Following undergraduate studies at Stanford University, Susan Zolla-Pazner received her Ph.D. in medical microbiology at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco. Her doctoral studies, a continuation of the pioneering immunochemical work of Drs. Michael Heidelberger and Elvin Kabat, were focused on the immunochemical characteristics of antipneumococcal Abs and the unusual isotype of these Abs in horse sera, which were used as a treatment for pneumonia prior to the advent of antibiotics. Dr. Zolla-Pazner spent 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the NYU School of Medicine, working with Dr. Edward C. Franklin, where she studied immunoglobulin synthesis in myeloma cells derived from human bone marrow. These studies led to several years of investigation into how plasma cell tumors affect the induction of Ab responses in mice.