Guest Opinion: Philanthropy’s impact exceeds expectations

E. Dale Abel shares his experience as the Director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research center and encourages people to consider donating what they can to the UI.


Nick Rohlman

Dr. E. Dale Abel speaks during the 35th annual University of Iowa President’s Lecture. Dr. Abel spoke on his research into diabetes and heart disease.

The power of philanthropy brought me to the University of Iowa. The generosity of the Fraternal Order of Eagles enabled an opportunity to build an internationally recognized diabetes research center. As I learned more about this intriguing possibility, I became increasingly aware of the passion and selflessness of the Eagles and the members’ desire to leverage their gift into meaningful results. With their help, we have advanced diabetes research in Iowa through recruitment of faculty and by supporting their most innovative research ideas. By all measures, the return on the Eagles’ investment has exceeded 200 percent. 

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My endowed-chair position has allowed me to sustain my research program and mentor trainees despite inherent challenges to maintain external grant funding. As director of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center — and more recently as chair of the Internal Medicine Department — I have the privilege to meet with donors and potential donors who have expressed a desire to support the University of Iowa’s important missions.

For some donors, their generosity arises from a sense of paying it forward given the transformative and defining effect the university has had in their lives or their gratitude for the care they received from faculty in my department.

I enjoy spending time with donors to outline our faculty’s tremendous achievements and identify areas of ongoing need. I enjoy sharing how investing in our faculty has a powerful impact not only in their careers but in advancing our understanding of some of the most challenging problems in medicine and developing promising new treatments. Many of our university’s missions — and those of the academic medical center — would falter without the generosity of donors, whose support has enabled us to take risks and dream big.

I contribute to the university, and I encourage anyone who calls the UI home to consider sharing an investment of generosity of any size. I assure you that the impact of your gift will likely exceed your expectations.

— E. Dale Abel, M.D., Ph.D. chair/department executive officer, Internal Medicine Department director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center

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