2020 Annual Report

Letter from our Chair

I am pleased to introduce the University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics’ 2020 Annual Report, which highlights the extraordinary clinical care, research activities, and educational milestones that took place during the past fiscal year.

It’s normally impossible to define an entire year by just one event, but the swift arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the United States and the spread of coronavirus disease COVID-19 throughout Wisconsin and the world is the exception. Nearly every aspect of our lives was altered by COVID-19. We leveraged telehealth and technology whenever possible to serve our patients and families, and we worked remotely and physically separated ourselves from colleagues through social distancing. These changes, while significant, do not even begin to touch on the personal pressures many individuals faced, including caring for young or school-aged children at home, coping with a partner or family member’s job loss, managing personal and financial stress, and much more.

As I reflect on the many changes we experienced both professionally and personally over the past year, I am in awe at how our department remained poised and worked cohesively as we responded to the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, I am grateful for the remarkable talent of our faculty, staff, and learners, and their ability to further our mission during the most unprecedented circumstances. Within this annual report, we share some of the ways we advanced our research, education programs, and patient care. We also recognize the faculty who received prominent awards during the past fiscal year, and we share a summary of our department’s growth, its research funding, and our expenses and revenue.

I am incredibly proud of what I have witnessed from all of those who work within the Department of Pediatrics. I could truly name every provider and staff member here, as each of them pulled together during a challenging and extraordinary year. When we look back on this situation in the years to come, let us know that we did the best we could, that we provided the best care we could for our patients and families, and that we took care of each other.


Ellen R. Wald, MD

Chair of the Department of Pediatrics
Alfred Dorrance Daniels Professor on Diseases of Children

2020 Highlights

Research Highlights

  • The Department of Pediatrics had over $36.8 million in grant funding in FY2020, a more than 90% increase in funding since 2010. Among medical school pediatric departments nationwide, we’re ranked #13 in National Institutes of Health funding, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.
  • Our faculty were PIs and co-PIs on 80 grants and managed 123 clinical studies.
  • Christine Sorenson, PhD, distinguished scientist, Neonatology and Newborn Nursery, was awarded a four-year, $1.5 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute (NIH/NEI) for her project, titled “VEGF antagonism and resistance to neovascular AMD.”  Sorenson and co-investigators are researching vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), the key factor that drives neovascularization associated with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), with anti-VEGF therapy being the standard treatment.
  • Infectious Diseases researchers Bruce Klein, MD, professor, and Marcel Wüthrich, PhD, distinguished scientist, received a competitive $2.8 million, five-year renewal of their National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases R01 grant, “Mechanisms of antifungal vaccine immunity.” This project, which entered its twentieth year, aims to harness a novel antigen to elicit and analyze mechanisms of vaccine immunity against dimorphic fungi. 
  • Judith Smith, MD, PhD, associate professor, Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, received a grant from the American Lung Association for her project, “Regulation of rhinovirus by the asthma-associated 17q21 locus gene ORMDL3.” The project seeks to determine which gene controls rhinovirus replication and address which step of the viral lifecycle is affected by ORMDL3.
  • Brian Williams, MD, clinical assistant professor, Hospital Medicine, was awarded the Richmond Center New Investigator Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence for his project, “Smoke Exposure Disclosure: Parent Perspectives of Screening.”
  • Hospital Medicine faculty Ryan Coller, MD, MPH, assistant professor, and Mary Ehlenbach, MD, associate professor, along with an investigator from the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering, were awarded a $75,000 grant from the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research for their project, “Participatory design of a learning health system to improve medically complex enteral tube care.” The team is developing a caregiver learning health system to support in-home caregiving to improve the care of children with medical complexity and their family’s health.
  • Mario Otto, MD, PhD, professor, Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transport, received a Scholar Grant from Hyundai Hope on Wheels for his project, “Targeted radiotherapy with alkyl phosphocholine analogs for refractory childhood leukemia.” The overarching goal is to identify the role of targeted radiotherapy with alkyl phosphocholine analogs in disease control of leukemia as single agent and in combination with other therapeutic agents.
  • Elizabeth Cox, MD, PhD, professor, General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, and director of the Program of Research on Outcomes for Kids (PROKids), and collaborators received a Carbone Cancer Center Rural Cancer Pilot Award for their project, “On-time HPV vaccination for rural Wisconsin youth.” The project is a first step to inform healthcare system-level interventions that address low rates of HPV vaccination in rural Wisconsin.
  • A team in the Gern Research Lab, led by Professor James Gern, MD, including co-investigators Christine Seroogy, MD, professor, Daniel Jackson, MD, associate professor, andSima Ramratnam, MD, assistant professor, were awarded a supplement to their ongoing U19 grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The supplement, titled “Human epidemiology and response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS),” supports the participation of the Wisconsin Infant Study Cohort and Childhood Origins of Asthma birth cohort studies in the HEROS study.
  • Daniel Jackson, MD, associate professor, Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, and his team began participating in the HEROS study and joined the Inner City Asthma Consortium, a surveillance study to determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV2 infection over time in children and their household contacts.
  • Anne Marie Singh, MD, associate professor, Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, as awarded a grant from the University of Wisconsin Food Research Institute for her project, titled “Microbiome influences on pediatric food allergy.” Singh is investigating the cellular mechanisms that initiate allergic responses to foods and how environmental exposures influence the development of food allergy.

Education Highlights

Our education programs meet the needs of learners at all levels: undergraduates, medical students, residents, fellows, postgraduate trainees, and practicing healthcare professionals.

Our graduating residents enter desirable primary care practices or top-quality sub-specialty fellowships in academic medical centers. Our fellows excel as sub-specialty clinicians, researchers, and leaders in academic pediatrics.

Notable stories from 2020

  • The resident class of 2020 had a 100 percent pass rate on the American Board of Pediatrics general pediatrics certifying exam. The department’s three-year pass rate average is 98 percent.
  • Five residents matched with sub-specialty fellowship programs across the nation: Hematology and Oncology at the University of Wisconsin¬–Madison, Cardiology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, Critical Care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and Emergency Medicine at the University of Utah Health – Salt Lake City.
  • Residents Sarah MacKay, MD, and Natalie Tedford, MD, received the American Academy of Pediatrics Leonard P. Rome CATCH Visiting Professorship award.
  • A Highlights for Children article written by pediatrics resident Jessie Boyett Anderson, MD, was published as an audiobook for children. The narrated article, titled “Where Do the Turtles Go?,” explains where baby sea turtles go after they hatch.
  • Nicholas Pytel, DO, fellow, Hematology and Oncology, was awarded a Young Investigator Award from Hyundai Hope on Wheels for his project, “Effects of molecular targeted radionuclide therapy on the immune microenvironment in medulloblastoma.” Mario Otto, MD, PhD, associate professor, Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, is his mentor.
  • Endocrinology and Diabetes fellow Erika Zevin, MD, was awarded travel funds to attend the 23rd Advanced Postgraduate Course on Growth and Growth Disorders in Stockholm, Sweden. Only 25 pediatric endocrinology fellows from across the globe are accepted in the course.

Patient Care Highlights

100 years of kids, care, and courage

The American Family Children’s Hospital kicked off its 100th anniversary celebration on January 7, 2020, with a state-wide proclamation from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. The proclamation honored and recognized the entire year as the 100th anniversary of pediatric care at the University of Wisconsin.

The original two-story, 40-bed Mary Cornelia Bradley Hospital for the Study of Children’s Disease was built on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus during the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic. A lot has changed in the last 100 years, but one thing has never changed: our deep appreciation for all the children and families who trusted us as their healthcare experts.

Pediatric Heart Program Earns Nationwide Recognition

In 2019, the pediatric heart program received the Society of Thoracic Surgeon’s most elite “three-star” designation. Of 98 programs that publicly reported their outcome data, UW Health was one of only 10 to achieve three-star status.

Similarly, U.S. News & World Report recognized American Family Children’s Hospital for its pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs in its 2019-20 rankings. Among all pediatric heart programs in the nation, UW Health’s came in at 39.

Division of Global Pediatrics sparks efforts for children’s health across the world

The Department of Pediatrics’ newest division, Global Pediatrics, was built on the philosophy that “every child everywhere deserves optimal well-being and the opportunity to thrive.”

Its members are global health leaders in major pediatrics organizations across the country, and it creates a regular, structured forum for global health scholarly work, clinical care and innovation, leadership, advocacy, and systems improvement.

21st century medicine helps Plain families deal with rare, inherited illnesses

Department of Pediatrics faculty are among those collaborating with Dr. James DeLine, founder of the Center for Special Children, to test and treat rare genetic conditions among Amish and Mennonite communities in Wisconsin. The genetic work has brought together the State Laboratory of Hygiene and clinicians from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine and Public Health.

Faculty Awards and Recognition

The Department of Pediatrics takes great pride in recognizing excellence among its members. The following awards were presented to our faculty during the past academic year.

Award Recipient – Award Name (Sponsor Organization)
  • David Allen, MD – Excellence Award for Teaching (UW Health)
  • Christian Capitini, MD – Outstanding New Member Science Award (Society for Pediatric Research)
  • Pelin Cengiz, MD – Gerard B. Odell Research Award (University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics)
  • Timothy Chybowski, MD – Excellence Award for Clinical Practice (UW Health)
  • Ellen Connor, MD – Patient Experience Award (UW Health)
  • Philip Farrell, MD, PhD – Founder’s Award (American Thoracic Society)
  • Philip Farrell, MD, PhD – Sue Rosenau Legacy Award (Legacy of Angels Foundation)
  • Derek Hoyme, MD – Todd Varness Outstanding Clinical Teacher Award (UW Department of Pediatrics)
  • Anna Huttenlocher, MD – WARF Named Professorship (UW–Madison)
  • Mollie Kane, MD – Clinical Educator Excellence Award (Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation)
  • Catherine Kelley, MD – Patient Experience Award (UW Health)
  • Troy Kleist, MD – Charles C. Lobeck Award for Outstanding Teaching in Pediatrics (UW Department of Pediatrics)
  • Pamela Kling, MD – Founder’s Award (Midwest Society for Pediatric Research)
  • Janet Legare, MD – National Medical Advisory Board (Little People of America)
  • Mala Mathur, MD – Outstanding Primary Care Pediatrician Award (UW Department of Pediatrics)
  • David McCulley, MD – Gerard B. Odell Research Award (University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics)
  • Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH – Champion in Women’s Health Award (Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation)
  • Megan Neuman, MD – Patient Experience Award (UW Health)
  • Daniel O’Connell, MD – Rising Star Clinical Practice Excellence Award (UW Health)
  • Caroline Paul, MD – Research/Scholarship Award (Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics)
  • Joshua Ross, MD – Excellence Award for Leadership (UW Health)
  • Judith Smith, MD, PhD – Vilas Associates Award (University of Wisconsin–Madison)
  • Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH – Outstanding Woman of Color Award (University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Faculty Promotions

The following individuals were promoted in fiscal year 2020.

Name – Promotion Rank, Division
  • Heather Bartlett, MD – Professor, Cardiology
  • Melissa Cercone, MD – Clinical Associate Professor, Critical Care
  • Mary Ehlenbach, MD – Associate Professor, Hospital Medicine
  • Luke Lamers, MD – Associate Professor, Cardiology
  • Jamie Limjoco, MD, MS – Associate Professor, Neonatology and Newborn Nursery
  • Gwen McIntosh, MD, MPH – Professor, GPAM*
  • Caroline Paul, MD – Associate Professor, GPAM*
  • Prasanna Raman, MD – Associate Professor, GPAM*
  • Allison Redpath Mahon, MD – Associate Professor, Nephrology
  • Catherine Reiser, MS, CGC – Professor, Genetics and Metabolism
  • Jessica Scott Schwoerer, MD – Associate Professor, Genetics and Metabolism
  • Christine Seroogy, MD – Professor, Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology
  • Daniel Sklansky, MD – Associate Professor, Hospital Medicine
  • Christine Zimmerman, MD – Clinical Associate Professor, GPAM*

*GPAM = General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine