Milo C. Wiltbank

Wiltbank Laboratory

Professor - Reproductive Physiology & Management

Research, Teaching



Office Location

1675 Observatory Dr
852 Animal Sciences
Madison, WI 53706

Dr. Milo Wiltbank joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991 in the Department of Dairy Science and is currently Professor of Animal and Dairy Sciences and Endocrinology-Reproductive Physiology. He has done research in reproductive physiology throughout his career. He currently has >250 scientific, peer-reviewed manuscripts in a number of research areas including interactions of nutrition and reproduction, the physiological basis for anovular cows, and hormonal regulation of the ovary. From a practical standpoint, he is probably best known for the development, validation, and modification of timed AI protocols such as Ovsynch and Double-Ovsynch. From a basic perspective, he has provided substantial new insights into the mechanisms involved in the regression of the corpus luteum (CL) and mechanisms involved in the selection of a single dominant follicle in cattle.  His current research is focused on three main areas: 

1) Understanding and reducing pregnancy loss in lactating dairy cows and recipients of in vitro produced (IVF) and cloned embryos.  

2) MeFIRST – Mechanisms of Follicle Initiation, Recruitment, and SelecTion.  

3) RePROGRAM – Rethinking Programs in Reproduction to Optimize Gains in Reproduction and Management 

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles

Mechanisms that regulate the selection of a single dominant follicle. Examples: 

Gomez-Leon, VE, OJ Ginther, RR Domingues, JD Guimaraes, and MC Wiltbank, 2020. Necessity for LH in selection and continued growth of the bovine dominant follicle. Reproduction 159 559-569. 

Gomez-Leon, VE, OJ Ginther, JD Guimaraes, and MC Wiltbank, 2020. Hormonal mechanisms regulating follicular wave dynamics II: Progesterone decreases diameter at follicle selection regardless of whether circulating FSH or LH are decreased or elevated. Theriogenology 143 148-156.

Garcia-Guerra, A, MH Kamalludin, BW Kirkpatrick, and MC Wiltbank, 2018. Trio a novel bovine high-fecundity allele: II. Hormonal profile and follicular dynamics underlying the high ovulation rate. Biology of Reproduction 98 335-349. 

Garcia-Guerra, A, AMO Canavessi, PLJ Monteiro, Jr., MA Mezera, R Sartori, BW Kirkpatrick, and MC Wiltbank, 2018. Trio, a novel bovine high fecundity allele: III. Acquisition of dominance and ovulatory capacity at a smaller follicle size. Biology of Reproduction 98 350-365. 

Ginther, OJ, MC Wiltbank, PM Fricke, JR Gibbons, and K Kot, 1996. Selection of the dominant follicle in cattle. Biology of Reproduction 55 1187-1194. (895 citations)

Mechanisms regulating luteolysis and pregnancy. Examples: 

Domingues, RR, OJ Ginther, VE Gomez-Leon, and MC Wiltbank, 2020. Up-regulation of endometrial oxytocin receptor is associated with the timing of luteolysis in heifers with two and three follicular waves. Biology of Reproduction 102 316-326. 

Mezera, MA, CS Hamm, CA Gamarra, RS Gennari, AB Prata, R Sartori, and MC Wiltbank, 2019. Profiles of prostaglandin F2alpha metabolite in dairy cattle during luteal regression and pregnancy: implications for corpus luteum maintenance. Biology of Reproduction 101 76-90. 

Baez, GM, E Trevisol, RV Barletta, BO Cardoso, A Ricci, JN Guenther, NE Cummings, and MC Wiltbank 2017 Proposal of a new model for CL regression or maintenance during pregnancy on the basis of timing of regression of contralateral, accessory CL in pregnant cows. Theriogenology 89 214-225 

Wiltbank, MC, GM Baez, A Garcia-Guerra, MZ Toledo, PL Monteiro, LF Melo, JC Ochoa, JE Santos, and R Sartori 2016 Pivotal periods for pregnancy loss during the first trimester of gestation in lactating dairy cows. Theriogenology 86 239-253. (highly cited; Top 1% in field) 

Nutritional regulation of reproduction. Examples: 

Toledo, MZ, GM Baez, A Garcia-Guerra, NE Lobos, JN Guenther, E Trevisol, D Luchini, RD Shaver, and MC Wiltbank, 2017. Effect of feeding rumen-protected methionine on productive and reproductive performance of dairy cows. PLoS ONE 12 e0189117. 

Carvalho, PD, AH Souza, MC Amundson, KS Hackbart, MJ Fuenzalida, MM Herlihy, H Ayres, AR Dresch, LM Vieira, JN Guenther, RR Grummer, PM Fricke, RD Shaver, and MC Wiltbank, 2014. Relationships between fertility and postpartum changes in body condition and body weight in lactating dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science 97 3666-3683. 

Wiltbank, M, H Lopez, R Sartori, S Sangsritavong, and A Gumen 2006 Changes in reproductive physiology of lactating dairy cows due to elevated steroid metabolism. Theriogenology 65 17-29. 

Development and optimization of reproductive management protocols. Examples: 

Prata, AB, G Madureira, AJ Robl, HS Ribeiro, M Sagae, MCV Elias, C Pimenta, J Barrios, D Hartmman, AA Schneider, GAF Sandoval, MC Wiltbank, and R Sartori 2020 Progesterone-based timed AI protocols for Bos indicus cattle III: Comparison of protocol lengths. Theriogenology 152 29-35. 

Andrade JPN, VE Gomez-León, FS Andrade, BP Carvalho, KL Lacouth, FZ Garcia, JCF Jacob, JNS Sales, MC Wiltbank, and MRB Mello, 2020. Development of a novel 21-day reinsemination program, ReBreed21, in Bos indicus heifers, Theriogenology doi: 

Wiltbank, MC, and JR Pursley 2014 The cow as an induced ovulator: timed AI after synchronization of ovulation. Theriogenology 81 170-185. (highly cited manuscript; Top 1%) 

Undergraduate Courses

Dy Sci/An Sci 373 – Animal Physiology (3 credits, Spring)
Course description: Students will develop an understanding of physiological processes that regulate the body, learn the anatomy and function of different physiological systems, describe interactions between organ systems, study regulation of an organ system from the molecular to whole animal level, and identify differences between species in the same systems.

Dy Sci 534 – Reproductive Management of Dairy Cattle (3 credits, Spring)
Course description: This course is designed to provide students with the technical knowledge and practical skills to design and execute an effective reproductive management program for dairy cattle. Each week students will participate in lectures and discussions of the key reproductive physiology and practical research results that underlie reproductive management programs. Students will also participate in hands-on laboratories twice per week in which they will learn, practice, and demonstrate practical reproductive management techniques including: Semen handling, artificial insemination, and ultrasound of ovaries and uterus.
Requirements: DY SCI/​AN SCI  434

Dy Sci 535 – Dairy Farm Management Practicum (3 credits, Fall)
Course description: Principles of nutrition, breeding, reproduction, and management at the farm level are integrated. Students will develop skills in decision making, information gatering, problem solving, and interpersonal communication through fieldtrips to working commercial dairy operations.
Requirements: Must have completed or be enrolled in Dairy Science 433 Dairy Herd Management, Dairy Science 434 Reproductive Physiology and Dairy Science 361 Introduction to Animal and Veterinary Genetics.

Graduate Courses

OBS&GYN 710 – Reproductive Endocrine Physiology (3 credits, Fall)
Course description: A broad grounding in reproductive endocrine physiology at the graduate level, with an emphasis on human and human reproductive health wherever possible. Encompasses an overview of fundamental concepts in endocrinology, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, steroidogenesis, early embryonic development, pregnancy and maternal-fetal adaptations, and pathologies associated with endocrine disruption and dysregulation. Provides more focus on pathologic pregnancies because such pregnancies lead to a higher risk of adult onset diseases including hypertension, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Covers pregnancy and pathologic pregnancy in detail.
Requirements: Graduate/professional standing

New Investigator Award: Society for the Study of Reproduction, 1988. 

John S. Donald Teaching Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999. 

NIH Reprodroductive Endocrinology and Reproductive Biology Study Sections panel member, multiple years. 

USDA Reproductive Biology Study Section panel member, multiple years. 

Pharmacia Physiology Award, American Dairy Science Association, 2001. 

Chair, Membership Committee, Society for the Study of Reproduction,2000-2002. 

Director, Society for the Study of Reproduction, 2003-2006. 

USA Representative for International Congress on Animal Reproduction, 2004-Present.  

WALSAA Outstanding Advisor Award.  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 2005. 

Research Award. National Association of Animal Breeders, 2006. 

Service to Agriculture Award. Farm and Industry Short Course Alumni, 2007.  

Merial Dairy Management Award.  American Dairy Science Association, 2008. 

Brazilian Society for Embryo Technology (SBTE): Top scientific researcher, 2019 

Chair of Graduate Program, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison 2007-2019, currently Co-Chair Graduate Program, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences