The Latest

  • January 18, 2018

    Remembering Colleague and Friend, Dr. Jeff Davis.

    Dr. Jeff Davis, Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases and State Epidemiologist for the State of Wisconsin, passed away on Tuesday, January 16th. During his esteemed career, Dr. Davis made vast contributions to vectorborne disease epidemiology and public health. His significant contributions include helping to identify the infectious agent that causes Lyme disease, to describe the clinical characteristics and ecology of Lyme disease, to characterize the epidemiology of babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and arboviral illnesses in Wisconsin, and to evaluate the effectiveness of serologic testing and treatment options for bacterial tickborne diseases. His expertise, enthusiasm, mentorship, and kindness will be greatly missed by all who knew him. 

    Jeff was a member of our MCE-VBD Scientific Advisory Board.  We echo the thoughts and sentiment of this message above, from our colleagues at the Department of Health Services.  We are so grateful to have known and learned from and worked alongside Jeff.  He will be missed greatly.

    From PROMED mailing 1/18/2018

    Jeffrey Paul Davis died on [16 Jan 2018] at the University of Wisconsin Hospital. He was born in Milwaukee on [22 Aug 1945] to Mynette Babrove Davis and Maurice Davis. He was the beloved husband of Roseanne Clark and father of Eli and Ethan Clark-Davis; brother of Susan Davis Silver (Larry); brother-in-law of Debbie and Ron Fellman and Russell and Lori Clark; Uncle of Ben and Kate Silver; Becky, Matt, and Daniel Fellman and Jesse, Joshua and Justin Clark.  

    Jeff was the Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases and the State Epidemiologist for the State of Wisconsin for over 40 years. He was also Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics and Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He attended Whitefish Bay High School, University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society. Jeff attended the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and did his Pediatric Residency at the University of Florida and completed his Pediatric Infectious Disease Fellowship at Duke University Medical Center. 

    Jeff was proud to have served in the Epidemiological Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and he continued to mentor numerous EIS fellows as well as medical students interested in public health. He was passionate about public health, especially the health of the people of Wisconsin. He was also a brilliant medical detective, making the connection between toxic shock syndrome and tampons and on the team that identified the infectious agent transmitted by ticks that causes Lyme disease, and he led numerous significant public health investigations of outbreaks in Wisconsin, including the identification of cryptosporidium in the water supply in Milwaukee affecting over 800 000 residents. This was the largest waterborne disease outbreak in documented United States history. Dr.

    Davis' contributions to the fields of infectious disease, epidemiology and public health are reflected in his over 250 publications. In addition, Jeff was an avid sports enthusiast and loved watching Badger football and basketball, the Packers, PGA and tennis tournaments, and attending Madison Symphony Orchestra concerts and travel. 

    Jeff was a truly wonderful friend and neighbor and will be tremendously missed for his gentle kindness, sense of humor, and his enthusiastic sharing of his vast knowledge of all things music and sports. Jeff greatly appreciated his walks with his dog, Bodhi. 

    Jeff's family has deep gratitude to his medical team at UW Hospital and Clinics and the staff of the TLC. 

    The funeral will be this Friday, [19 Jan 2018] at 2:00 pm. The service will be held at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive in the Landmark Auditorium. Following the service, burial will take place at Natural Path Sanctuary at the Farley Center, 2299 Spring Rose Road, Verona.

    In lieu of flowers, donations in Jeff's memory will be greatly appreciated and may be made to the Jeffrey P. Davis, MD Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin Foundation. This scholarship will support medical students who are dedicated to a career in public health.

    Please share a memory at <>.



  • January 12, 2018

    Reflecting on our first year. . .

    2017, our first year in action came to an end

    Let us tell you briefly how it went . . .

    In January, we were allowed to get started

    In February, everybody realized this was not for the fainthearted


    In March, we welcomed the first newly-hired members of the team

    In April, we planned our field efforts or so it may seem


    In May, the field season takes off in full glory

    In Wisconsin in June, the first Aedes albopictus was collected, an interesting story


    In July, monthly working group meetings inspire and connect

    In August, the end of summer is near, it was time to reflect


    In September, fellows went to hurricane-hit Texas to help mosquitoes get identified and sorted

    In October, seven Certificates of Public Health Entomology were awarded


    In November, the students miss the field season and classes are hard to bare

    In December, we lost dear Robin Mittenthal, our Center Coordinator and human being extraordinaire


    A tough loss to deal with, but look at all the above

    He made it happen, and is remembered with gratitude and love


    We hope you will cherish your blessings and loved ones 

    Your friends from far away, your daughters and sons, 


    Enjoy the cold season, without mosquito and tick

    We can tell you one thing, they will be back quite quick

    - Bieneke Bron, PostDoctoral Associate MCE-VBD


  • January 12, 2018

    Remembering our friend, Robin Mittenthal​

    Robin Mittenthal, who touched hundreds of student lives as manager, advisor, mentor and field course leader for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health, died suddenly this weekend following an accident at his farm.

    “Robin was a very thoughtful, passionate family man,” says Sherry Tanumihardjo, professor of Nutritional Sciences and director of the undergraduate certificate. “His family was the most important thing to him. Some of this passion rubbed off in his mentoring of hundreds of students.”

    Mittenthal managed the certificate program from just after its inception in 2011 to spring 2017, when he became center coordinator at the Upper Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease.

    Employed by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), he was a central contributor to the development and coordination of the undergraduate certificate. The program is co-sponsored by GHI and CALS.

    Robin was one of the best advisers and mentors I had on campus and I always looked forward to reading his global health news emails #RIPRobin #globalhealthcert
    — Trevor Cooper, MS (@TLCswerve) December 5, 2017

    As an administrative manager, Mittenthal dedicated countless hours organizing the program and advising students. “Robin was involved right from the start of the undergraduate certificate in global health,” says Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute. “The early success of the new program was due, in no small part, to his unfailing dedication and caring for the experience of each and every student.”

    “Robin was an intelligent, caring and loved advisor by hundreds of students,” says Lori DiPrete Brown, associate director for education and engagement at the Global Health Institute and an undergraduate certificate leader. “He cared deeply about education, the environment and the way food systems related to health, but most importantly, his family was the center of his life.”

    Mittenthal’s vibrant spirit as an advisor and educator predated his engagement with the certificate program. He served as an agricultural advisor with the Peace Corps in The Gambia during the mid 1990s and worked as a librarian and teacher for K-12 students.

    This is such sad news. Robin was one of my most thoughtful advisors at UW. RIP via @badgerherald
    — Aliya Iftikhar (@aliyazeba) December 4, 2017

    At the Upper Midwestern Regional Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease, Mittenthal was responsible for coordinating partners in five states and tracking the center’s progress in addressing vector-borne disease challenges. Susan Paskewitz and Lyric Bartholomay, co-directors of the Center, admired the radiance Mittenthal brought with him.

    “People have said so many amazing things about him — his passion for what he did, caring for students, sense of humor and intelligence,” Paskewitz says. “One of our students said he was like a perfect human being.”

    In a GoFundMe campaign to contribute to the education savings accounts for Mittenthal’s children, Bartholomay wrote: “Robin Mittenthal had a rare gift for connecting to other people. He gave us his time, his undivided attention, his radiant smile, his stories that spanned an unbelievable repertoire of life experiences, his infectious enthusiasm, his thanks and his encouragement. In so doing, he touched lives of countless colleagues in entomology and CALS, of hundreds of undergraduate advisees in the Global Health certificate, and of the students, staff and colleagues in and surrounding a new center on campus for mosquito and tick-borne disease.”

    UW senior KM Barnett met with Mittenthal last week about plans for next semester’s work at the center. The short meeting became two hours to visit about her long- and short-term career goals. She remembers: “At the end of the meeting, he said to me, ‘I am so excited for all the things you’ll do.’ His words warmed me with comfort and confidence. … I am grateful for Robin’s keen ability to listen and say the right thing at just the right time.”

    Sweta Shrestha, program manager for the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship Program at the Population Health Institute, worked closely with Mittenthal during her time as GHI’s assistant director for education, especially in the early stages of the certificate program. “He was larger than life, and he cared so deeply,” she says. “There are so many students he’s impacted. He wanted to nurture every student, and he did — he put everyone else ahead of himself. If a student needed a recommendation letter and he was up to his ears in work, he wouldn’t hesitate to say yes.”

    Across campus, students mourn. Samuel Park, a senior with a Certificate in Global Health, remembers Mittenthal as a kind-hearted, passionate advisor. “He will forever be remembered as a shining light in the campus community who inspired many, many students to pursue careers in support of our collective health,” says Catherine Goslin (’17), who earned her undergraduate certificate.

    A caring mentor and tireless advocate for students. You will be missed Robin.
    — Duncan Mahood (@DuncanMahood) December 5, 2017
    Unbelievable loss to #globalhealth and @UWMadison. Thinking about Robin Mittenthal, his family, and my @UWGlobalHealth family right now, where it all started for me
    — Eric Obscherning (@EricObscherning) December 4, 2017

    During Mittenthal’s tenure, the certificate expanded to reach hundreds of students. It has become the largest undergraduate certificate on campus. “The connections he made across campus were incredible,” says Devika Suri, who worked with Mittenthal as an undergraduate certificate advisor. “Everyone knew him and respected him. He was able to bridge different areas of campus to bring people together and collaborate.”

    Mitthenthal’s impact resounded across campus. Prior to working for the certificate, he served as chairman of the board overseeing the Eagle Heights Community Gardens while pursuing his Ph.D. in entomology, studying how organic fertilizer affected insect pests.

    “He tried to infuse his love of the land and earth with his job,” Suri says. “Farming was his love and passion, and his dream was always to have a farm.”

    A dream that came to life in Little Mammoth Berry Farm, LLC, a farm on a beautiful plot in Belleville, Wisconsin, that will reflect the energy and compassion of Mittenthal, it’s builder, for years to come.

    Mittenthal was 43. He is survived by his wife, Daniella Molle, and their two children.

    “He was a salt of the earth kind of guy,” Shrestha says. “He was so good, and so honest. The spaces he made for students were his way of showing how much he cared about global health, and the spaces the land makes for us.”

    Mittenthal was remembered at grief sessions for faculty and staff, and students, Tuesday.

    His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Avenue. Visitation for family and close friends begins at 10 a.m. His obituary has been posted.

    To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, click here.

    By Yusra Murad/ December 6, 2017

    Photo by George Hesselberg/Wisconsin State Journal


  • November 15, 2017

    A Vector-borne Illness Case Study -- Illinois Man Nearly Dies from Tick Bite

    Dr. Ken Runkle, Vector Control Program Manager for the IL Dept. of Public Health (and a partner of MCE-VBD) has published a case study of an immunocompromised person simultaneously infected with three tick-borne illnesses. No death involved, fortunately, but a good lesson for clinicians (and outdoorsy types), especially as MCE-VBD partners such as Mayo Clinic's Dr. Bobbi Pritt find increasingly many ticks that are carrying multiple pathogens.


  • November 9, 2017

    Practical statistics and models to understand vector-borne diseases -- workshop Feb. 8-9 2018 now open for registration!

    Statistics and modeling are powerful tools for studying, predicting, and perhaps controlling vector-borne disease (VBD), but many VBD-related professionals are either unfamiliar with these tools, uncomfortable with them, or both.  If that describes you, please explore a newly developed workshop offered by three faculty from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Learn more here!


  • October 26, 2017

    Profile of MCE-VBD Research Fellow Matthew Springer

    It's not quite true that Matt Springer spent his summer working with rabbits, tigers, and ticks, but sort of...  Read on to learn more!  


  • October 18, 2017

    Profile of MCE-VBD Research Fellow Mariah Schrack

    Just as mosquitoes move from being water animals to creatures of the air, Mariah Schrack spent her MCE-VBD research fellowship with Professor Ryan Smith at Iowa State University living two very different lives.  


  • October 16, 2017

    Profile of MCE-VBD Research Fellow Bridget ("Bridie") Hulsebosch

    Communities across the United States and around the world spend millions of dollars treating bodies of water with larvicides, chemicals designed to kill mosquito larvae or keep them from growing properly to adulthood.  Given the cost of the practice, you might think there's good proof that it works, but evidence for larviciding is actually quite mixed.  Working MCE-VBD-affiliated researcher Professor Justin Harbison (Loyola University) and Chicago-area public health partners, Bridie Hulsebosch spent summer 2017 trying to figure out what works, what doesn't, and why.  Read on to see what she says about the experience.


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