MMI Creates Distinguished Lectureship Fund to Honor Dr. Rod Welch

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Medicine and Public Health, and Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology are partnering to recognize the accomplishments of a talented scientist, administrator, and educator by establishing the: Rod Welch Distinguished Lectureship Fund.

Dr. Welch joined the faculty of the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at UW-Madison in 1982 and quickly rose to the rank of Full Professor in 1993. In 2000 he became the Chair of the Department, a position he held for 21 years when he stepped down and retired, becoming Professor Emeritus. As Department Chair, Dr. Welch built one of the top microbiology and immunology departments in the country.

Dr. Welch has always been highly engaged in service and teaching. He served in the Microbiology Graduate Program Admissions Committee multiple times, for multiple years, also chairing it on multiple occasions. This committee is the “lifeline” for the Graduate Program and has served as the basis of most of the research done in the Department. He was also in the faculty search committee from 1985-2021. For the School of Medicine and Public Health, he chaired the Basic Science chairs caucus, was on the University of Medical Foundation Board of Directors, on the board of the Wisconsin Partnership program, and co-chaired three chair searches (Oncology, Biomolecular Chemistry and Emergency Medicine). He served in the School of Medicine and Public Health Promotion Committee, the Medical Scholars, and Medical Students Admission committees. University-wide, he served on the Biological Sciences Planning Committee, Tenure Committee of the Biological Sciences Divisional Executive Committee, Faculty Senate, Graduate Program Review Committee, and the Graduate School Research Committee, among several others. He also served in the Board of Scientific Councilors at NIH, was in the Board of the Great Lakes Research Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, and served as an outside reviewer for multiple microbiology and immunology departments in the country.

On the teaching front, Dr. Welch has always been a proponent and avid teacher of undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. I note that in the first half of his career at UW-Madison, he taught bacteriology and mycology to the first-year medical students (approximately 20 lectures/seminars). This was then a semester long course in medical microbiology and immunology. In terms of mentoring, he trained an impressive number of undergraduate (67) and graduate (20) students. He also trained ten postdoctoral fellows, including Ph.Ds. and MDs. His trainees became professors in multiple universities, joined pharmaceutical companies or became physicians in multiple hospitals.

Dr. Welch has had an impressive research career. He published 112 manuscripts in many high-profile journals such as PNAS, mBio, and PLoS pathogens among others. He was also the recipient of multiple awards including The Robert Turell Endowed Chair for Infectious Diseases Research, elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, is a Romnes Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, and was a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences. The Pew scholar program identifies leaders in the field. Dr. Welch has always been extremely well funded during his career, including being a Principal Investigator in two multi-million-dollar U19 NIH grants. His research focused mostly on uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) that is the leading cause of urinary tract infections. He was a pioneer scientist who defined most virulence strategies in UPEC. He also investigated the development of several new anti-microbial therapies to hamper this highly multi-drug resistant pathogen. The U.S. health care system spends $2.5B each year to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). His standing as a leader in the field is obvious by the wealth of speaking engagements that he has and is set to do in multiple National and International conferences and Institutions.

Considering Dr. Welch’s remarkable achievements, the time has come to pay tribute to his exceptional leadership and contributions. We want to recognize the significant impact he has had on our department and the global community. Your support will help us establish an enduring legacy in his honor.

By endowing this lectureship in Dr. Welch’s name, the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at UW-Madison will have the financial resources to invite prominent individuals who are making substantial strides in their fields. These speakers will engage with our faculty, post-doctoral fellows, students, and the wider public, fostering enriching discussions and inspiring future leaders.

If you wish to make a donation to the fund, please use the follow link:

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