Hershel Raff_Academic Profile

Hershel Raff, PhD, FAAAS, FAPS

Professor, Medicine, Physiology and Surgery


  • HRC 4150

Contact Information

General Interests

Physiology, Endocrinology, Clinical Chemistry


Johns Hopkins University, PhD - Environmental Physiology
University of California-San Francisco, Postdoctoral Fellowship in Endocrinology



Adrenal, Stress, Cushing’s syndrome, Adrenal Insufficiency

Secondary Appointments

  • Physiology and Surgery in the MCW School of Medicine
  • MCW School of Pharmacy
  • Biomedical Sciences, Marquette University

Hershel Raff is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine and also a Professor in the MCW Pharmacy School. He holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Physiology and Surgery. He received a BA in Music from Union College in Schenectady, NY. He earned his PhD in Environmental Physiology from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was a post-doctoral fellow in Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Dr. Raff came to MCW in 1983 as an Assistant Professor and rose to the rank of Professor in 1991. He is also an Adjunct Professor in Biomedical Sciences at Marquette University.

Leadership Positions


  • Associate Editor of Endocrinology
  • UpToDate Author/Editor for Clinical Laboratory Testing – Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal Function
  • Editorial Board, Journal of the Endocrine Society
  • Faculty Opinions (Faculty of 1000), Physiology, Head of the Endocrinology Section

MCW Internal

  • Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW) Merit Reviewer
  • 2022 We Care Fund Scientific Review Committee, Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Reviewer
  • Course Director, Medical Student Endocrinology/Reproduction Unit
  • Course Director, Introduction to Organ Systems Physiology for Graduate Students
  • Faculty Advisor, Medical Student Assembly
  • Clinical and Translation Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin (CTSI), CTSI 
  • Scientific Review Oversight Committee
  • Medical School Nominating Committee
  • Medical School Curriculum and Evaluation Committee (CEC)
  • Graduate Studies Council Course Evaluation Committee
  • Graduate Studies Council - Rank Committee

Research Interests

Dr. Raff’s basic research focuses on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the short-and long-term consequences of neonatal stress and therapeutics. His translational research focuses on the interaction of obesity and pain in human adolescents. His clinical research focuses on the development of diagnostic endocrine tests and, in particular, using the measurement of salivary cortisol to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in a variety of human diseases and stress models and the development of cortisol assays to use in ACTH stimulation testing.

Dr. Raff is heavily involved in medical, graduate, pharmacy and undergraduate education. He is Course Director Endocrinology/Reproduction Integrated Course for medical students in their preclinical phase. He teaches first year endocrine physiology to medical and pharmacy students and Endocrine Clinical Fellows. He is the course director of the Introduction to Organ Systems Physiology for first year graduate students. Dr. Raff is the author of two textbooks: Vander’s Human Physiology, an undergraduate textbook, and Medical Physiology: A Systems Approach, a medical student-level textbook. He also teaches Applied and Rehabilitative Systems Physiology at Marquette University College of Health Science. He was an inaugural inductee into the MCW Society of Teaching Scholars in 1991 and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha as a Faculty Member by the MCW senior medical student class of 2005.

Laboratory Studies

  • Evaluating the interaction of neonatal stress and common clinical interventions on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and metabolism in an animal model of human prematurity.
  • Studying the role of the HPA axis in relapse of opioid addiction in a rat model of sleep disruption.
  • Using a newly developed liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method to measure salivary cortisol and cortisone in the diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome.
  • Evaluation of the ACTH (cosyntropin) stimulation test for the diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency utilizing new generation cortisol assays.
  • Measuring serum and salivary biomarkers in patients with mild traumatic brain injury and obesity.