University of Wisconsin
School of Medicine and Public Health

Dawn Davis, MD, PHD



MADISON, WI 53705-2281

(608) 263-2443


  • 1995-2003
    MD, PhD - Medical Scientist Training Program
    University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
    PhD, Department of Pathology
  • 1991 - 1995
    BS with Honors, Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    University of Wisconsin - Madison


  • 2003-2005
    Internal Medicine-Research/Categorical Pathway
    University of Washington - Seattle, WA


  • 2005-2008
    Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship - Research Pathway
    Postdoctoral Research
    University of Wisconsin - Madison

Board Certification

  • Internal Medicine, 2006
    Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, 2008

Current Appointments

  • Associate Professor
    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
    Director of Research – Endocrine Division
    Department of Medicine , Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism
  • Section Chief, Endocrinology
    William S Middleton VA Hospital, Madison, WI Staff Physician

Professional Activities

  • Co-Director, Integrated Program in Endocrinology (iPEND)
    Integrated program in endocrinology, reproductive endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism – bringing together PhD training program, research collaborations, research seminars, core resource development across multiple departments. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Chair-Elect, Midwest Region
    National Council Member
    American Federation for Medical Research
  • Editorial Board – Journal of Investigative Medicine, Endocrine Today

Honors and Awards

  • 2015     Puestow Research Award – University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine – junior member of faculty who has made significant research contribution to medicine
  • 2014     American Federation for Medical Research Junior Physician Investigator Award
  • 2013     UW Health Patient Experience Physician Champion Award
  • 2013     American Federation for Medical Research Scholar Award
  • 2010     Excellence in Endocrine Teaching Award
  • 2008     Dickie Research Award – University of Wisconsin – Department of Medicine; for significant research contributions made toward advancing the field of medicine during fellowship

Clinical Interests

Dr. Davis sees patients through UW Hospital and Clinics and at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. She has a broad clinical practice, with a special interest in diabetes, hypoglycemic disorders, genetic disorders in endocrinology and diabetes, adrenal disorders, pituitary disease, and obesity.

Research Interests

Laboratory Research

Dr. Davis runs a federally funded research lab focused on pancreatic beta cell biology.  One area of focus is on understanding the mechanisms underlying the growth response in the beta cell.  Beta cells normally do not grow, but can be stimulated to divide and expand in response to certain stimuli.  When faced with insulin resistance and increased demand for insulin during pregnancy or in the setting of obesity, the beta cell will divide and overall beta cell mass is increased.  Conversely, one of the defects in type 2 diabetes is a loss of overall beta cell mass leading to insufficient insulin production.  In addition, type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune destruction of the beta cell, although there is evidence that a small population of beta cells may continue to attempt to replicate and expand in the setting of ongoing autoimmune attack.  Understanding the mechanisms of beta cell proliferation that occur naturally in these adaptive settings may help us identify new therapeutic targets that can help drive beta cell proliferation in the patient with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, a recent islet transplant, or potentially even type 1 diabetes in combination with immune therapies.

A second area of interest is in beta cell death, or apoptosis.  Numerous stressors lead to increased beta cell apoptosis in early type 1 diabetes and in type 2 diabetes. We are also studying the ways that the pancreatic islet adapts to stressors and promotes beta cell survival.

Understanding the mechanisms of beta cell growth and survival that occur naturally in these adaptive settings may help us identify new therapeutic targets that can help drive beta cell proliferation in the patient with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, a recent islet transplant, or potentially even type 1 diabetes in combination with immune therapies.

Clinical Research

Dr. Davis also conducts clinical research in collaboration with a number of other investigators. She has led a study to understand the mechanisms of hypoglycemia in gastric bypass surgery patients and to test a novel treatment for this disorder. She has ongoing collaborative studies looking at biomarkers for diabetes, novel dietary interventions for weight loss and diabetes prevention, and the treatment of diabetes in hospitalized patients.

Lab website

Search for Dawn Davis' literature abstracts on PubMed

  1. *K.A. Krautkramer, A.K. Linnemann, D.A. Fontaine, A.L. Whillock , T.W. Harris, G.J. Schleis, N.A. Truchan, L. Marty-Santos, J.A. Lavine, O. Cleaver, M.E. Kimple, D.B.Davis. “Tcf19 is a novel islet factor necessary for proliferation and survival in the INS-1 beta cell line”, (2013) Am J Physiol –Endo & Metab.305(5):E600-10. PMID 23860123, PMC3761170.
  2. G.M. Campos, M. Ziemelis, R. Paparodis, M. Ahmed, D.B. Davis. “Laparoscopic reversal of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass: Technique and Utility for Treatment of Endocrine Complications” (2014) Surg Obes Relat Diseases, 10(1):36-43. (PMID 24120983. PMC n/a).
  3. A. K. Linnemann, M. Baan and D.B. Davis, “Pancreatic beta cell proliferation in response to obesity” (2014) Advances in Nutrition, 5(3):278-88. (PMID 24829474, PMC4013180)
  4. *A.K. Linnemann, J.C. Neuman, T.J. Battiola, M.E. Kimple, D.B. Davis. “Glucagon-like peptide-1 regulates transcription and secretion of cholecystokinin from b-cells”, (2015), Molecular Endocrinology, 29(7):978-987. (PMID 25984632, PMC4484781)
  5. *M. Baan, J. Bushkofsky,C.R. Kibbe, T. Harris, D. Sherman, D.B. Davis. “Transgenic expression of the human growth hormone minigene promotes pancreatic beta cell proliferation”, AJP:Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, (2015), 309(7):R788-94. (PMID 26202070, PMC4631542)
  6. *J.A. Lavine*, C. Kibbe*, M. Baan, S. Sirinvaravong, H.M. Umhoefer, K.A. Engler, L.M. Meske, K.A. Sacotte, D.P. Erhardt, D.B. Davis. “Cholecystokinin expression in the b-cell leads to increased b-cell area in aged mice and protects from streptozotocin-induced diabetes and apoptosis”, (2015), AJP:Endocrinology&Metabolism, 309(10):E819-28 (PMID 26394663, PMC in progress). * - co-first authors
  7. D.A. Fontaine, D.B. Davis. “Attention to background strain is essential in metabolic research: C57BL/6 and the International Knockout Mouse Consortium”, (2016), Diabetes 65(1):25-33. PMID26696638
  8. M. Baan, K.J. Krentz, D.A. Fontaine, D.B. Davis. “Successful in vitro fertilization and generation of transgenics in Black and Tan Brachyury (BTBR) mice”, Aug 2016, Epub ahead of print; Transgenic Res. PMID 27515175