William F. Enneking M.D

UF Health orthopaedic pioneer honored as pillar of profession

The founding chair of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s department of orthopaedics has been recognized as a “Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession” by the American Orthopaedic Association, or AOA.

William F. Enneking, M.D., who died in 2014 at age 88, became a renown researcher, educator and surgeon in the field after his recruitment to the UF department of surgery in 1960. His work redefining how physicians communicate about limb tumors is still widely used and cited today. He retired in 2005.

Enneking served as the first chief of the division of orthopaedic medicine and, in 1975, became the inaugural chair of the then-department of orthopaedics, which is now the department of orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine.

Enneking was the only orthopaedic surgeon in Gainesville when he arrived.

“Dr. Enneking was dedicated to the education of students at all levels,” the AOA said in celebrating Enneking’s career at its June annual leadership meeting in Salt Lake City. “Dr. Enneking was truly a leader, educator and innovator. His positive influence on students, physicians and patients is far reaching and ongoing.”

Enneking earned his medical degree in 1949 at the University of Wisconsin. He served in Korea as a medical officer before his first academic appointment at the University of Mississippi as its chief of orthopaedic surgery before coming to UF.

“My siblings and I are thrilled that our father’s legacy of education, research and outstanding clinical care have been recognized by the AOA,” said his daughter, Kayser Enneking, M.D., one of seven siblings and a professor of anesthesiology and orthopaedics at UF Health. “On a personal level, I still get the opportunity to care for his patients years later. They always remember him with a great deal of respect and appreciation for his down-to-earth humanity.”

Enneking became a pioneer of limb salvage surgery at a time when those with orthopaedic tumors often faced amputation. His basic clinical research helped pave the way for bone and muscular tissue banking. He developed the staging system doctors use around the globe to classify the severity of bone and soft-tissue tumors. The Enneking Staging System is still used widely.

His educational legacy is especially enduring. Enneking taught a well-regarded musculoskeletal pathology course to students around the globe, in addition to medical students he influenced at UF.

During his career, Enneking served as the president of many orthopaedic associations in the United States, including the AOA. His work as a researcher also twice earned him the highest honor in orthopaedic medicine research: the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Kappa Delta Award.

“As an innovative leader, he expected a lot and pushed the envelope to move our field forward,” said Mark T. Scarborough, M.D., a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of orthopaedic surgery and sports medicine, who nominated Enneking for the honor and is his son-in-law. “While his list of awards is impressive, he believed his greatest personal achievement was helping with the integration of Alachua County schools as a school board member during the Civil Rights era. Dr. Enneking inspired generations of orthopaedic surgeons … and positively impacted all of us.”

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