Prior to moving to the University of Iowa, Dr. Abel was the Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes and Senior Investigator in the Program in Molecular Medicine at the University of Utah where he held the H.A. and Edna Benning, Presidential Endowed Chair in Diabetes and Endocrinology. He received his medical degree with Distinction from the University of the West Indies –U.W.I. (first in the history of the U.W.I.) then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he obtained his D.Phil (Ph.D.) under the mentorship of Professor John Ledingham in the Nuffield Department of Medicine. After his doctoral studies he completed internal medicine residency training at Northwestern University in Chicago where he served as Chief Medical Resident. Dr. Abel was then recruited to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as an endocrinology fellow in the Harvard Medical School Longwood Area Endocrinology Program. He served with distinction and received while there, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Minority Faculty Development Fellowship. He subsequently remained on the faculty of Harvard and became the co-director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Program at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He was recruited to the University of Utah in 2000 initially as an Assistant Professor and was promoted within 3 years to Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Medicine and Division of Endocrinology Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Utah School of Medicine. In 2007, he was appointed to Chief of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes and promoted to Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry in 2008. He established and oversaw the Metabolism Interest Group (MIG) at the University of Utah, which was awarded a T32 training grant by the NIDDK. By the time of his departure, the MIG had grown to an interdisciplinary program in metabolism with over 20 faculty members who had secured >$15M annually in extramural research support.
Dr. Abel has had a distinguished career in endocrine related research. As a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Barbara Kahn he performed seminal studies that established the critical link between adipose-tissue glucose transporter (GLUT4) expression and whole body insulin resistance. This work was published in Nature. Subsequent studies in this model by Dr. Kahn have lead to the discovery of a novel adipocytokine (retinol binding protein –4) that may be involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and diabetes. As a member if the Thyroid Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Abel carried out landmark studies that defined the role of the beta-2 isoform of the thyroid receptor in the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. His work in this area was recognized when he received the Van Meter Prize of the American Thyroid Association in 2001, which is the highest award given to young investigators by that society.
Dr. Abel’s pioneering work in the area of glucose transport in the heart helped to foster his current research interests that include the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for cardiac dysfunction in diabetes. He currently directs an active research group whose main focus is the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms that lead to cardiac dysfunction in diabetes and the regulation of myocardial growth and metabolism by insulin signaling. His studies have elucidated mechanisms that are responsible for mitochondrial dysfunction that characterizes the heart in insulin resistant states and has pioneered studies of insulin action in the heart. These studies have provided important insight into the pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction in the diabetic heart. His laboratory was a member, for the 10-year duration of the Animal Models of Diabetes Complications Consortium, playing a vital role in defining and validating new standard mouse models of diabetes cardiovascular complications. Dr. Abel’s research program has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995, and also by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is a sought after speaker both nationally and internationally, having presented his work at numerous national and international symposia. Dr. Abel is the recipient of the 2012 Gerald Aurbach Award of the Endocrine Society for Research achievement. He has been elected to membership in the American Association of Physicians (AAP) and the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). He is a member of the Council of the Endocrine Society and the Board of Directors of Keystone Symposia. He serves as Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the NIDDK, is immediate past-chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee and Chair elect of the Board of Directors of the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
Dr. Abel has been the numerous additional scholastic honors, important examples of which include -the Rhodes Scholarship, the Webster Award for the best senior resident – Northwestern University School of Medicine, Eleanor and Miles Shore, 50th Anniversary Scholars in Medicine Fellowship –Harvard Medical School (HMS), HMS-Class of 2002 excellence in teaching award, Van Meter Award –American Thyroid Association, David W. Haack Memorial Award in Cardiovascular Research, William Odell Young Investigator Award-Department of Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Heart and Stroke Foundation/Richard Lewar center of Excellence Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Toronto, Established Investigator of the American Heart Association and the James Pulliam Memorial Lectureship of Meharry Medical College, the Gerald. He was appointed to the Josie Johnson Professorship in Molecular Biology at the University of Utah in 2007 and a Benning Endowed Chair in 2012. Dr. Abel is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow of the American Heart Association.
Dr. Abel is committed to mentoring the next generation of endocrine researchers and biomedical scientists. Throughout his career, he has supervised many post-doctoral research fellows and graduate students and undergraduates and medical students in his laboratory. He has mentored summer students sponsored by the Endocrine Society and the American Heart Association. He has served as the program chair for the annual workshop of the Network of Minority Investigators (sponsored by the NIDDK), whose goal is to increase the likelihood that minority investigators will succeed in biomedical research. He directed the Medical Student Research Program at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Abel has served on the Minority Affairs Committee of the Endocrine Society and chaired the NIDDK “B” study section, the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute Medical Student Research Fellowship Review panel, and served as a member of the council of the Western Section of the American Federation for Medical Research, the (WSCI) Western Society of Clinical Investigation and the ASCI. Recently, Dr. Abel became the Principal Investigator of the NIDDK-funded Future Leaders Advancing Research in Endocrinology (FLARE) program to the endocrine society, whose goal is to provide mentorship for and to increase the pipeline of underrepresented groups to enter productive careers in endocrinology and diabetes research. In recognition of his commitment to mentoring, Dr. Abel was honored with the 2011 Distinguished Mentor Award from The University of Utah in recognition of his exceptional mentoring of students and post-doctoral scholars.