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Release: Dec. 3, 2001

Abboud steps down from Internal Medicine post, Densen named interim head

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- François M. Abboud, M.D., who has served as head of the University of Iowa department of internal medicine since 1976, has announced he will step down from that position effective Jan. 1. Peter Densen, M.D., has been named interim head of the department.

Densen currently serves as associate dean for student affairs and curriculum in the UI College of Medicine, a post he has held since 1995. The interim appointment also is effective Jan. 1.

The appointment was announced by Robert P. Kelch, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, vice president for statewide health services and director of UI Health Care.

"The department of internal medicine is the largest department in UI Health Care," Kelch said. "Because of its size and its complexity, it is crucial that the head of the department be an experienced leader and an outstanding administrator.

"Peter Densen oversaw the revision of our medical curriculum, which is now considered a model program across the country. In addition, he has been an integral part of the team responsible for planning our health campus capital project. I am extremely pleased that Peter has enthusiastically accepted these important new responsibilities."

Prior to becoming associate dean, Densen was associate chair for medical student education programs for the department, and associate director of the Division of Infectious Diseases. His research focuses on the molecular basis for inherited deficiencies in proteins that help protect against infection. He has also examined the role these proteins play in infections caused by common pathogenic bacteria.

Densen received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he also completed a medicine residency. He received fellowship training at the University of Virginia prior to joining the faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine. He joined the UI faculty in 1983.

Kelch had high praise for the legacy of Abboud, who is also Edith King Pearson Professor of Cardiovascular Research at the UI.

"It is impossible to replace someone like Frank Abboud," Kelch said. "Under his leadership, the UI department of internal medicine has grown immensely in both research and patient care. During his time as head, the department has attained international stature in a host of disciplines."

In 1988, Abboud was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. In 1997, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the two highest awards presented by the American Heart Association (AHA): the Research Achievement Award and the Gold Heart Award. In addition, he has won the Dickinson W. Richards Memorial Award from the Council on Circulation of the AHA; the Wiggers Award and Medal of the American Physiological Society Cardiovascular Section; the CIBA Award and Medal for Hypertension Research from the Council of High Blood Pressure Research of the AHA; the Merck Sharp and Dohme International Award for Research in Hypertension; and the Robert H. Williams Distinguished Chairmen of Medicine Award from the Association of Professors of Medicine.

He has served as president of the American Heart Association, the Association of American Physicians, the Central Society for Clinical Research, and the American Federation for Clinical Research.

He is a Master of the American College of Physicians, holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the University of Lyon, France.

Abboud will continue to serve as director of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center, in which capacity he has served since 1974. Abboud will provide assistance to Kelch as vice president of statewide health services, especially in the areas of strategic planning and external relations.

In September 2000, Abboud announced his decision to step down as head. A search for a replacement recently concluded without a successor being hired. Kelch indicated a new search committee will be formed and the search reopened next year.

The department of internal medicine is the largest department in UI Health Care with 222 faculty members, 72 residents and 88 fellows. In fiscal year 2001, researchers in the department received $42 million in external funding. In the same period, the department provided some $60 million in patient care.

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