Susan R. Panny, M.D.


Dr. Susan Panny is a second generation American. Her family originally came from Germany and Austria. She was born in New York City in 1943. When her father was severely wounded in the war, she went to live with her maternal grandparents so that her mother could be free to care for him.

Dr. Panny was the first person in her family to go to college. She is a product of the New York City Public Schools and attended the Bronx High School of Science. After graduation, she went to Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University, on a New York State Regent’s Scholarship, where she majored in Chemistry and German Literature.

Shortly after graduation, she married Eaton Lattman, then a graduate student in biophysics at John Hopkins University. She attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine, receiving her M.C. degree Magna Cum Laude. Then the couple both did postdoctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Germany. On her return to the United States, Dr. Panny completed her pediatric internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. She then returned to Baltimore and served as Chief Resident in Pediatrics at University Hospital. This was
followed by completion of a fellowship in Genetics at Johns Hopkins. Her daughter, Laura Joy Lattman, was born while she was a genetics fellow. Dr. Panny is Board certified in both Pediatrics and Medical Genetics. After her training, she returned to University Hospital as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics to build a clinical genetics program there.

A federal grant allowed Maryland to begin building a statewide genetics network. Johns Hopkins, University Hospital, and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. worked together to build a system of outreach clinics across the state. She also provided medical back up for Dr. Tony Holtzman, who was the consultant to the State newborn screen program. Dr. Panny became more and more involved with genetics activities that served the whole population, such as newborn screening and carrier screening for sickle cell disease, Thalassemia and Tay-Sach’s disease. In 1984, she moved to the State Health Department full time to develop a comprehensive statewide pubic health genetics program.

When insurance companies would not cover the metabolic formulas and special food products needed to treat children with a number of genetic metabolic diseases, Dr. Panny worked with parents of children with metabolic diseases to mandate coverage. Dr. Panny developed the fledging Birth Defects Reporting and Information System in Maryland. Dr. Panny’s genetics program was one of the first to offer maternal serum AFP screening. AFP screening helps identify babies with neural tube defects and some chromosomal abnormalities prenatally. Dr. Panny worked to get data to support legislation that required insurers to allow mothers and their babies to stay in the hospital for 48 hours, or if they went home before to have the baby’s newborn screen drawn on a home visit.

Newborn screening has expanded dramatically on Dr. Panny’s watch. More recently with the addition of new technology, the newborn screening panel in Maryland has been expanded to cover over 30 metabolic diseases.

In 2000 Dr. Panny also assumed responsibility for the Health Department’s other programs for children with special health care needs. She currently serves as the Director of the Office for Genetics and Children with Special Health Care Needs, overseeing a statewide program of services that works to identify children with genetic disorders, birth defects and other chronic diseases early, and seeks to ensure that these children have access to necessary specialty care and critical family support services.

Dr. Panny’s dream is to live long enough to run away and join the Peace Corps to operate a cholera station in an area where it is needed.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2005.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2005