UI names Center for Diabetes


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Mike Lagervall, the international president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, is convinced the University of Iowa is the answer to diabetes.

“When we find the cure to diabetes — and we will find that cure — it will be because of the Eagles and the University of Iowa,” he said.

Around 400 people gathered for the naming ceremony of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at the UI Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility on April 1. The ceremony was in light of the Fraternal Order of Eagles meeting a milestone, $10 million of its five-year, $25 million pledge.

“The whole event was wonderful because of what [the center] is going to do. Diabetes is a disease that affects everyone in one way or any other,” said Paul Rothman, the dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine.

Lagervall also lauded the union.

“The Eagles are very, very proud of partnering up with the University of Iowa,” Lagervall said. “It’s a great marriage between the two.”

Representatives from the Fraternal Order of Eagles, UI President Sally Mason, legislators, and singer Tony Orlando were among those who attended what Rothman called an “extremely emotional and happy event.”

The money will go toward four endowed chairs and two faculty fellowships in addition to funding research. In five to seven years, the goal is to have 10 to 15 new faculty persons in the area of diabetes and obesity, said Daryl Granner, the founding director of the UI center.

“The primary purpose is to support things [researchers] need to have,” Granner said. “We hope to have some of the top scientists in the world working for us. It’s a win-win.”

Diabetes affects around 24 million Americans, 8 percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Granner established the NIH-sponsored Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center at the UI, which no longer exists, in the mid-70s. Since then, however, diabetes research conducted at the UI has been scattered in different departments, which the center will combine.

“It’s a rather loose consortium right now, and we need to put that into a group that has an identity,” Granner said.

As of now, the center is conducting research, recruiting faculty, and working out of a temporary facility.

“We’re just staring to organize the center,” Granner said. “We’re establishing an office and all the support facilities.”

The research center will be a part of the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building or what Rothman calls “the big hole in the ground.” Officials expect the building to be finished by 2013.

The Fraternal Order of the Eagles is a nonprofit organization that donates more than $100 million a year to local communities, fundraisers, and charities.

Members raise money through donations, raffles, dinners, and they are well on their way to collecting their third $5 million installment, Lagervall said.

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