University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

UW Division of Infectious Disease


The University of Wisconsin Division of Infectious Diseases is committed to comprehensive patient care, high caliber research and innovative medical education. Our physicians and fellows provide inpatient, outpatient and emergency consultative services for the diagnosis and management of complex infectious diseases and unexplained febrile illnesses, especially those that may become life-threatening.

We also offer innovative clinical inpatient and outpatient training and a comprehensive research environment for our Infectious Diseases Fellows. Our research faculty are funded by numerous sources and are engaged in many clinical studies.

Infectious Disease Links

History of the Division: Dr. Dennis Maki

COVID-19 Response

westergaard speech

Infectious Disease faculty physician, Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH, speaks at the White Coat for Black Lives rally on June 13, 2020 in downtown Madison, WI. 

"...The work of fighting for social justice and the work of improving public health are truly the same work.  The COVID-19 epidemic has shown us, like many, if not all prior infectious disease epidemics, that social inequalities beget health inequalities.

As of yesterday we knew of at least 169 deaths from COVID-19 in Black Wisconsin residents. To break this down as an epidemiologist would, this comes to a rate of about 43 deaths per 100,000 population.  The rate of COVID-19 deaths in White Wisconsin residents is just over 9 per 100,000, which means that being Black in our state gives you a 450% increased risk of dying from this new disease than if one were White.

Epidemics might be ultimately caused by a microbe, in this case a virus, but epidemics look the way they do because of factors that are social, economic, and political. The virus doesn't see the color of our skin. It doesn't know our immigration status, what kind of job we have, or whether we have health insurance.  The virus is just an opportunist. It  moves fastest in our communities that have the fewest resources or tools to protect against it..."

View his entire speech here. 

Infectious Disease Faculty COVID-19 News Features

July COVID-19 News Features

After a respite, COVID-19 sickens hundreds more each day (Wisconsin Examiner) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

'Be ever more vigilant': Health experts warn not to let guard down as COVID-19 cases rise (Fox 47) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Human Activity Contributes to Apparent Increase in Diseases from Animals (Spectrum News 1) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Great Courses Professor Explains Characteristics of Novel Coronavirus (The Great Courses Daily) Quoted: Barry Fox, MD, Infectious Disease 

A Look at Wisconsin’s Changing Coronavirus Demographics (Spectrum News 1) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Do multiple strains of COVID impact the ability to make an effective vaccine? (Channel 3000) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

More COVID-19 News Features

June 2020

UW joins drug trial aimed at preventing major COVID-19 killer: Haywire immune response (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Quoted: David Andes, MD

Health Expert: Conflicting Guidance On Face Masks Confusing To Public (Wisconsin Public Radio) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Protests defy coronavirus guidelines, but health experts say engagement is 'essential.' Here's how protesters and police can reduce risk(FDL Reporter) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Nations Defeating COVID-19 Echoes Facing Down Diseases of the Past (The Great Courses Daily) Quoted: Barry Fox, MD

May 2020

Flu cases drop off as season ends, no clear timeline for COVID-19(NBC15) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus as the economy reopens(Madison365) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Questions linger as new research suggests election was linked to rise in coronavirus cases(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Public Health Doctor Advises Gradual, Monitored Reopening (Wisconsin Public Radio) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

No spike, but no certainty on fallout of Wisconsin election(StarTribune) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

When Will a Second Wave of Coronavirus Hit the U.S.? Here’s What You Can Do to Prepare(Prevention) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

UW-Madison faculty, students help create COVID-19 app for Wisconsinites (UW–Madison news) Quoted: Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH

Dr. Safdar: It's possible there will be a second wave of COVID-19 (Fox News) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

UW Health Doc: Many COVID-19 Patients Never Show Symptoms; Second Wave Possible (WTAQ) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

April 2020

Wisconsin officials say labs can run 7,500-plus coronavirus tests each day. So why are far fewer people being tested? (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD, and Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH

More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug in VA virus study (Associated Press) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Know Your Madisonian: UW Hospital doctor at forefront of COVID-19 pandemic response(Wisconsin State Journal) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Computer modeling shows social distancing might be needed into 2022 to avoid coronavirus resurgence(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Labs throughout Wisconsin could significantly increase COVID-19 testing — if they could get the needed chemicals(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

Should you wear a cloth mask? UW Health expert weighs in on face coverings(Spectrum News) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD

As Madison hospitals see more COVID-19 patients, they're trying experimental treatments (Wisconsin State Journal) Quoted: Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD, and Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH

The Latest: Wisconsin Health Official Says Progress Seen (U.S. News & World Report) Quoted: Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH

Division and Institution Distinctions

University Hospital Named One of the World's Best Hospitals

The UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) was named in Newsweek’s The World’s Best Hospitals of 2019 rankings. UWHC is one of 25 U.S. hospitals named to Newsweek’s “Top 100 Global” list, and ranked #14 of 250 U.S. Hospitals.

UWHC  is also listed on the Honor Roll of U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals"  – the 20 most highly ranked hospitals in the nation. The designation, which includes both University Hospital and UW Health at The American Center, puts the hospitals at no. 17 among the more than 4,500 analyzed.

William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Ranked Among Country's Top 10 VA Hospitals

In 2018, the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital was ranked 9th out of 170 VA medical centers in the country in the end of year hospital ranking.

The Madison VA Hospital also features a community living center that provides an additional 26 beds for sub-acute transitional care, rehabilitation, and hospice care.  

 UW Health Transplant Program Gains International Recognition

The UW Health Transplant Program has is internationally recognized for leadership in transplant surgery, organ preservation, and care of transplant patients. We have one of the largest transplant programs in the US, performing over 17,000 transplants.


Top Infection Control &  Antimicrobial Stewardship

The UW Hospital and Clinics was awarded the Partnership in Prevention award by the US DHHS, the Association of Professionals in Infection, and SHEA for its innovations in prevention of hospital acquired infections.

In 2018, UWHC was designated as an Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence by IDSA. Our comprehensive, multidisciplinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Program combines the expertise of infectious disease-trained pharmacists and providers from the Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Pharmacy, Department of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine, Medication Use Strategy and Innovation.

The pharmacodynamic approach to optimize use of existing antimicrobials for treatment and prevention of resistant bacterial and fungal infections is a discipline originally  pioneered by the late Infectious Disease Emeritus Professor, Dr. William Craig.

Leading in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality

UW Health has been designated a "Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality" by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC), the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, a distinction received by only two south central Wisconsin hospitals.