit to lead our diabetes research center.”
The partnership between the Eagles and the University of Iowa is already fostering new discoveries that may one day lead to new treatments and maybe even prevention of diabetes. The announcement of Dr. Abel’s leadership is an important milestone in the continued substantial growth for one of the world’s preeminent research centers.
“Dr. Abel has a proven track record of high achievement and his appointment to this leadership position comes at a critical moment as we seek new and innovative approaches for diabetes research,” says Dr. Jean Robillard, vice president for medical affairs for the University of Iowa. “From 1980 to 2010, the number of people with diabetes has more than tripled. Together, we must stem the tide. I am confident that Dr. Abel’s multidisciplinary approach to research will help us move quickly toward improved treatments and eventually prevention of this devastating disease.”
For the latest news and information regarding The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, keep posted to our Members-Only website.
A condensed version of this story was shared in the March 2013 edition of Soar.
Shirley Rose was at ease atop her University of Michigan hospital bed awaiting the kidney transplant which would bring an end to more than two years of pain and suffering. The next morning, Charlene Merritt lay atop a similar bed awaiting the surgical procedure that would create an unbreakable bond with a sister in need.
Recently relocated to Clare, Mich., Rose, 63, and her husband, Terry, were searching for a way to build relationships to make their new place of residence feel a little more like home. The Rose’s found the outlet they were looking for in December of 2011, when they joined Clare Eagles #3977.
The daily aches and pains typical of kidney failure coupled with the effects of harsh dialysis continued to limit Shirley’s ability to live a comfortable life, but her faith provided the strength to keep pushing on. One night at the Aerie, she opened up to a fellow sister about her condition, explaining her need for a donor.
Merritt had joined the Eagles less than a year before, after a relative’s wedding reception in the Clare banquet hall opened her eyes to the F.O.E.’s extensive history of charitable work. She did not know Rose personally, but couldn’t help but feel for her as Rose’s story was told from across the room.
Having recently lost a brother-in-law to leukemia, Merritt was feeling guilt as a result of not being tested as a potential bone marrow match. Rose’s story long resonated within the now 44-year-old mother. After considerable thought and prayer, Merritt made a decision that would forever bond two lives.
“I was at the New Year’s Eve party at the Eagles enjoying my evening with friends,” Rose said. “Suddenly, I was on the dance floor and Charlene was telling me she would like to be my donor. I had to pinch myself several times to see if it was a dream.”
For two years, Rose relied on her unwavering faith to help her through the dialysis treatments and retain hope of eventually finding a perfect match. She and Merritt soon traveled to the University of Michigan Transplant Center to determine whether they were compatible for a living kidney donation.
“I wasn’t a match,” Merritt said. “It was hard to hear at first, but we didn’t let it discourage us. The University of Michigan was really informative with another program they had and offered us the chance to take part.”
Michigan’s Paired Kidney Donation Program allowed Rose to receive the kidney she needed so long as someone was willing to donate theirs in return. Merritt was that someone. Each faced a battery of tests in the months that followed, requiring several costly trips to Ann Arbor.
Brothers and sisters at Clare #3977 held a benefit for Rose and Merritt, splitting gas cards and cash between the two to help offset the cost associated with frequent out-of-town doctor’s visits.
“They’re like our second family,” Merritt said. “The Aerie made me their Mother of the Year. It was such an honor to have my picture up on the wall just for doing what I felt was the right thing to do. That’s how I was brought up. It’s the kind of person I am.”
“Everybody in the club was supportive and reassuring that everything would be alright,” Rose said. “There was no negativity at all. The whole process of finding the right donor kidney requires tremendous patience and they were there every step of the way.”
In early September of 2012, they received the call they had been waiting for. On the 12th, Rose would receive her new kidney. The next morning, Merritt would give hers away to help a friend in need.
Unlike the path to surgery, the road to recovery was void of any hurdles. Both Rose and Merritt emerged from the experience in great health. Merritt’s sacrifice leaves her with only the standard responsibility of taking great care of herself, drinking more water and avoiding ibuprofen to maintain optimal function in her remaining kidney. Doctor’s visits for Rose are down to just once every three months with weekly blood tests in Clare to monitor levels.
“My neck used to kill me,” she said. “I haven’t had neck aches or aches and pains anywhere since I received my new kidney. I’m 100% again.”
The experience has turned both into vocal advocates for organ donation awareness. Many, as Rose and Merritt were, are unaware of options such as Michigan’s Paired Kidney Donation program and the ability to help those in need despite not being a perfect match.
“My youngest daughter Sarah went with me when I had my surgery,” Merritt said. “Someone asked what she thought of her mom doing this and she said ‘One day, I hope I can be that kind of person.’ If I can have that kind of impact on a child, hopefully I can bring more light to the issue for people of all ages.”
For at least one Aerie and Auxiliary in the state of Michigan, that light now shines brighter than ever. Inside their walls are two women for whom “People Helping People” is not just a motto, but a key to a new life.
“I couldn’t get out of bed,” Rose said. “I could only drink 32 ounces of liquid a day. I needed a kidney and god gave me a second chance at life. Charlene’s an amazing lady. I may not have her kidney, but as far as I’m concerned, she’ll always be my donor.”