William J. Kane, MD, PhD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

William J. Kane, MD, PhD, FAOA is being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession. He was the first Secretary-Treasurer (1966-1970) of the newly formed Scoliosis Research Society in 1966, and has made significant contributions as an educator, researcher, teacher and mentor in the orthopaedic profession. The champion for Dr. Kane is John F. Sarwark, MD, FAOA.


Dr. Kane graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, in 1954 and received his MD degree from Columbia University of Physicians and Surgeons 4 years later. Adventuring west, he completed a four-year orthopedic residency at the University of Minneapolis under Dr. John Moe, with an additional year spent earning a PhD in orthopaedic surgery.

A two-day workshop on scoliosis organized by John Moe was held for the first time in the Mayo Memorial Auditorium at the Minnesota Medical Center in 1964. As the meeting came to a close, a proposal was made to start a scoliosis organization. The faculty of the workshop unanimously approved of the idea, and Dr. Moe was voted as its first president. He accepted on the condition that Dr. Bill Kane would be made secretary-treasurer to help him organize the new society.

Working closely with Dr. Moe, the two paved the way for the emergence of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) an organization that proved strong, productive, and respected by all in the spine field. Dr. Kane’s four years as secretary- treasurer displayed his winning personality, his skills as an organizer, leader, and writer with the ability to focus on details.

In 1980, he was elected to the office of the Presidency of the SRS, where he continued to shape the society as the leader in its field. He continued to climb the professional ladder rapidly, and in 1970, he was recruited as Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he practiced and taught at Northwestern University and Children’s Memorial Hospital.

He returned to the Twin Cities in 1988 and served as a partner in Hennepin Faculty Associates at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Dr. Kane retired from patient care in 2009. He accepted leadership roles in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the International Study for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, and the Continental Orthopaedic Society; published many scientific papers; authored and edited chapters in medical textbooks; and lectured widely.

In a tribute to Dr. Kane, James A. Hill, MD, FAOA commented, “I thought about what I could say that would give people a better insight on what type of individual and Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Kane was in a Tribute. When I reflect about his many positive attributes, one that stuck out in my mind is the fact that Dr. Kane was ahead of his time regarding a commitment to inclusion and diversity. As you know, he accepted and trained many women and underrepresented minorities in orthopaedics. I know he did not do it because of any political agenda or conscious effort of inclusion and diversity. He did it because he thought every individual was unique and he evaluated them on the totality of their experiences and talents. He did not stereotype people in regards to gender, race, or religion.  He truly lived up to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s adage of “judging people by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.”

The AOA acknowledges Dr. Kane’s lasting legacy and significant contributions to the orthopaedic community and proudly recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“Dr. William Kane is recognized as our community’s mentorship standard. His work effort was unmatched—particularly given his history of childhood polio. His clinical skill, commitment to education and to spine research contributions were extraordinary. His winning leadership in the early days paved the way for the emergence of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), an organization respected by all in orthopaedics. As an organizer, leader and writer, he continued to shape the SRS as its President. His important contributions however are the innumerable students, residents, and colleagues for whom he demonstrated his compassion toward patients and families. Dr. William Kane is an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.”

– John F. Sarwark, MD, FAOA
Dr. Kane’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.