Research Awards

Nominations for the 2022 Odell and Wald Awards are due to Kim Stevenson by Monday, December 13 at 5:00 pm.

Gerard B. Odell Research Award

The Gerard B. Odell Research Award was established to honor Dr. Odell’s distinguished career in pediatric research, academia, clinic practice and education. The $5,000 award is given to an assistant or associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in recognition of their outstanding research accomplishments and demonstrated potential for future contributions in basic or translational research.

Gerard B. Odell, MD, was a major figure in shaping the subspecialty disciplines of neonatology and gastroenterology in Pediatrics, and was highly influential in improving the quality of care of newborns and children with liver disease in the second half of the 20th century. He was born in 1925 in London, England the seventh of nine children. He received his undergraduate education at New York University, his M.D. degree at Yale, and his training in Pediatrics at Yale and Johns Hopkins. As an assistant professor, he left Hopkins to serve as Chairman and Professor of the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Virginia. Odell came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to serve as the Director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 1976, where he remained until 1991, when he continued his basic research as an Emeritus Professor and worked steadily until his death in 1994.

Odell played a central role in establishing the foundations of the care of very sick low-birth-weight newborns while he served as the Chief of the Newborn Service at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. His work on the metabolism of bilirubin in infants was the major research commitment of his academic life. Odell’s path-breaking, bench-to-bedside research laid the foundations of life saving, state-of-the-art care of premature newborns worldwide.

As a clinician, Odell fostered intense skepticism about conventional wisdom in the treatment of a wide variety of pediatric illnesses. He embodied the Hippocratic injunction to “First, do no harm,” and a generation of his disciples became early advocates of what is now called “evidence based medicine”. He was intolerant of hypocrisy and pretense, set high standards for his students and trainees, and was a caring and supportive mentor to many.

Because of his integrity, intelligence, unfailing wit and gift for bench and clinical science, Odell was widely sought for leadership roles locally, nationally, and internationally. He trained nearly 30 basic and clinical scientists over his career. Odell’s legacy as a physician-scientist inspired many who have sought to emulate his model of critical thinking, scientific inventiveness and rigor, in the service of exceptional care to children

Ellen R. Wald Research Award

The Ellen R. Wald Research Award was established to honor Dr. Ellen Wald’s distinguished career in pediatric research, academia, clinic practice, and education. The $5,000 award is given to an assistant or associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics in recognition of their outstanding research accomplishments and demonstrated potential for future contributions in clinical and health services research or quality improvement.

Ellen R. Wald, MD, was recruited to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006 to serve as chair of the Department of Pediatrics. When she accepted the role, she was a trailblazer as the only female chair out of the 26 SMPH departments.
Wald obtained a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and her medical degree at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. She completed her pediatric residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and her fellowship in infectious diseases at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore. Wald was a distinguished and dedicated member of the University of Pittsburgh faculty for 28 years. She rose to the position of chief of the Division of Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Disease and served as interim chair of pediatrics for two and a half years.

Wald’s primary research focus is pediatric infectious diseases. She is internationally recognized for her landmark work describing childhood sinusitis and its microbiology, diagnosis, and management. Wald has an extensive record of publications and extramural funding, including 252 peer-reviewed publications to date and 35 funded grants and clinical trials totaling over $6.7 million since joining the UW in 2006. She is frequently invited to present her research, deliver Grand Rounds, or be a visiting professor in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her research and publication accomplishments, Wald is considered among the best teachers in pediatric infectious disease, achieving 12 teaching awards throughout her career.

Wald displays an effortless balance of her commitments and dedication to the missions of SMPH, UW Health, the Department of Pediatrics, and ultimately for the care of all children. Under her leadership, the Department of Pediatrics has experienced incredible growth. The number of faculty members more than doubled, from 90 to 200. Extramural research funding from the National Institutes of Health increased nearly five-fold, from $3.8 million (2006) to $23.1 million (2020); the respective national ranking rose from 44th to 13th. The state-of-the-art American Family Children’s Hospital opened in 2006 and has grown to include many robust specialty programs which provide truly outstanding and compassionate medical care.

In the fall of 2021, Wald received the prestigious Folkert Belzer Award, a lifetime achievement recognition presented annually to an SMPH faculty member. Named for the late former chair of the Department of Surgery, the Belzer Award recognizes an outstanding individual who has had a pivotal impact on the school and the people and populations it serves. Her profound commitment to improving the health of all children, and her advancement of the department’s clinical and academic missions were noted as just some of the reasons she was chosen for the distinguished award.