Hershel Raff_Academic Profile

Hershel Raff, PhD, FAAAS, FAPS

Professor, Medicine, Physiology and Surgery; Director, Endocrine Research Laboratory


  • Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center
    2801 W. KK River Pkwy., Suite 260
    Milwaukee, WI 53215

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 is the Director of the Endocrine Research Laboratory at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center of the Aurora Research Institute. 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


  • Faculty Opinions (Faculty of 1000), Physiology, Head of the Endocrinology Section
  • Editorial Board, FASEB BioAdvances
  • UpToDate Author/Editor for Clinical Laboratory Testing – Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal Function
  • Associate Editor of Endocrinology
  • The Pituitary Society - Position Statement Committee – Effects of Opioids on Pituitary Function (2021)
  • Editorial Board, Journal of the Endocrine Society

MCW Internal

  • Course Director, M2 Endocrinology/Reproduction Curriculum
  • 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 Awards Committee
  • Graduate Studies Council Course Evaluation Committee
  • Graduate Studies Council - Rank Committee
  • Medical School Curriculum Task Force – Principle 1 Committee
  • Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment (AHW) Merit Reviewer

Aurora Health Care/Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center Internal

  • Chairman, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  • Radiation Safety Committee
  • Advocate Aurora Research Institute – Seed Grant Review Committee (May 2020)
  • Advocate Aurora Research Institute, 2020 Neuroscience Intramural Research Award Executive Council

Research Interests

Dr Raff's laboratory has two main research areas of interest. His basic research on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis focuses on the short- and long-term consequences of neonatal hypoxia. His laboratory has discovered that activation of the synthetic pathway for corticosterone (the main glucocorticoid of the rodent) by neonatal hypoxia is mediated by a novel second-messenger cascade. 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.

Dr. Raff is heavily involved in medical, graduate, pharmacy and undergraduate education. He is Course Director of the second year medical student Endocrinology/Reproduction Integrated Unit. He teaches first year endocrine physiology to medical and pharmacy students and Advanced Endocrinology for graduate students and Endocrine Clinical Fellows. 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 role of androgens and corticosteroids in the development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis 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.