Dan M. Spengler, MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

Dan M. Spengler, MD, FAOA is being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his leadership, mentoring, and lifelong contributions to orthopaedic surgery during his distinguished career. The champion for this effort on his behalf is Gregory A. Mencio, MD, FAOA.


Dr. Spengler received his undergraduate degree supported by a four-year Union Carbide scholarship from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio in 1962. He then received his M.D. degree from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, Michigan in May 1966. He married his wife, Cynthia in October 1965. His Internship was completed in May, 1967 from the King County Hospital (now known as Harborview Medical Center) in Seattle, Washington. He then returned to Ann Arbor, Michigan to complete his Assistant Residency year in 1968. As a member of the Berry Plan, he spent the next two years as a Captain in the USAF. His first year was in Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana followed by his second year in the Republic of Vietnam in the Military Provincial Hospital Assistant Program (MILPHAP) in Phan Rang, Vietnam with the MACV Advisory Team #45. After completing his one year of service in Vietnam, he was awarded a Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. After completing his two years in the USAF, he then returned to the University of Michigan Medical Center and completed his residency in Orthopaedic Surgery in 1973. He then moved to Case Western Reserve University and completed a one-year fellowship in Orthopaedic Biomechanics under Victor Frankel and Al Burstein. 

Dr. Spengler and his family then moved to Seattle, Washington and served under Kay Clawson, Victor Frankel and Ted Hanson for nine years and being promoted to a full Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery. He was then recruited to serve as the Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from 1983 to 2016 (26 years). Following his receipt of the Emeritus Faculty recognition award he did receive a major award funded by a former patient which is now named the Dan Spengler Chair of Orthopaedics with Dr. Rick Wright serving as this Chair of the Department.    

Dr. Spengler has received many awards over his 26 years as Professor and Chair of the Department. He has published over 135 peer reviewed manuscripts and 129 abstracts. He received the ABC Travelling Fellowship award in 1981. He has also received the Kappa Delta award and the 2017 AOA Distinguished Service award. Additionally, he has spoken as a guest speaker at 49 other Universities here in the United States and around the world. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the AAOS for one year January, 1985-February, 1986. He was on the ABOS from 1988-1994 serving as President-Elect and President. He was also a President-elect of the AOA and President during the Boston meeting in 2004. Finally, he served on the Board of Directors of the JBJS from 2004-2012. 

The AOA gratefully acknowledges Dr. Spengler’s extensive and comprehensive impact on the orthopaedic community and recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession. 


Dr. Dan M. Spengler’s legacy as a leader, mentor, and educator has left an indelible mark on the field of orthopaedic surgery.  I was fortunate to work with him for over 30 years and have witnessed the incredible impact that he has on all around him, both personally and professionally. As the former chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Vanderbilt for 26 years, he has been a champion of young surgeons and a mentor to countless residents and fellows. As a scientist, his groundbreaking work in orthopaedic biomechanics has been recognized with several prestigious research awards, including the Volvo Award, the Kappa Delta Award, and the Cervical Spine Research Society Award. Dan is a decorated Air Force veteran, and has served our profession, as Director and President of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS), President of the AOA, and Trustee and Treasurer for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Dan’s dedication to advancing the science and practice of orthopaedic surgery, his selfless professionalism, and his exceptional leadership skills represent the highest standards to which we can aspire as orthopaedic surgeons.

Gregory A. Mencio, MD, FAOA
Dr. Spengler’s Champion

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.