Theresa Duello Associate Professor - UW Obstetrics and Gynecology, Madison WI

Theresa Duello, PhD
Associate Professor

Medical Sciences Center
1300 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706

Dr. Duello received her PhD in Human Anatomy from the University of Iowa in 1978 under the tutelage of Dr. Nicholas Halmi. She then pursued postdoctoral research training in Reproductive Endocrinology at Colorado State University and in Cell Biology at Yale University. She has been a faculty member in the School of Medicine and Public Health since 1982. The first twenty years of her career focused on cell and molecular studies of the regulation of hormone production by the pituitary and placenta. In 2002 she spent a sabbatical leave at the Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center focusing on culturally competent outreach to populations underrepresented in medical. She has integrated the knowledge gained into studies of the disparate burden of low birth weight and prematurity to specific populations as well into her efforts to recruit students underrepresented in STEM. In addition, she teaches undergraduate courses on health disparities and works as a Champion with the Center for Medicine After the Holocaust (CMATH) to design curricula to emphasize the need for medical history to inform our training of future health professionals and scientists.

Diversity Initiatives

Undergraduate Research Initiatives

Health Disparities courses

Center for Medicine After the Holocaust (CMATH)

Diversity Initiatives

In my first 25 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I often heard that our institution was not sufficiently diverse, because it is cold in Wisconsin and underrepresented (URM) students will not leave home to attend an institution out-of-state. As a scientist, I had not seen data to support these claims. In 2008 I set out to determine whether it was true that we had built it — a great university — but they won’t come.

First, I employed the principles of community-based outreach I learned while on sabbatical at the Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Second, I, a faculty member, showed up at institutions not previously visited by UW-Madison faculty recruiters. The students could not believe a faculty member actually came who could share their excitement about their research (not just hear about mine).

Third, I told the students I would help them go into higher education anywhere. Their success was my goal, my first concern.

Fourth, I revealed a specific strategy to enhance their admission at Research One institutions. In part this entailed making them aware of all the disciplines that fall under biomedical sciences, and demonstrating there are multiple avenues to work with any given professor given the interdisciplinary approach to research.

Fifth, I tried to convince them of the fallacy of basing their career decisions on five years of weather.

Is it true underrepresented students will not enroll in graduate programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison? No.

The graph below the increase of numbers of underrepresented students in the Endocrinology-Reproductive Physiology Graduate Training Program.

duello, phd

*Underrepresented students – first generation, low income, special needs, disabled, racial and ethnic minorities.

In 2014 I created my own office of Diversity Initiatives.

  • Phase I recruitment consists of outreach to make students aware of the reputation and opportunities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, collecting their contact information and list of interests, and disseminating it to partner programs
  • Phase II recruitment consists of a variety of ways to follow up with the students to convince them of the opportunities and encourage them to apply.
  • Phase III recruitment takes place when the students are invited to campus to interview.
  • Phase IV recruitment is the follow-up after the interview to convince them to matriculate.

I conduct Phase I recruitment for a number of graduate programs, which is both logical and cost-effective. Decentralization of efforts is not an advantage in this situation. This effort has been funded through Collaborative Recruitment Grants from the Biological Fellowships Committee of the Graduate School (Collaborative effort) with additional funds contributed by the partner programs (Joint effort). The amount contributed by the partner programs for the joint effort equals or exceeds the amount of the Collaborative Recruitment grants, thus, partner programs are shouldering the majority of this effort.

The big goal of the Diversity Initiative is for the recruitment successes to create an ‘institutional memory’ as to what works most effectively in order to substantially diverse the University. Diversity is about diversity of thought. Diversity of thought comes from a heterogeneous group of people with varied experiences. Varied experiences come – in part – from cultural diversity and inclusion of populations historically marginalized.

Undergraduate Research Initiatives

Research teaches analytical thinking. > Analytical thinking is required to succeed.

Dr. Duello has helped hundreds of UW students identify opportunities to conduct research. She had now placed general information on a website for you


Go to ‘’ > click on ‘Undergraduate Advice’.

Video: ‘Identifying Undergraduate Research Opportunities on Campus’.
Download: How to Approach a Professor to Work in a Laboratory

Video: ‘Converting a Resume to a Curriculum Vita’
Download: Mock Hybrid CV (template)


If you would then like to meet with Dr. Duello to discuss your specific research interests and to compile a list of professors to contact, send her an email at with times you are available to meet. She will get back to you about an appointment.


Consider taking 436:699 Directed Studies Companion (one credit) with Dr. Duello in conjunction with a Directed Studies project with any UW professor.

Dr. Duello often finds that students who have conducted Directed Studies or Independent Research are unable at the end of the semester to effectively communicate the hypothesis, the findings, and its importance.

This Directed Study will consist of a 1.5 hour discussion to be held once a week at a time to be determined. Approximately 1 hour a week will be required to complete assignments outside of class, including statements of the hypothesis, the research conducted, the research findings, and the significance of the research.


Sophomore/Junior/Senior status

Completion of Biology 152

Simultaneous enrollment in 699 Directed Studies with any UW scientist

Contact Dr. Duello at for information.

Health Disparities courses

Spring 2014-2015


Interdisciplinary L&S 502:152
Interdisciplinary CALS 494:152

Ways of Knowing Medicine and Society is a one-credit interdisciplinary course on the disparate burden of poor health to specific populations, i.e. 'health disparities'. Focus is placed on the preponderant burden of the major diseases - cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer- on ethnic minority, under-represented, and medically underserved populations. Emphasis is placed on identification of the social determinants of health disparities, the biological determinants of health disparities, and the effect of social factors on biological outcomes. Lectures/discussions also focus on protection of human beings participating in research as well as ethical issues associated with the sequencing of the human genome/advent of new technologies.

Class activities:

  • Everyone keeps a food diary
  • Everyone wears a pedometer
  • Everyone learns to use a Medline database search of the medical literature
  • Everyone locates a summer research fellowship at the NIH, NSF, CDC, or DHHS.


SOPHOMORES (or Consent of Instructor)
No course prerequisites

Note: Lectures and Discussion are on alternate weeks.

Lecture – Alternate Tuesdays, 10 – 10:50 AM beginning January 20 , 2015
270 Soils Building


Section 301 – Alternate Tuesdays at 10-10:50 AM beginning January 27 , 2015
L151 Education Bldg.

Section 302 – Alternate Tuesdays at 11-11:50 AM beginning January 27, 2015
134 Psychology Bldg.

Section 303 – Alternate Thursdays at 10-10:50 PM beginning January 29, 2015
3359 Engr Hall

Section 304 - Alternate Thursdays at 11-11:50 PM beginning January 29, 2015
1116 Biochemistry Bldg.

Grading: A, A/B, B, etc.

Teaching Philosophy: Education does not have to be painful.

Theresa M. Duello, PhD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology