A new research center will be dedicated this weekend at the University of Iowa which promises to be innovative in its goal of finding treatments and a cure for diabetes, an epidemic that afflicts one in every 12 Iowans.
The center’s director, Dr. Dale Abel, says there will be 15 separate labs in the single facility that will all be working independently — yet together.
“It is very broad-based,” Dr. Abel says. “It really runs the spectrum from fundamental science and discovery at the level of molecules and genes and so forth all the way up to studies across populations. So, it really goes, as we say, from bench to bedside and hopefully, back to the bench as well.”
Each of the 15 labs will be run by a U-of-I professor who’ll have a staff of between five and 20, in addition to dozens of other researchers on the Iowa City campus who will remain in their current labs.
“The goal really is to bring together individuals who ordinarily wouldn’t spontaneously talk to each other,” Abel says. “So, within our group we have people who are eye specialists, we have people who are kidney specialists, people who are heart specialists, people who are diabetes specialists, people who are molecular biologists. We are all working together. We meet every week, for example.”
The center features 20,000 square feet of advanced research space with cutting-edge medical equipment and Abel says it will employ “visionary” techniques that will, it’s hoped, lead to breakthroughs.
“We are bringing together a broad base of people and the way that research moves forward is to bring together people who ordinarily wouldn’t talk to each other and get them to talk about their common problems,” Abel says. “That’s where the really creative ideas begin to come out which is really the way that you can leapfrog towards major advancements.”
The center will take up two floors of the new Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building. Abel says the university has devoted at least $25-million to creating the facility, in addition to a $25-million donation from the Fraternal Order of Eagles which will be devoted only to research.
The dedication ceremony will be held Saturday at 11 AM.