Florence Rena Sabin was born on November 9, 1871 in Central City, Colorado. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology in 1893 from Smith College. Sabin entered Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1896.
Sabin was most notable for the number of career firsts she achieved during her lifetime. This included becoming not only Johns Hopkins first female faculty member, but also the first full professor both at that institution and later at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, where she worked from 1925 until her retirement in 1938. She was also the first female president of the American Association of Anatomists and the first to be honored with membership in the National Academy of Sciences.
After retirement she returned to Colorado and began work as a public health activist chairing the Health Committee of Colorado's Post-War Planning Committee, through which the "Sabin Health Bills" were passed. In recognition of these efforts, Sabin received the Lasker Award for Public Service in 1951.
Dr. Sabin died on October 3, 1953 in Denver. After her death, the State of Colorado honored her by having a statue of her placed in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol in 1959.