UIHC searching for a diabetes cure


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The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics is seeking to expand diabetes care in the state.

At the state Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center presented its vision of an interdisciplinary diabetes program at the Iowa River Landing.

E. Dale Abel, the director of the center, said the mission for the diabetes care center is to provide convenient, seamless, one-stop, total, quality care for patients with diabetes throughout their lifetime.

The nationally  and internationally known doctor is recognized for his work in obesity, diabetes, and the effects they both have on the human heart, said Debra Schwinn, the dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine, who introduced him at the meeting.

Schwinn noted that he has a great understanding for what needs to be done in the world of diabetes.

“He has a vision not only for deepening the research environment, but really coming to new mechanisms of dealing with diabetes,” she said.

Abel noted during his presentation only 30 board-certified endocrinologists practice in Iowa, and one-third of them are in Des Moines. That makes only one endocrinologist for every 10,000 diabetics throughout the state of Iowa.

“So clearly we need novel and innovative solutions to manage this largely underserved population,” he said.

Abel said the opportunity to find a way to solve the diabetes epidemic is what attracted him to the UI from the University of Utah, where he was chief of the Diabetes Center.

“We believe that at Iowa River Landing that this can serve as a prototype and a model for such a program could be applied throughout the state, and of course, could be a national example,” he said.
Abel wants the diabetes treatment to be done in teams containing physicians, pharmacists, and midlevel providers.

Regent President Bruce Rastetter said the vision is a great way to move forward in the treatment of diabetes.

“Almost a third of all Iowans have symptoms or have diabetes, and that’s almost 1 million people,” he said. “The opportunity to create the prototype there is really important for the health of Iowans.”

Regent Katie Mulholland said that because of Gov. Terry Branstad’s work to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, this serves as another way to continue that work.

“I see, from the regents’ standpoint, and the citizens of Iowa, with the support of the governor, a real opportunity to improve the health and fitness of all of our citizens,” she said.

There is no specific timeframe in place yet for when the program will be implemented, UI spokesman Tom Moore said. An estimate for cost has not yet been decided on either. Moore said there are many things that need to be done before the prototype will be up and running.

Moore said he thinks UI President Sally Mason is looking forward to the new program.

“President Mason has been very impressed with the work that’s being done out at the Iowa River Landing Clinic,” Moore said. “She’s been a patient there herself, and she said that in terms of access and convenience, it can’t be beat.”

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