A tradition of innovation
From major advances in cancer research to breakthroughs in stem cells, our investigators are renowned for key contributions that have expanded our understanding of human health and have led to better treatments. Learn about some of our major research discoveries.
Frederic Mohs develops a surgical technique to remove external tumors, such as mouth, lip and skin cancers, while sparing normal tissue.
Cancer researcher Van Potter becomes the first to demonstrate the effectiveness of combining drugs to treat cancer. Later in his career he would become a pioneer of bioethics, becoming the first to use the term.
Researcher Harry Waisman (pictured at left) begins tracing connection between mental retardation and the metabolic disorder PKU, leading to routine newborn screening.
Joshua Lederberg awarded Nobel prize for work on bacteria reproduction and antibiotic resistance.
Dermatologist Derek Cripps helps develop the SPF (sun protection factor) scale for rating sunscreen lotions.
Howard Temin is named co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering reverse transcriptase, the enzyme that explains how retroviruses cause cancer and AIDS.
Oliver Smithies conducts much of the research that results in scientists' ability to manipulate DNA in a way that allowed the addition or subtraction of genes from the genome of a mouse. He would be awarded a Nobel Prize in 2007.
James Thomson and his research team become the first in the world to derive a human embryonic stem cell line.
Cardiovascular researchers led by Timothy Kamp (pictured) and James Thomson prove that functional human heart muscle cells can be produced from genetically reprogrammed skin cells, raising the possibility that a patient's own skin cells could someday be used to repair damaged heart tissue.
Scientists led by speech-language pathologist Nathan Welham succeed in growing functional vocal-cord tissue in the laboratory, a major step toward restoring a voice to people who have lost their vocal cords to cancer surgery or other injuries.
Not all tumors are alike, which means they respond differently to their environments and treatment options. Attending physicians and drug manufacturers rely on the work of researchers like Caroline Alexander to discover how tumor tissues behave and what therapies are most effective.
Training the next generation of scientists
The School of Medicine and Public Health is strategically positioned within a world-class research university where talented faculty and staff members are passionate about discovery, where innovation and collaboration in research and training are valued highly, and where top-notch research trainees are recruited nationally and internationally.
View some quick facts about research activities at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
Total extramural research awards in 2020-21
Medical devices, imaging and pharmaceutical technologies by UW-Madison researchers invented or patented with support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF)
Number of graduate students in basic science programs
Basic science strategic plan
Basic sciences are fundamental to every aspect of our mission as a leading academic medical center. The strategic plan describes key actions that serve as a roadmap for the school.
The Wisconsin Partnership Program is a vital supporter of research aimed at improving Wisconsin's health. The program administers competitive faculty and community grant programs targeting the state's most critical health issues, including cancer, obesity and infectious diseases.
Investigators from the School of Medicine and Public Health and beyond benefit from the depth and breadth of UW-Madison's world-class research enterprise. We embrace collaboration as a means of accelerating discovery.
Departments, centers and institutes
Our scientists conduct research in 27 basic and clinical science departments, and 23 research centers and institutes.
Research at UW–Madison
Research at UW–Madison is a searchable web resource that can be used to identify research and research projects, foster collaboration, and highlight the achievements of scholars across campus.
Investigators can find people, services and core facilities from an extensive directory of UW-Madison research resources.
Clinical trials at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health are medical research studies that test the effects of a drug, medical device or other medical treatment on a group of human volunteers. There are many clinical trials underway at the medical school, ranging from cancer to smoking cessation.
Supporting industry partnerships
In keeping with the Wisconsin Idea that the boundaries of classrooms and laboratories should extend to the entire state, the School of Medicine and Public Health supports the movement of transformational technologies to the marketplace. Many of these have been made possible through our industrial partnerships.