Dennis Maki, MD, Receives Wisconsin Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award

Dennis Maki, MD, Ovid O. Meyer Professor of Medicine (emeritus), Infectious Disease, received the Wisconsin Alumni Association's highest honor, its Distinguished Alumni Award, on October 11, 2019.

Maki has an international reputation as one of the fathers of modern-day hospital infection prevention. 

After earning his medical degree at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, as it was then called, he completed postgraduate training at Harvard and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He returned to the UW in 1974 and has served in numerous roles in the Department of Medicine and at UW Health over the past 46 years. They include chief of the department's Division of Infectious Diseases; hospital epidemiologist; chief and attending physician in the UW Hospital Trauma and Life Support Center; and staff critical care physician for the UW Electronic ICU.

Dr. Betsy Trowbridge congratulates Dr. Dennis Maki after he receives the WAA Distinguished Alumni Award

Maki's research on hospital-acquired infections has saved the lives of countless patients worldwide. Other research has focused on the clinical application of novel agents for the treatment of septic shock and the treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections. Doctors throughout the region refer their patients to Maki when they are in a quandary regarding diagnosis and treatment of complicated or life-threatening illnesses.

Robert N. Golden, MD, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, calls Maki a triple threat, referring to his expertise in education, research, and patient care. Maki has won more than a dozen teaching awards, and according to his fellow physician David Andes, MD, the William A. Craig Endowed Professor and division chief, Infectious Diseases, his outreach is unsurpassed by anyone in the history of the medical school.

Maki, a 1958 graduate of Edgar High School in Marathon County, personifies the Wisconsin Idea. He has visited virtually every hospital in the state of Wisconsin and has held visiting professorships throughout the world. His more than 370 research papers provide the scientific foundation for much of the infection-prevention practice used in hospitals around the world. He has built a nationally renowned UW infectious disease division and training program, which he led for more than three decades, and has served on literally hundreds of university, national, and international committees.

On top of this, he has been generous in his financial support of the university. A member of the Bascom Hill Society, he has given to many different areas of campus, including the School of Medicine and Public Health, the All Ways Forward Campaign, the Great People Scholarship Fund, and the Dr. William A. Craig Endowed Professorship Fund.

He and his wife, Gail Dawson Maki, have also made gifts to a number of local foundations and charitable entities, including Access Community Health Centers, Madison-Area Urban Ministry, the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation, and the Foundation for Madison Public Schools.

Maki has served as a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the United Kingdom National Health Service.

He has also been a member—and in several cases, president—of a long list of professional societies and organizations. Among other honors, in 2001 he won a UW–Madison Hilldale Award, and in 2009 he was named a Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus.

Photos: Top of page, Dr. Maki speaks at a 2015 UW School of Medicine and Public Health event. Middle of page, Dr. Maki is joined by Elizabeth "Betsy" Trowbridge, MD, Phillip August and Sarah Neely Herrmann Professor in General Internal Medicine and interim chair, Department of Medicine, after receiving his Distinguished Alumni Award in October 2019.

Resources