July 1, 2020 – Suzanne Spanier, M.D., a pathologist and longtime faculty member of the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, passed away on June 30. She was 82.
Spanier came to UF as a student in 1958 after spending one year at Duke University. It was here that she developed a love of the sciences, which she carried into her graduate studies, receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in biology from UF. During her time in graduate school, she found mentors in faculty members like Thomas Maren, M.D., whose research led to the development of a top-selling drug for glaucoma, and Thomas Muther, Ph.D., a Swiss researcher who specialized in drug-induced teratology.
Both of Spanier’s mentors encouraged her to apply to the UF College of Medicine, though she had been rejected once before. Spanier went on to receive her medical degree from UF in 1969, just one year after marrying her husband, classmate John Spanier, M.D., and giving birth to their son, David.
During a medical school clinical rotation in the musculoskeletal oncology service, Spanier developed and strengthened what would become a lifelong passion for musculoskeletal pathology. She decided to pursue a residency in pathology, where she could continue studying musculoskeletal tumors.
When Spanier completed her residency, she accepted a position as a pathologist in the UF Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, a nod to the growing multidisciplinary field of musculoskeletal pathology. A 1980 paper that she and department chair William Enneking, M.D., co-authored, titled “A system for the surgical staging of musculoskeletal sarcoma,” remains the most-quoted publication in the field of musculoskeletal pathology for its definitions of the principles of staging musculoskeletal tumors and surgical margins. Spanier served on the faculty of the UF Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation for 38 years from 1969 until her retirement in 2007.
In 2013, Spanier and her husband established the Drs. Suzanne and John Spanier Orthopaedics Trauma Fellowship to support orthopaedic trauma education and research initiatives in the department.
Spanier leaves behind a strong legacy at the UF Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation thanks to her inquisitive mind and her dedication to learning and educating others. She will long be remembered for her contributions to the field of musculoskeletal pathology, and her wit and kindness will never be forgotten.