Innovation in Anatomy Education

The Division of Clinical Anatomy at Stanford University has long held a tradition of innovation to assist in the teaching of medical students. In the 1950’s, Professor David Bassett, working in collaboration with William Gruber, inventor of the View-Master, created a highly revered stereoscopic photographic atlas of human dissection, still in use to this day. In the 1980’s, Dr. Robert Chase, then head of the Division of Anatomy, continued to pursue this interest with research in the use of 3D models for visualizing the human body.

Anatomage Table

The Table allows students and faculty to access anatomical information in a way that has previously been inaccessible. With a fully interactive, multitouch screen, one can dissect the body, moving through layers of tissue, or use a virtual knife to cut away and see the structures inside. We can look at the body with different types of visualizations, such as opaque hard-tissue, or as an X-Ray. The Anatomage Table, invented here by Dr. Paul Brown, is a breakthrough in visualization and interactivity and enhances students' understanding of anatomy, both in general and in clinical concepts, and allows students to explore the body like never before.   

Virtual Reality

Our early experiments in VR ultimately led to an iOS/Android app that was VR-enabled for use with cardboard viewers. Produced in conjunction with Stanford Health Care and former Clinical Anatomy staff, the app allowed users to take brief tours around different parts of the body, and was provided to visitors and patients at the Stanford Hospital.

More recently, we used VR to provide an interactive lab experience while running our Clinical Anatomy Summer Program remotely. Students could meet up in a virtual representation of our dissection lab and view and discuss 3D anatomical models.

Inside Rodin's Hands: Augmented Reality

James Chang, from the Division of Plastic Surgery,  teamed up with Paul Brown, Matthew Hasel, and Sakti Srivastava from the Division of Clinical Anatomy, and the Cantor Museum curators to create a multi-disciplinary exhibition that incorporates Rodin hand sculptures into anatomical and surgical educational programs. Featuring an augmented reality technique perfected by the Anatomy team, exhibit visitors could study the hand’s internal structures as depicted by the sculptures, using iPads. In addition, the exhibit provided details about the surgical techniques used to repair these conditions, and a brief survey of depictions of the hand in historical anatomical texts.

There are some media links here:

High tech scans reveal Rodin's hands

Inside Rodin's Hands - Al Jazeera America

Wired Magazine's Article

NPR's Interview

The Anatomical Wax Models of La Specola

The Division has worked with the Florence-based museum, La Specola, for several decades to digitize the breathtaking collection of anatomical wax models created in the 17th and 18th centuries by Italian anatomists and artists.  In an effort led by Dr. Paul Brown and Dr. Rober Chase, many of these models were photographed in stereoscopic 3D and later scanned in collaboration with Anatomage to create 3D models. 

We also created an iBook to highlight the museum and it's collection. You can get the book here.

"Stanford Division of Clinical Anatomy and Fondazione Prada exhibition of La Specola Waxes"

Fondazione Exhibition of La Specola Waxes

Prosection Library

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Anatomical Gift Program, students are able to learn from a large collection of professionally dissected specimens.  To aid in self-study, the physical specimens are supplemented by annotated images and are being digitally scanned, in a process called photogrammetry, so that 3D models can be used for study outside the lab.