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Walter Hogan, MD, MCW's Longest-Serving Faculty Member, Dies Oct. 8

Walter Hogan, MD ’58, FEL ‘64, the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) longest-serving faculty member and a founder of the internationally esteemed “Milwaukee Group” of digestive disease experts, died on Saturday, Oct. 8. He was 91.

Dr. Hogan served on MCW’s faculty for 56 years beginning in 1964 until his retirement in 2020. Upon his retirement, he was bestowed the title Professor Emeritus of Medicine (Gastroenterology and Hepatology). During his career at MCW, he was a professor and chief of gastroenterology and hepatology in the department of medicine and professor of radiology.

“Dr. Hogan was one of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s most beloved and respected faculty members. His kindness, intellect, leadership, energy, mentorship, and wit impacted the lives of the patients he served and advanced the careers of hundreds of gastroenterologists who trained at MCW,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, MCW’s president and CEO.

“Walter Hogan and his colleagues in the ‘Milwaukee Group’ were among the first MCW faculty members to garner international recognition for our medical school,” said Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, MCW’s provost, executive vice president and the Julia A. Uihlein, MA, Dean of the School of Medicine. “His contributions as a physician, scientist, teacher, and leader help propel MCW’s growth in stature and quality.”

“Dr Hogan`s academic career was intertwined with the development of our division at MCW as well as the advancement of the art and science of gastroenterology in general,” said Reza Shaker, MD, FEL ’88, associate provost and the Joseph E. Geenen Professor and Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. “He was instrumental in incorporation, propagation and training/education of endoscopic techniques for diagnosis and management of GI disorders. He did all this with his characteristic humanity, humility, and humor.”

As a founder of the “Milwaukee Group” of digestive disease specialists, Dr. Hogan conducted pioneering studies on gastroesophageal reflux and the effects of alcohol on esophageal motility. The studies by him along with Drs Jerry Dodds and John Dent were the first to describe the central role of spontaneous relaxations of the lower esophageal sphincter in the occurrence of reflux. With Joseph Geenen, MD ’60, GME ’65, FEL ’67, he conducted landmark studies on sphincter of Oddi dysfunction and its impact on the gallbladder.

In 1987, Drs. Geenen and Hogan developed the Geenen-Hogan Classification of patients with sphincter of Oddi dysfunction, a bile duct disorder. The Geenen-Hogan Classification, also known as the “Milwaukee Biliary Group Classification,” became the universally used classification system to predict the clinical outcomes of sphincter of Oddi patients after endoscopic sphincterotomy.

Other members of the “Milwaukee Group” included: Wylie (Jerry) Dodds, MD, and Edward Stewart, MD, in gastrointestinal radiology; Konrad Soergel, MD, in gastroenterology; Stuart Wilson, MD, GME ’65, and Sushil Sarna, PhD, in surgery; and Richard Komorowski, MD ’67, GME ’72, in pathology.

Dr. Hogan graduated from the Marquette University School of Medicine (MCW’s predecessor) in 1958. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Milwaukee County General Hospital and was the medical school’s first fellow in gastroenterology. After completing his fellowship training, he joined the medical school’s faculty as chief of gastroenterology at the Zablocki VA Medical Center. He was promoted to professor in 1975 and was named co-chief of the division of gastroenterology in 1990. He was chief of gastroenterology from 1993-1996.

Dr Hogan authored over 250 publications, 400 abstracts, and 33 book chapters. He was one of the few physicians to have served as president of both the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) as well as the founding board member of the Dysphagia Research Society (DRS). He was the recipient of the AGA Janssen Award for Sustained Achievement in Digestive Sciences and received the ASGE’s highest honor, the Rudolf V. Schindler Award.

The Medical College of Wisconsin/Marquette Medical Alumni Association named Dr. Hogan as Alumnus of the Year in 1994. In 1995, he was the recipient of MCW’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest faculty, or staff honor. He was inducted as a member of MCW’s Society of Teaching Scholars in 2003.

In 2019, current and former MCW gastroenterology faculty members, fellows and residents contributed to create the Konrad H. Soergel, MD, and Walter J. Hogan, MD, Endowed Professorship. Kia Saeian, MD, GME ’96, FEL ’99, professor of gastroenterology and hepatology, is the inaugural holder of the endowed chair.

In a 2013 interview, Dr. Hogan reflected, “Every year when a fellow leaves gastroenterology and hepatology, we prepare a drawing – a caricature – where we put in the foibles or accomplishments that occurred when that individual was with us. We’ve put up about 125 of these caricatures in a rogues’ gallery. And as you sit there viewing these drawings, the memories waffle through your head and you think of the successful careers that have been launched.”

He concluded, “I’ve enjoyed the fact that here at MCW over a period of 50+ years, there has been a culture of collaboration that’s developed and continues today.”

Dr. Hogan was predeceased by his wife of 51 years, M. Rosalie Hogan, MD ’59. He is survived by four children and three grandchildren.

A Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 27, at Becker Ritter Funeral Home, from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m., with a sharing of memories and eulogies at 6:00 p.m. Additional Visitation on Friday, October 28, at St. Mary’s Visitation Parish, 1260 Church Street in Elm Grove, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. A Procession to St. Mary’s Cemetery will follow Mass. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Medical College of Wisconsin Class of 1958.

Read the full Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obituary on Dr. Hogan