David Rakel, MD, a nationally recognized leader in integrative medicine, became the ninth chair in the 51-year history of the UW Department Family Medicine and Community Health (DFMCH) on July 12, 2021. He’s joined by Jennifer Edgoose, MD, MPH, who accepted the role of executive vice chair and will also serve as the department’s inaugural vice chair for Community Health, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

David Rakel, MD and Jennifer Edgoose, MD, MPH

David Rakel, MD, (left) and Jennifer Edgoose, MD, MPH, started their new leadership roles at DFMCH on July 12, 2021.

Both have a long history with the DFMCH. Rakel, a graduate of Baylor College of Medicine, was a member of the department’s faculty from 2001 to 2016 before he left for an opportunity to chair the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. During his time at UW–Madison, he founded the Integrative Medicine Program (now known as the Integrative Health Program) and received the Gold Foundation’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, the school’s highest honor for excellence and compassion in care. His team worked with more than 50 clinical systems within the Veterans Health Administration to implement changes to make care more personalized, proactive, and patient driven. Rakel is proud of his time at UW and is ready to lead the department through growth and transformation.

“The University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and Community Health’s superpower is understanding how humans and the communities in which they live find health and resilience,” said Rakel. “We will grow the science of salutogenesis, creating a better understanding of the origins of health. This focus invites a collaboration across all areas of the university that serves the people of Wisconsin and beyond. That is the Wisconsin Idea!”

Edgoose graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and joined the DFMCH faculty in 2010 with a focus on care of vulnerable populations and strategies to promote health equity and community engagement. Nationally, she provided leadership on the Health Equity Team for Family Medicine for America’s Health. In 2014, she received the Baldwin Lloyd Teaching Award from Madison residents. She serves as the director of the DFMCH Office of Community Health; director of the UWSMPH Diversity and Inclusion Advocates program; and chair and co-founder of the DFMCH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

“I look forward to supporting Dave and our department as we bridge our strengths with those of our communities to promote health for all people,” said Edgoose.

Rakel and Edgoose look forward to working together to move the department forward through collaboration and a unified vision that incorporates all aspects of equitable health. In a recent message to faculty and staff, Rakel urged the department to embrace this vision and praised the physicians, researchers and staff for their resilience and insight into dealing with complexity.

“We will persistently work towards health for ourselves, our health system, and the communities we serve,” concluded Rakel.

Published: July 2021