Endocrinologist, mentor appointed UCLA Department of Medicine chair

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

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E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, a distinguished endocrinologist with a lengthy record as a researcher and clinician and as a mentor to young scientists, has been appointed chair of the Department of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and executive medical director of the UCLA Health System’s Department of Medicine.

Dr. Abel, currently chair and executive officer of the Department of Internal Medicine and professor of medicine, biochemistry and biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa, will assume leadership of UCLA Health’s largest department on Jan. 1, 2022.

“I am proud of my contributions to the University of Iowa and thrilled to be joining UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, a leading academic health system that provides exceptional patient care, supports innovative research and trains top medical professionals, all in service to a vibrant metropolis and our larger world,” Dr. Abel said.

Under Dr. Abel’s leadership as department chair over the past six years, research funding rose 31%, clinical revenues increased nearly 23% and the number of faculty jumped 16%. In addition, the department’s residency program remained nationally ranked under his watch.

During his eight-year tenure as director of Iowa’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, Dr. Abel grew faculty membership from an initial five to 110 today. More than 780 research grants were secured, and NIH-funded research rose to $23.4 million last year.

Communications to build a sense of community, provide strategic direction and address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion were a central focus of his work at Iowa, including a biweekly “Views from the Chair.”

Dr. Abel’s research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995, with additional support from the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and others. His pioneering work on glucose transport and mitochondrial metabolism in the heart guided his research interest in molecular mechanisms responsible for cardiovascular complications of diabetes. Dr. Abel’s laboratory has provided important insights into the contribution of mitochondrial dysfunction and aberrant insulin signaling to heart failure risk in diabetes.

“Dr. Abel’s accomplishments as a scientist, clinician, teacher, leader and administrator speak for themselves,” said John Mazziotta, MD, PhD, vice chancellor of UCLA health sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “Put simply, Dr. Abel embodies our values, embraces our mission and has long been committed to excellence and equity.”

Prior to the University of Iowa, Dr. Abel held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and at the University of Utah.

Among other honors for scholarship, scientific and academic achievement, Dr. Abel is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is also current president of the Association of Professors of Medicine.

In addition, Dr. Abel has been recognized for a longstanding commitment to mentoring the next generation of endocrine researchers and biomedical scientists. He has served as the program chair for the annual Network of Minority Investigators workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders to increase the success of minority biomedical researchers.  Since 2012, he has been a principal investigator for the Endocrine Society’s FLARE program, which has successfully increased the pipeline of underrepresented groups into productive careers in endocrinology and diabetes research.

In recognition of his unwavering commitment, he has received mentorship awards from the University of Utah and the University of Iowa, as well as the Network of Minority Health Research Investigators Medallion from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.

Dr. Abel earned a medical degree from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, and a doctorate in physiology from Oxford University in England, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

He trained in internal medicine and served as chief resident at Northwestern University in Chicago, followed by a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at the Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

UCLA’s Department of Medicine has more than 800 full-time faculty physicians and 2,200 staff in 14 divisions. It provides patient care in more than 1.3 million inpatient and outpatient visits each year.

Dr. Abel succeeds Alan Fogelman, MD, who is stepping down after 29 years as department chair and will remain on faculty.