Elinor Spring-Mills, PhD

Elinor Spring-Mills, PhDAmong the first women to earn a doctorate from Harvard Medical School, Elinor Spring-Mills has been on the Upstate faculty since 1977. Named a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in 1998, Dr. Spring-Mills is known for nurturing would-be doctors while imparting the basic value of the anatomical sciences through her teaching of cell biology, microscopic anatomy, and gross anatomy.

For 21 years, Spring-Mills was course director of the microscopic anatomy course, which became the first Upstate course to use computer-based self-assessment modules to help students learn course material and review for the National Boards.

Spring-Mills spent 20 years conducting research related to development of the male reproductive tract, prostate cancer, development of the breast, and breast cancer. She is co-editor of three textbooks on andrology, served on the executive committee of the first Pan American Congress of Andrology, was chairperson of the Breast Cancer Working Group for the National Cancer Institute from 1984 to 1987, and a member of the educational policies committee of the American Association of Anatomists.

Elinor Spring-Mills, PhD"I’ve always thought that the nice thing about an academic setting was the ability to pursue a research career while sharing your knowledge with students," says Spring-Mills, the first woman to earn tenure from the Upstate Department of Anatomy.

By all accounts, she's a great teacher. "She has an amazing ability to present information to students in a simple, clear manner that emphasizes the important concepts, but also presents the whole story so that students can follow areas of their interest in greater depth," says Dennis Stelzner, PhD, professor and interim chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Generous with her time, Spring-Mills has tutored students in English as a second language, served as faculty advisor for several student organizations, and mentored countless students.

"For me and my three siblings, Dr. Spring-Mills epitomized the very best of what a teacher should be—intelligent, patient and kind, with a quiet integrity," says Ramsay S. Farah, MD '95. "When we reminisce on our medical school days, she stands out as a teacher that made a great difference inside and outside of the lecture hall."

Spring-Mills says that medical students are unusually motivated. "I've always had the attitude that if a student wanted to learn, I'd be available. I've never had a bad day teaching."