Dr. Ellen M. Hartenbach, a gynecologic oncologist and expert in gynecologic cancer clinical trials, will become the next chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

As a faculty member in the department since 1995, Hartenbach has held numerous leadership roles and established several unique training practices and programs, including the UW Obstetrics and Gynecology Rural Residency track, which is the first of its kind in the United States. She has served as the department’s vice chair of education and faculty development since 2007 and foresees a bright future that builds on the exceptional strengths of the department.

             “I have witnessed the incredibly positive trajectory of our department over the past 27 years and without a doubt, we have the capacity to be the best OB-GYN department in the nation. Our commitment to patients and leadership in reproductive health shines through,” said Hartenbach. She noted a 13th in the nation rank in gynecology by U.S. News and World Report and recognized the department’s talented faculty physicians, who care for patients in the largest labor and delivery program in Wisconsin.

“We are breaking ground in other areas as well,” she said. “Our educational programs are highly regarded models for other institutions, and our research efforts are advancing discoveries that promote women’s health.”

A member of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, she directs the center’s Gynecologic Oncology Disease Oriented Team, which brings together researchers and medical professionals to translate scientific discoveries for use in gynecologic cancer care.

Hartenbach has led and co-led landmark clinical trials that established standard treatments for advanced ovarian cancer. Her research has also focused on evaluating surgical methods for treating pelvic cancer, diagnosis of pelvic cancers and monitoring bone density in cancer survivors.

Broader reproductive health issues such as access to care and disparities in women’s health care have been key focuses. For example, a study by Hartenbach’s team found that it is more common for those who give birth in a rural area to experience enough blood loss during labor to require a blood transfusion shortly after giving birth. This points to specific maternity and blood banking service needs at rural hospitals that deserve further attention and resources.

Hartenbach earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Detroit and completed her medical degree and residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Missouri. She completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of Minnesota.

She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and has received the Champion in Women’s Health Award from the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation.

Hartenbach’s multi-faceted leadership experience and commitment to the department’s core values make her well poised to be its next leader, according to Dr. Robert N. Golden, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Hartenbach will be leading this important department and guiding its future,” he said. “Her dedication and vision for integrating clinical care, research and education in advancing women’s health will guide the evolution of this remarkable program.”

Hartenbach’s appointment will be effective Sept. 1, 2022.

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