In Memoriam Bertram Schnitzer, MD

By Lynn McCain | November 22 2019

Dr. SchnitzerMichigan lost one of it’s most celebrated and beloved pathologists last week as Dr. Bertram Schnitzer passed away at the age of 90.

Dr. Schnitzer was born on June 21, 1929, in Germany. In 1941 his family emigrated to the United States. He grew up in New Jersey and received his BA from New York University in 1952, then attended medical school at the University of Basel and graduated in 1958. He completed an internship at Baltimore City Hospital from 1958-59, followed by a residency in pathology at Georgetown University where he was the Chief Resident from 1961-1963 and was an NCI trainee and NIH Fellow from 1963-66. He started his career in 1963 at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. A. James French recruited him to the University of Michigan in 1966 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1970 and Professor in 1974. 

Dr. Schnitzer was an internationally known leader in the fields of hematology and hematopathology. In 1976, he received the first International Giovanni di Guglielmo Prize in Hematology. He was known for his electron microscopy studies and had important publications in Science and other prestigious journals. He was President of the Society for Hematopathology in 1990. A prolific lecturer, he presented over 140 courses, lectures, and workshops worldwide. He served on many expert review panels and editorial boards. Dr. Schnitzer loved teaching and mentored countless residents and fellows and took great pride in his trainees, many of whom have leadership roles throughout the country.

He truly loved lymphomas and could often be found helping other faculty members with their difficult cases, bringing a smile and a cheerful attitude every day. Dr. Peter Ward, former Chair of Pathology, remembers him fondly, "As Chair, I developed great respect for Bert's awesome diagnostic skills.  I was always impressed with his keen mentoring of Pathology residents and postdoctoral fellows, and his quiet and unassuming personality. He never boasted of his accomplishments, but was very pleased with the residents and fellows he had trained. Although at times he must have experienced frustrations, I never heard him complain or raise his voice.  He always seemed extremely even-handed.  I will miss him greatly." After an impactful 51 years of service at the University of Michigan, he retired in 2017. 

Dr. Schnitzer had many interests outside of medicine and raised three sons in Ann Arbor with his wife, Anna Schnitzer. Dr. Henry Appelman remembers Dr. Schnitzer "as a kind, gentle guy who never lost his temper and who was committed to his work and equally committed to his family." In midlife, he was an avid runner, completing dozens of marathons. In later years, he could be found swimming at the YMCA as soon as the doors opened each morning. He loved to walk the streets of downtown Ann Arbor and frequent the coffee shops with his wife.

Dr. Schnitzer was a wonderful mentor and colleague who will be missed by his many friends within the Department and around the world. To share a memory, please visit