About UW Health: What it means to be an academic medical center

Academic medical centers are home to physicians and researchers who are on the leading edge of their fields. They’re not just dispensing medicine, they’re creating new therapies and treatments that set the standard for care.
Medical Campus Aerial

Why it matters

The latest advances in care

UW is an academic health system. When you come here, it means you will receive medical care backed by the latest advances from leading experts in their fields.

Unlike most community hospitals, an academic health system is closely tied to a major research university. UW Health is linked to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and our doctors are also UW faculty members.

One of just two academic health systems in Wisconsin – and one of only 130 in the country – UW Health is sometimes called a “three-in-one” health system, because of our three focus areas:

  • Patient care – We provide you or your loved one with the most advanced care possible

  • Research – Our physicians and researchers are inventing new medications, treatments and medical technologies designed to provide even better care tomorrow than is available today

  • Education – Our faculty teaches the next generation of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to ensure they are ready to care for the patients of tomorrow

Many of our doctors go above and beyond treating their patients; they are also leading research efforts resulting in more effective, more humane treatments designed to extend both quality and length of life and cure patients of diseases that are still not curable.

Four UW Health urologists
Remarkable care
About UW Health

UW Health is part of a long UW-Madison tradition of excellence and innovation in the health sciences. From the first premedical course offered in 1887 through the opening of the Wisconsin General Hospital in 1924, UW Health physicians, faculty, staff and researchers have been guided by our commitment of providing remarkable healthcare to the patients and families throughout Wisconsin and beyond.

Innovation in care

A history of medical achievements

Through UW Health’s connection to the University of Wisconsin, our researchers have a long track record of medical milestones that goes back more than a century. Among our many notable achievements are the:

  • Discovery allowing Vitamin D content in foods to be enriched through irradiation, sparing children from the Vitamin D deficiency known as rickets (Harry Steenbock, PhD, 1923)

  • Invention of Mohs Surgery to remove mouth, lip and skin cancers (Dr. Frederic Mohs, 1930)

  • Performance of the first bone marrow transplant, a procedure that would eventually treat thousands of cancer patients each year (Dr. Fritz Bach, 1968)

  • Creation of the SPF (sun protection factor) rating system, allowing consumers to compare effectiveness of sunscreen products (Dr. Derek Cripps, 1974)

  • Development of the UW Solution that extends the life of organs outside of the body for use in transplants, making the gift of life available to more patients (Dr. Folkert Belzer, 1986)

  • Isolation and culturing of the first human embryonic stem cells, giving new hope to finding treatments for afflictions like Parkinson’s disease and diabetes (James Thompson, VMD, PhD, 1998).

  • Cardiovascular research proving 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 (Dr. Timothy Kamp, and James Thomson, VMD, PhD, 2009)

  • Speech-language research that successfully grows functional vocal-cord tissue in the laboratory, providing a major step toward restoring a voice to people who have lost their vocal cords to cancer surgery or other injuries (Nathan Welham, PhD, 2015)

Innovation through clinical trials

At UW Health, we continue to achieve innovations in care through clinical trials.

An important step in developing new medications and more effective treatments for medical conditions and diseases are clinical trials. Perhaps you have a friend whose original cancer has come back in another part of the body. If there are no more treatments available for your friend’s type of cancer, they may be offered the opportunity to join a clinical trial in which a new drug is given to patients to determine its effectiveness. This is the only way doctors can find out if new treatments provide better outcomes for patients than existing treatments.

As an academic health system, UW Health can offer patients access to a wide variety of clinical trials for diseases and conditions such as cancer, asthma, skin conditions and more.

Learn about clinical trials at UW Health

Why choose UW Health

Caring for our patients and our community

For more than a decade, UW Health has been ranked the No. 1 hospital in Wisconsin by U.S. News & World Report. It’s because we offer you every facet of health care - doctors and nurses, therapists and social workers, researchers and basic scientists, and many more – who possess an unshakable commitment to serving our patients.

Groundbreaking research, programs that are nationally ranked for their quality of care, the leading experts in their fields and a history of innovations – all combine to ensure that you receive the very best care whether your situation is routine or complex.

A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our vision for ourselves, our system and our community

At UW Health we're working towards health equity for all. In order to truly improve the health of our patients and communities, DEI works health and community relations partners to build programs and services to address systemic and structural inequities.