A Family Legacy: Meet the Kodalis

Drs. Kodali and Mathai with their son, Rajiv, at his MCW White Coat Ceremony in 2021.In September 2023, Satish Kodali, MD ’93, GME ’98, and his wife, Malaika Mathai, MD ’93, GME ’96, celebrated their 30-year class reunion at MCW.

The couple, who come from families of doctors, met at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on the first day of undergraduate classes. “It took a year and a half for us to date!” Dr. Mathai recalls with a laugh. “My parents were missionary doctors in Africa and completed their residencies at MCW. Medicine was the only thing that I wanted to do,” she adds.

(Pictured right: Drs. Kodali and Mathai with their son, Rajiv, at his MCW White Coat Ceremony in 2021.)

When asked about their time at MCW, their favorite memories were the enduring friendships they made. “We still visit our classmates,” shares Dr. Kodali. “During COVID, we had FaceTime cocktail hours.” Shortly before graduation, they received a couple’s residency match at MCW – their first choice! After Dr. Kodali’s residency in otolaryngology and Dr. Mathai’s in internal medicine, the couple went into private practice.

In 2015, Dr. Kodali became a full-time faculty member at his alma mater. “The area in which I could be most helpful and add the most value at MCW was on the business side,” he notes – referring to his current roles as the chief strategy officer for the Medical College Physicians adult specialty practice and senior medical director for the Froedtert & MCW ambulatory surgery centers.

Dr. Mathai continues her practice in internal medicine in New Berlin, Wisconsin. “My favorite experiences have been the relationships I have with my patients. I have seen some families for three generations,” she shares.

The Kodalis celebrate their graduation from MCW in 1993
The Kodalis celebrated their graduation from MCW in 1993 with Dr. Mathai’s mother, Rachel George, MD, GME ’78 (at center), who was a faculty member in the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine.

The Kodalis have three sons. Their youngest, Sanjiv, is a senior in college, and Ravi, their middle child, is an electrical engineer. After studying business, their oldest son, Rajiv, switched paths to follow in his parents’ footsteps and is a third-year medical student at MCW. “I really like helping people,” he says. Adds Dr. Mathai, “I want Rajiv to realize how lucky he will be to have a job like ours where he can touch so many souls.”

In gratitude for everything MCW has done for their family, the Kodalis make it a priority to give back to their alma mater. Over the years, the couple has contributed to several funds in honor of their mentors, including James M. Cerletty, MD ’58, FEL ’64, who served as the residency program director in the MCW department of medicine for nearly 40 years, and Robert J. Toohill, MD ’60, a beloved MCW faculty leader in otolaryngology.

Recently, the Kodalis made gifts to ThriveOn – a collaboration among MCW, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Royal Capital Group to improve the health of three historically Black/African American Milwaukee neighborhoods: Halyard Park, Harambee and Brewers Hill. “ThriveOn is a fantastic opportunity to support a part of the city that MCW should help,” shares Dr. Kodali.

Reminiscing on their impact over the past 30 years, the Kodalis have the following advice for Rajiv and his classmates as they begin their careers in medicine: 1) always try to do the right thing; 2) master the objective things in medical school and residency needed to be a good physician; 3) temper those objective learnings with empathy; 4) learn the business of healthcare so you are a better advocate for your patients and yourself, but never at the cost of doing the right thing; and 5) once you have done all the above, help your fellow physicians do the same. Upon hearing his parents’ wisdom, Rajiv smiles. “I wholeheartedly agree.”

– Rebecca Schulz

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