Dr. David Poetker '93

As a member of the Norse swim team from 1989 to 1993 David Poetker set school records in the 500-yard freestyle, the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 1,650-yard freestyle. He was honored as a member Luther’s Athletic Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility 10 years after graduation… But it is Dr. Poetker's notable work in medical science since graduating with majors in biology and Spanish that has placed him in the spotlight.

After Luther, David earned a master’s degree in biology from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  There he was involved in teaching and doing research at the Human Gene Therapy Research Institute.  David assisted in the establishment of an FDA-approved facility for the production of materials for human gene therapy clinical trials and helped establish a stem cell laboratory for autologous bone marrow transplants.

David went on to earn a medical doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2001. At Iowa, he was a member of the Smile Program, organizing and funding trips to third world countries to perform surgeries on children with cleft palates.  David also helped organized medical outreach programs in the local community as a Student Ambassador. 

Following medical school, David completed a residency in Otolaryngology or Ear, Nose, and Throat at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee.  While in residency, David was awarded an American Academy of Otolaryngology research grant to conduct research on a vaccine for Papillomavirus, a virus often associated with certain cancers.  In 2004, David received another research grant to study the safety of “bionic ears”, known as cochlear implants.  David was honored with Luther’s very first Young Alumni Award in 2004.

David completed a fellowship in rhinology and sinus surgery at Oregon Health and Sciences University, and rejoined the staff at The Medical College of Wisconsin in 2007.  He is the director of the otolaryngology student clerkships and the director of the otolaryngology residency program. He was named the Outstanding Medical Student Educator in 2008, and he continues to share his knowledge with medical students and resident physicians, in the clinics, the operating rooms, and the classrooms.

David and his wife Rebecca live in Milwaukee with their two daughters, Barrett, age 15, and Aidan, age 5.