Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education

About Us

The Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Institute for the Transformation of Medical Education was established in early 2017 through a transformative investment to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) from the Kern family, the Kern Family Foundation, and Stephen and Shelagh Roell. MCW was honored to host these guests in launching the Kern Institute and the Kern National Network for Caring and Character in Medicine (KNN) in a ceremony that was also attended by the founding members from each of the KNN medical schools.

Mission | Vision | Core Values



The Kern Institute is dedicated to advancing a new foundation for medical education based on character, competence, and caring. We are advancing innovation by applying human-centered design methodology and the principles of the entrepreneurial mindset: curiosity, connections, and creating value.

The Kern Institute is supported by five pillars dedicated to transforming faculty, students, and curriculum, as well as fostering culture and systems change and cross-pillar work. The Kern National  Network for Caring and Character in Medicine (KNN) undergirds these pillars and helps ensure the innovations developed, both through the Kern Institute, and collaboratively with our partner schools, are positioned and ready to be adopted into interprofessional practice across medical schools.

The KNN is a collaboration of seven medical schools committed to joining forces and building on each other’s strengths to drive innovation and advance nationwide transformation in educating learners across the continuum, from pre-medical school through to physician practice. The partner schools of the KNN are:

  • The Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine
  • Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
  • Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
  • University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

The Kern Institute and KNN’s commitment to advancing character, competence, and caring in physician development and training is critical to providing patients, families, and communities with compassionate care, delivered with integrity.



To cultivate physicians who advance the Triple Aim of Medical Education – character, competence, and caring as demonstrated by the following:

  • Strong character and good judgment in attributes such as fairness, honesty, kindness, leadership, trust, integrity, and teamwork
  • Resilience, compassion, and team-readiness with strong interpersonal and professional skills
  • Commitment to life-long learning
  • Leadership for optimized health care quality
Core Values

Core Values

Developed in collaboration with the Kern Institute and KNN, the following core values guide our work:

  • Trust, respect, and genuineness
  • Commitment and mutual accountability by all partners to shared mission and goals
  • Open communication with flexibility and compromise
  • Focus on strengths and assets
  • Shared resources and credit
  • Commitment to entrepreneurial mindset and human-centered design approaches
  • Attainable, measurable objectives with data-driven decisions



Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern established The Kern Family Foundation in 1998, a grant making organization dedicated to ensuring that the rising generation has access to the opportunities that made their success possible. In 2006, the Kerns sold the remainder of their business, Generac Power Systems, and used a significant portion of the profit to grow the Foundation.

In keeping with their vision, the Foundation enriches American lives by promoting the value of work, developing the formation of good character, increasing educational achievement – particularly in science, technology, engineering and math – and instilling an entrepreneurial mindset, especially in undergraduate engineering students.

The Foundation intentionally focuses on systemic change, rather than charity, by funding broad impact, long-term programs. You can learn more about our specific programs and networks on their website.

Contact Us

Kern Institute
Medical College of Wisconsin
8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Suite M1990
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 955-4915
The Kern Institute Google map location