The Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association invites alumni to nominate their fellow alumni and, in some cases, faculty and staff of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health or UW Health, to be considered for WMAA awards. 

View the documents below for descriptions of the award categories and nomination forms. A Letter of nomination and CV are required along with any of the matching nomination forms. For more information, please contact Andrea Larson at

2018 awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2018 Medical Alumni Association Awards, which were presented at the annual Medical Alumni Awards Banquet.

Medical Alumni Citation – Distinguished Alumni Award

This award honors one of our outstanding alumni from our MD program who has achieved distinction in academic activities and in the practice of medicine.

Marvin Birnbaum

Marvin Birnbaum, MD '60, PhD '71

Marvin Birnbaum received his undergraduate, MD, and PhD degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and postdoctoral fellowship in Chest Disease and Cardiopulmonary Physiology here. He then joined our faculty, and launched a truly remarkable career of service and leadership that personifies the best traditions of the “Wisconsin Idea”.

On rare occasions, one might have the privilege of meeting a game-changer, a “paradigm shifter”, someone who was “ahead of their time”. Well, Birnbaum was ahead of his time. TWICE. Before there were any departments of Emergency Medicine, he advanced the field that was initially called “Emergency Services”. And before this institution, like our peers, embraced the concept of Global Health, he made international contributions to the health of nations across the globe.

Even as he was thinking globally, he was acting locally. From the start of his career, he directed many educational programs at our school, including our Center for Trauma and Life Support, our Mobile Critical Care Unit, and our Emergency Medical Services Program. He has played leadership roles in the American Heart Association’s Wisconsin chapter, and provided medical leadership to our local Fire department. He has served on international working groups that designed medical disaster relief programs, and for more than two decades was the Editor in Chief of “Prehospital and Disaster Medicine”, the Official Journal of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine.\

His multitude of honors and awards include the first Peter Safar Award for Services in Disaster Reanimatology, presented in Australia, and a visiting professorship in Japan. In 2000, he was selected as one of the 20 most influential people in Emergency Medical Services by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. Currently he is emeritus professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Emeritus Editor in Chief of Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.

Resident/Fellow Citation - Distinguished Resident Award

This award honors one of our outstanding alumni from a UW residency or fellowship program who has achieved distinction in academic activities and in the practice of medicine.

David Allen

David Allen, MD, PG '88

David Allen completed his undergraduate work at Stanford, where he was elected into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He then received his medical degree from Duke, prior to completing his pediatric residency, chief residency and fellowship training here. He joined our faculty in 1988, and very quickly rose through the ranks. He currently serves as Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, as well as the Director and Principle Investigator for our NIH-funded Endocrinology and Diabetes Fellowship Program.

Allen’s research interests include early life adipose organ development and dysfunction, the prevention of diabetes in children, and improving newborn screening for endocrine disorders. He has served as a mentor and role model for countless medical students, residents, and fellows, and in his spare time, has published nearly 200 papers and chapters.

His many honors and awards include election into AOA, visiting professorships add leading academic medical centers in the US, Canada, and South Korea, service on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and the International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology, election as President of the Pediatric Endocrine Society, and…most impressive, in my opinion, qualifying to participate in the United States Olympic Marathon Trials in both 1988 and 1991.

Early Career Achievement Award

This new award is honors one of our outstanding alumni who has attained exemplary success within 20 years after their graduation from our MD program. They will have made outstanding contributions through clinical service, research, education and/or administrative leadership, and show great promise for future success.

Sara Best

Sara Best, MD ’03

After completing her undergraduate studies at UW-Madison, Sara Best enrolled in our MD program, where she was elected into AOA. During medical school, she developed an interest in minimally invasive urology, and spent a year following graduation pursuing endo-urology research at the University of Minnesota. As a result of her work during medical school and her post-graduate year, she contributed to 12 peer-reviewed papers in top tiered journals.

We welcomed her back as a resident in 2004, and she received the Ira Sisk memorial Award for Dedication to Scholarly Activity by a Resident in 2008. After as two year fellowship in Endo-Urology and Minimally Invasive Urology at UT-Southwestern medical Center, we recruited her back home as an Assistant Professor of Urology in 2011. She brought with her the latest robotic and laparoscopic techniques, and now provides state of the art training to our residents. To date, she has published more than 60 papers and chapters, and has edited a book on minimally invasive urology. Her growing list of awards include recognition for best paper and poster presentations at several national meetings. 

Basic Sciences Emeritus Faculty Award

This award recognizes an emeritus faculty member in the Basic Sciences who has provided exceptional service and commitment to the school over a period of many years.

Millard Susman

Millard Susman, PhD

Millard Susman received his AB in zoology from Washington University and his PhD in genetics from Caltech. He served with distinction as a faculty member in our Laboratory of Genetics from 1962 until 2001. He was a central leader in the teaching of genetics on this campus, alongside such fellow legendary colleagues as James Crow and Oliver Smithies. He completed seminal research on the genetics of bacterial viruses, and served as key leadership roles, including Chair of the Laboratory of Genetics, director of the Center for Biology Education, and Associate Dean for Administration and Research, Associate Dean for Faculty and Research, and Interim Vice Dean in our school.

Susman was a founding faculty member of the highly regarded Biology Core Curriculum, and of the associated multi-year Biocore series, and taught courses in microbial genetics and general genetics for over 30 years. In retirement, Susman has continued to provide leadership to our campus, serving as a Board member and President of both the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, and the UW-Madison Retirement Association.

Clinical Sciences Emeritus Faculty Award

This award recognizes an emeritus faculty member in the Clinical Sciences who has provided exceptional service and commitment to the school over a period of many years.

Gloria Sarto

Gloria Sarto, MD ’58, PhD ’71

After earning an RN degree, Gloria Sarto completed a BS degree at UW-Madison, followed by her MD degree. Then, after completing her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at UW, she pursued a PhD in Medical Genetics here. In 1966, she joined our faculty and quickly rose through the ranks, serving as Associate Chair of the department, and then moved to Northwestern University, where she served as Vice Chair. She return to our school to chair our department at our Milwaukee Medical Campus, then moved to the University of New Mexico as Chair of their Ob/Gyn Department before finally returning home to UW for good in 1997.

Since that time, she has served in numerous institutional leadership roles, including as Director of the National Centers of Excellent Research Coordinating Center, the Center for Women’s Health and Health Disparities Research, and as Scientific Director of the Center for the Study of Cultural Diversity in Healthcare. In 2002, she became the first woman to be elected president of the century-old American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, and has held numerous national leadership positions.

Sarto is known as a trail blazing pioneer in women’s health whose life’s work reflects her passion for advancing health equity. She has dedicated herself to the challenge of insuring that ALL women have access to high quality health care, that they are represented research both as subjects and as researchers, and that our nation’s research agenda include women’s health priorities. Along the way, she has mentored and advanced the careers of countless women, and has inspired countless colleagues, including her dean. In her honor, a $1.5 million endowment was created to establish the Gloria E. Sarto, MD, PhD, Chair in Women’s Health and Health Equity Research.

Sigurd Sivertson Medical Education Award

This award recognizes an individual who has contributed to the education of medical students throughout his or her career. The award further recognizes the contributions made to the health of the citizens of Wisconsin by providing quality care while offering medical students rich educational opportunities in their communities.

Barbara Horner-Ibler

Barbara Horner-Ibler, MD '98

Horner-Ibler earned her medical degree from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998 and completed residency training in internal medicine with the UW-Madison, Milwaukee Clinical Campus in 2002, where she then served as clinical assistant professor of Medicine until 2006. She currently serves as medical director of the Bread of Healing Clinic in Milwaukee and as a private practice physician with Towne Central Medical in Brookfield.

Since Horner-Ibler was a medical student, she has demonstrated outstanding commitment to working with medically underserved populations and encouraged the school and other health care organizations to expand their service, outreach and teaching programs to serve patients in greatest need. After graduation from Carroll College, she completed a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton, a Masters of Social Work from the University of Chicago, along with her MD – providing her with an unusually broad and deep education that she has fully brought to bear in establishing clinical services for low income, uninsured person from the central city of Milwaukee. Established in the basement of a Lutheran Church while she was an internal medicine resident, the Bread of Healing Clinic has grown to provide outstanding primary care services to over 2,000 patients. She has extended her leadership beyond the Bread of Healing Clinic as the convener of the Free Clinic Collaborative, a group of 25 free and community clinics that provide services to those without insurance in southeastern Wisconsin.

Horner-Ibler is an outstanding educator and has regularly received teaching awards for the medical student teaching she provides. In addition to teaching in the clinic, she has established unique rotations for social work and medical students and residents based in the community, which highlight both the challenges and the strengths in these neighborhoods.

Ralph Hawley Distinguished Service Award

The award is conferred on a UW School of Medicine and Public Health MD graduate who has made outstanding contributions to his/her local community through medical practice, teaching, research, or humanitarian activities.

James Vergeront

James Vergeront, MD '78

James Vergeront earned his medical degree from the UW School of Medicine in 1978. Following the completion of his internship at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, he began his public health career at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health in 1979. For the past 39 years, Vergeront has been a medical epidemiologist in the Bureau of Communicable Diseases at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Since 1983 he has been the Director of the Wisconsin AIDS/HIV Program and is currently the longest serving AIDS Director in the nation. He has published numerous articles on toxic shock syndrome, blastomycosis and HIV. Dr. Vergeront has been recognized for his public health work, receiving the Barbara Lange Award in Health Education for “making substantial contributions to health promotion in Wisconsin” and was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award by his peers at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.

Vergeront is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and has made significant contributions to student learning as a lecturer and course instructor, and serves as faculty to the UW Preventive Medicine Residency and the Population Health Service Learning Fellowship Program. Vergeront has also served on numerous committees at the UW including the MPH Curricular Transformation Work Group charged with re-designing the Masters in Public Health curriculum; and at the Division of Public Health he serves as a preceptor and mentor to numerous medical and graduate students assisting the University of Wisconsin in its commitment to the Wisconsin Idea.

Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association Service Award

This is an award for a UW School of Medicine and Public Health MD graduate who has made an exceptional commitment to the Medical Alumni Association over a period of years.

Charles Ihle

Charles Ihle, MD '65

Charles Ihle earned his medical degree from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health in 1965. He completed a one-year internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, California, followed by an Orthopedic Residency at UW Hospital and Clinics. Following Active Duty from 1970-1973 with the US Navy in a US Naval Hospital in Taiwan, he practiced at Ihle Orthopedic Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisconsin until 1998. He then practiced at Midlefort Clinic, part of the Mayo Clinic Health System, in Eau Claire until retiring in 2014.

Ihle has been a long and trusted member of the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association Board of Directors, joining in 2004 and currently serving on the WMAA Advisory Board Council.

Honorary Life Membership in the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association

This award honors an individual who has been particularly supportive of and helpful to students and alumni. This award is given to a non-alum, typically a staff member in the School of Medicine and Public Health or the UWF.

Kris Whitman

Kristi Whitman

Whitman earned her bachelor’s degrees in Meat and Animal Sciences and Life Sciences Journalism at UW-Madison. Following initial stints in chemistry, editorial services at a research corporation, and public relations at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, she joined UW Health Marketing and Communications Department in 1988. She was the primary editor for UW Children’s Hospital for several years, then the first Webmaster for UW Hospital and Clinics back in the day, and a frontline communicator when UW Health implemented the Epic electronic health record (talk about “mission impossible”). She made frequent writing contributions to the Quarterly, and served as associate editor under the former editor, Dian Land.

Whitman was selected to succeed Land as the managing editor of our Quarterly magazine in 2013. She has served in this key position with distinction, combining her intense dedication and loyalty to our school and her remarkable qualities of collegiality, warmth, and humanism. She provides leadership and direction to what is widely recognized as one of the nation’s best publications of its kind, working closely with SMPH and WMAA leaders, the Quarterly editorial board, and our faculty, staff, and learners. She possesses an uncanny talent for capturing the essence of our increasingly sophisticated academic and service activities in a way that is readily accessible and engaging to our more than 16,000 readers. Under her tutelage, the Quarterly presents the human side of our institution, with stories that present the people who advance our missions and vision.