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DRC Director's Report - January 2022

It is with mixed emotions, but with a sense of great pride in our accomplishments that I write this my final Director’s report. When I came to the University of Iowa nearly 9-years ago, I was given a challenge to leverage the generous gift of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, to develop a world class diabetes research center. 

I reflected back on where things were at the University of Iowa in 2008, when the FOE began your campaign for the Diabetes Research Center and where they are now. In 2008, there were 5 faculty members identified as doing diabetes research with a total team of 20. We had 10 grants received and approximately $1M in funding from the National Institute of Health.

Now, 13 years later the FOEDRC houses 110 faculty members, greater than 1,000 researchers. Since that time we have received more than $375M in research funding from 780 grants and more than 1,600 published research articles. Many members of our team have received national and international recognition for their work. We have made important research breakthroughs ranging from the development of promising new approaches for treating diabetes, to increased understanding of how diabetes happens and what we can do to prevent it. 

As I move on, I hand the reins over to two distinguished and highly qualified colleagues, Dr. Andrew Norris and Kamal Rahmouni, who have agreed to serve as interim co-directors of the FOEDRC. 

Andy Norris, MD PhD, is a physician scientist and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Biochemistry. He serves as the Director of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, and holds a Richard O. Jacobson Foundation Chair in Pediatrics. His research involves translational studies related to the integrated physiology of diabetes across the lifespan, with recent focus on cystic fibrosis related diabetes and early life determinants of diabetes risk. He has served as Associate Director of the FOEDRC since 2014. Andy has provided steady leadership within the FOEDRC since its inception. He was instrumental in setting up euglycemic clamps in our Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Core, he has led our Chalk Talk series which has provided invaluable grant mentorship to entire FOEDRC Community. Andy served with me as Co-PI of our Diabetes Center Training grant, which will be renewed for funding for an additional 5 years. 

Kamal Rahmouni is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience & Pharmacology and Internal Medicine. He also holds the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Center Research Endowed Chair and serves as Co-Director of the Obesity Research and Education Initiative. His research seeks to understand the fundamental processes involved in the control of energy homeostasis in health and disease. His work has led to the identification of novel mechanisms that underlie obesity and associated disorders including type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Kamal has been the recipient of the 2016 Paul Korner Award by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) and the 2015 Mid-Career Award for Research Excellence from the Council of Hypertension from the American Heart Association. He is a co-PI on the Nephrology and Hypertension Training Grant and the Training Director of the American Heart Association Strategic Focused Research Network Award to the University of Iowa on cardiometabolic disease. 

Kamal and Andy have mentored many trainees and faculty within the FOEDRC and are very qualified to continue the current trajectory of the Diabetes Center. I am confident that they will provide strong and steady leadership as long as needed, while a search for a new permanent director is conducted. The FOEDRC is strong and our current trajectory predicts a bright future. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as Director of the FOEDRC and thank you for the generosity of the FOE to being us to this point. I look forward to serving as a senior advisor in the years ahead.

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The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international nonprofit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.

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