Eduard Pernkopf

Who is Eduard Pernkopf and why should we care?

Eduard Pernkopf was a Nazi. That is the short of it. He also created an anatomical atlas that has become a notorious source of ethical debate since at least the 1990s.

So, who was Eduard Pernkopf?

Pernkopf was an Austrian medical doctor. During World War 1, he served as a military physician for Austria.  After the war, he returned to the University of Vienna and became an Anatomy Instructor for the medical school. By 1928 he was a full professor and by 1933 he was the director of the anatomical institute. Also in 1933, Pernkopf pledged his allegiance to the Nazi party, later becoming a member of the Sturmabteilung, Hitler’s pre-war Stormtroopers.

In 1933, he also started work on his anatomical atlases. Four artists rendered watercolor portraits of his dissections, Pernkopf set out to create the most realistic representations of cadaveric dissections ever available with the caveat that the color be as realistic as possible. Two volumes ended up being published, one in 1937 and one in 1941. By 1941, all four of the artists joined active military or paramilitary service for Germany.

So, why is this atlas so controversial?

In 1938, Pernkopf became Dean of the medical college at the University of Vienna. He immediately expelled all non-Aryan professors; at Vienna, that meant over 75% of the faculty, several of whom would end up dying in concentration camps across occupied German territory. As Dean, Pernkopf enacted a strict racial hygiene approach to medicine. Across occupied Germany, medical schools were teaching that there were inferior anatomical characteristics of non-Aryans like Jews, Gypsies, Romani, and Poles, and homosexuals.

As a footnote to history, no one was forcing these scientists to go along with ideas like racial hygiene. In fact, it seems like the scientists were the driving force behind these ideas. Spurred on by eugenicists in the U.S., Nazi scientists were pushing hard for eugenics in Germany. This lead to forced sterilization, anti-miscegenation and anti-immigrant laws, and euthanasia. These were the three basic prongs of the Nazi Volksgesundheit, or Public Health. By 1934, forced sterilization turned to euthanasia of people deemed mentally feeble. Early euthanasia programs turned to Holocaust as Germans placed non-Aryans in concentration, work, and prison camps.

As you can imagine, a lot of dead bodies meant a steady supply of cadavers for teaching and research at the 31 German or German occupied medical schools in Europe. There is evidence that while Pernkopf was dean, the University of Vienna medical school accepted 1,377 executed prisoners. It was customary that the medical schools would have embalming centers at the execution sites so that cadaveric materials could stay as fresh as possible.

There is questionable imagery within the atlases; images of emaciated cadavers in poor condition. There is also Nazi imagery in the signatures of the artists.

So, we have a bunch of Nazis who were very racist and who used very questionable sources for dissection to make their controversial anatomical atlas.

But, Vienna was bombed by allied forces in 1945. The university sustained heavy damage and the records containing the information about where the bodies used for the atlas came from were destroyed.

Did he use executed prisoners or not? And what should we do about the book?

Come find out and discuss the answers to these questions at the workshop Pernkopf, NAZIs, and MVCC at the 2018 HAPS Conference in Columbus.


This post was written by Aaron Fried, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Mohawk Valley Community College. Thanks to my colleagues and willing editors: Shannon Crocker, Eileen Bush, Don Kelly, Bill Perrotti, Emeritis, and the late Sam Drogo.

 

ABC’s of A&P

It is the ultimate challenge and lifelong pursuit of educators to facilitate learning among students with different educational backgrounds, first languages, and learning styles.  Concurrently, we work to foster individual strengths and ideas that each student brings to our classroom. With no single right way to get through to everyone, each class presents us with the awesome challenge of a lifetime!

So how can we assess our teaching methods and students’ knowledge acquisition without a test? Or better yet, before the test they will ultimately have to take? And how can we make the learning fun?

For me, one answer is a creative project.  Students in Human Anatomy and Physiology spend much of their time memorizing copious facts hoping to apply them at exam time. The act of creating something from those facts is an enjoyable way for students to take material that is complex, break it down into digestible components, tap into their creative side and ultimately ignite different aspects of their brain into flames of learning. One of my favorite creative assignments calls upon students to write a children’s storybook based on a topic we have covered.  Students must capture the big picture and then focus on filling in the details that are most relevant to their own particular stories.

Recently, three of my students created a children’s story after learning about the kidneys.  The title of their story was The Mighty KidneysWheres Sodium?  The “Kid”neys are a group of three friends (shaped like kidneys) who help the kidneys work properly. In the episode Wheres Sodium? there is a problem in the distal convoluted tubule (DCT).  As the “Kid”neys get filtered, and wind their way through a nephron they finally make it to the DCT where they encounter the villain: Caffeine (da da dum). In their story, Caffeine has somehow banished the friendly Al Dosterone.  The students were clever enough to make the shape of Caffeine and Al Dosterone similar enough so that readers could imagine how caffeine might interfere with aldosterone’s action. In the end, the “Kid”neys save the day by contacting the brain’s thirst centers.

In this story, AL Dosterone is the hero!
In this story, AL Dosterone is the hero!

Similar children’s stories submitted for this assignment also show how creative work engages and helps students personally assimilate an overarching theme in Human Anatomy and Physiology. Then the added nuances, unique to each students’ work, display knowledge of details that make the stories informative, engaging and interesting. Usually the illustrations are adorable. Creating a children’s story allows students to assess their understanding by breaking down the material, rebuilding it and adding their own unique subset of details with personal creative essence. Those students who can do this demonstrate their understanding of learning objectives.

Feedback from students who engage in this type of assignment is very positive, initiating comments such as, “We had a lot of fun with this project and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.” As a teacher, reading the stories of my students makes me happy because I know I got through to them with the core material; but then to watch them interact with that material in their own unique way makes me a very proud professor.


Bridgit Goldman has been teaching college level biology since 1998.  She has a Ph.D. in Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology from The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York.  Since 2007 she has designed, developed and taught all the lecture and laboratory classes in Human Anatomy and Physiology at Siena College. 

HAPS in podcast form

A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.
A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

Being the Executive Director of HAPS is a great job, in part because I never really know what opportunities are going to present themselves on any given day.  Two weeks ago I got a call from friend and HAPS McGraw-Hill Education exhibitor Jim Connely.  Jim has boundless energy and enthusiasm, so when he calls, you know something cool is going to happen.

And it did!

This particular call was a proposal from Jim to feature HAPS in his Succeed in A&P podcast.  By last week, we had recorded a conversational interview about HAPS and the upcoming Annual Conference in Columbus (May 26-30).  And today that conversation is available to everyone as a podcast (just two weeks from initial phone call to release!).  If you would like to hear more, or if you know of colleagues who might like to hear more about HAPS, this podcast conversation is a great starting point.

For those new to podcasts, they are very similar in concept to an audio book.  The main difference is that a podcast tends to narrowly focus on a topic and to me, podcasts seem like the radio stories or interviews that you might hear on public radio.  Most people I know download their podcasts to their smart phones so that they can listen to them whenever they have a moment – in line, in the car, whenever.  But you can use whatever digital device you prefer – tablet, computer, whatever works for you.

Most digital devices these days come with a program that will allow you to download and listen to podcasts.  If yours did not, then finding an appropriate player is as simple as searching your favorite app store.  Once you’ve got that figured out, all you need to do is follow the links below and you’re in business.

iTunes link      Google Play link     Stitcher Radio link       Podbay link     

HAPS is fortunate to have the support of a whole host of wonderful companies that are all working to make A&P education more effective.  Jim is a great example of the personal effort and earnest desire to help that so many of our exhibitors share.  Listen to the podcast and you will see what I mean.

“The Wave” – Neuron Action Potential Propagation

Some of our most popular blog posts describe teaching tips developed by HAPS members. We choose a handful of these to publish on the blog, but there are hundreds of tips that have been collected over the years. These little snippets are being linked to the HAPS A&P learning outcomes and posted to the HAPS website, for members only. So join HAPS now, and get access to many more teaching tips like this one.

Enjoy this teaching tip from HAPS Past President, Terry Thompson.

Objectives:

  1. Engage students with a kinesthetic demonstration of the action potential “wave” with ions moving in or out of membrane channels
  2. Generate visual memory tools to help students’ learning and long-term understanding
  3. Motivate critical thinking by having students analyze and evaluate various components of the activity as a model of the physiological events

Materials:

  • Color-coded cards: multiple cards with Na+/K+ on opposite sides; one card with ACh/Ca2+ on opposite sides; one card with neuron cell body/synaptic end bulb on opposite sides. Can use cardstock or plastic protective sleeves. Use large font to fill single page.

 Procedure:

  1. Line students up facing class (or each other if using two lines). Explain that students will represent the axolemma: phosphate “head”, lipid “legs”, voltage-gated channels “arms”.
  2. Give each student a Na+/K+ card and review relative concentration of each ion extracellular and intracellular. Designate: above “heads” as extracellular and floor as intracellular; right hand as voltage-gated Na+ channel and left hand as voltage-gated K+ channel. Start with Na+ card held toward observers, above their heads, in right hand.
  3. Demonstrate the depolarization/repolarization cycle by bringing Na+ card down in front of body, flipping K+ side toward observers as pass to left hand, then move above head.  Have all the students practice this synchronously until they feel comfortable, saying “depolarize” and “repolarize” out loud to help.  Discuss the electrogenic activity of the Na+/K+-ATPase pump as it relates to this kinesthetic demonstration.
  4. Review continuous conduction and challenge them to now complete the same movements but this time in sequence, like the “wave” in a stadium.  Show the “neuron cell body” and “ACh” cards and discuss what initiates the impulse.  Can elaborate on difference between ligand-gated and voltage-gated channels; graded potential, threshold, and action potential; neurotransmitter for motor neuron or other neurons; dendrites, soma and axon hillock; etc.  Students will often come up with ideas of ways you could include other elements in the demonstration, or at least evaluate and understand what this particular activity as a model is NOT showing.
  5. “Start” the first person in line by saying “threshold”, and allow the “wave” to progress down the axon.  This usually elicits lots of laughing and suggestions from the audience.  Allow them to repeat until they produce a reasonable “wave”, starting each with a threshold stimulus.
  6. Finally as a reasonable “wave” is progressing down the line, run to the other end and flip your cards to show synaptic end bulb and hold the Ca2+ card above your head.  When the wave reaches you, bring the Ca2+ down and flip to ACh, passing it above your head for release of neurotransmitter at synapse with muscle or another neuron.  Discuss this added activity to the model as a way to summarize the activity.
  7. Extensions can include discussing what parts of this demonstration could be improved on or don’t accurately reflect the physiology.  Can also discuss what would need to be changed to demonstrate saltatory conduction instead of continuous conduction.

NOTE: This activity was also presented by Terry Thompson at 2016 HAPS Atlanta Conference as part of the group workshop entitled “Add Drama to Your Classroom – Great Kinesthetic Activities for Students.”

Join us in Columbus!

Join us in Columbus for the HAPS annual conference!
Join us in Columbus for the HAPS annual conference!

Looking to meet other A&P instructors and exchange ideas regarding A&P teaching?! Want to learn more about A&P educational products and technology?!  And want to have some fun?!  Look no further!!!  The 2018 HAPS Annual Meeting is being held in Columbus, Ohio from May 26 through May 30.

The first two full conference days at the Greater Columbus Convention Center will include update speakers from a number of organizations including the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Microbiology (ASM), and The Ohio State University College of Medicine (OSU-COM). There will also be other activities at this location, including presentations of scientific posters, tables of interesting things from exhibitors, and lively social events.  Additionally, during these first two days, we will highlight graduate student research with elevator talks by a number of graduate students, as well as conduct a Women in A&P Panel Discussion. As your conference planners, we’ve put together an engaging and stimulating first two days!

The last two days of the conference will be held at OSU-College of Medicine and will include workshops presented by your fellow HAPSters — with some of these workshops even being held in the cadaver lab.

Go Buckeyes!

There are also two post-conference events scheduled for Thursday May 31, including a hands on head and neck anatomy prosection course. And of course, no visit to Columbus is complete without a visit to the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. Visit the zoo with HAPS on May 31, and you’ll be privy to some special talks! (It pays to be a HAPSter!)

Conference registration and additional information can be found on the HAPS website!

We look forward to seeing you in Columbus, Ohio in May 2018!

Teaching Histology Without a Microscope

This quarter I am teaching a histology unit without a microscopy lab. Wait, histology without microscopes… what!?!? I have never experienced a histology course without a lab component and when I first heard this I was very surprised. How do you teach histology without microscopes? What about the concept of magnification? Isn’t operating a microscope a necessary skill? Then I read a couple of journal articles and considered the merits of a purely virtual histology course.

Everyone loves histology! (Image accessed on 3/18/18 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oligoastrocytoma_histology_HE.jpg)
Everyone loves histology! (Image accessed from wikimedia on 3/18/18)

Unless they are involved in a research project requiring optical microscopy or a pathologist analyzing samples, how frequently does the average researcher or medical professional actually use a light microscope? Could time spent practicing optical microscopy be better used learning other skills more relevant to their studies? Maybe career specific workshops or SPSS training? Microscopes are expensive and require upkeep. Could funds instead be used for resources needed in other courses. *cough cough Gross Anatomy cough*

Virtual microscopy is much more efficient for an institution and the students. A college or university could collect a large bank of images that can be updated continuously and won’t deteriorate over time. Online and long distance students are able to fully participate in labs. Slides can be shared rapidly between institutions without risking damaged or lost mail. Instructors can draw on slides to highlight structures without damaging them and students can compare slides of different magnifications or staining techniques side by side.

Histology curriculum often focuses on identifying structures in tissues and relating cell biology to the function of organ systems more than manual lab work. Students could practice reading slides as part of an active learning activity instead. Could microscopy be a workshop or research elective? Training would still be available for students, but only if they are planning to use this skill. This way students genuinely interested in microscopy could receive more individual attention from faculty.

So really, if you consider it, are students losing that much in a histology unit without a microscope? The course I am teaching is “Cell and Tissue Structure and Function.” It is part of the Biochemistry department. Students learn biochemistry and cell biology for the first seven weeks and end with a histology unit from me. We covered the four basic tissue types, integument, circulatory system, cartilage, and bone. The course is part of a physical therapy program. A laboratory component may be important in a course designed for future histologists, but these are physical therapy students. My lectures are packed with images, I have a workshop day set aside to practice analyzing slides, and I think they’ll be okay. 

These are some of the papers I read while thinking about this change:

Mione, S., Valcke, M., & Cornelissen, M. (2013). Evaluation of virtual microscopy in medical histology teaching. Anatomical Sciences Education, 6(5), 307-315.

Mione, S., Valcke, M., & Cornelissen, M. (2016). Remote histology learning from static versus dynamic microscopic images. Anatomical Sciences Education, 9(3), 222-230.

Thompson, A. R., & Lowrie, D. J.,Jr. (2017). An evaluation of outcomes following the replacement of traditional histology laboratories with self-study modules. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(3), 276-285.


Post comes from Julie Doll, MS, Anatomy Instructor in the Department of Anatomy for Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University. 

Quick analogy for subclavian artery name changes

Although it is not a particularly difficult concept, sometimes students have trouble remembering the different names that the subclavian artery takes on as it passes through the superior mediastinum and base of the neck into the axilla (as the axillary artery) and arm (as the brachial artery), or they don’t quite get that it is the same vessel with three different names.

Every one of my students has to drive along these roads to get to school.
Every one of my students has to drive along these roads to get to school.

One thing I do in lecture and lab is to analogize this name change using name changes for streets in town. Fortunately, I work at a university (Benedictine University in Lisle, IL) that is situated on a road (College Road) that changes name to the north (Yackley Avenue) and to the south (Wehrli Road) without changing direction appreciably. Every student has to drive along these roads to get to school. I tell my students that the subclavian artery is like Yackley Avenue, and when it crosses the lateral edge of the first rib (in this analogy, Maple Avenue, see Figure), it changes name to the axillary artery (College Avenue); it changes name again after crossing the inferior margin of the teres major muscle (Hobson Road, see Figure), at which point it becomes the brachial artery (Wehrli Road). I would wager that many (most?) towns in the United States have roads that change names in the same way, so that the analogy could be adapted to local conditions. A particularly good example, in Washington, DC, is Constitution Avenue, which starts as I-66E, changes to US-50E/Constitution Avenue after crossing Roosevelt Bridge, and then turns into Maryland Avenue after crossing 2nd Street NE.

Of course, every semester the students and I question the sanity of anatomists and city planners alike for changing a perfectly good name again and again. I wonder how many students, driving home from my anatomy class, are thinking about the different names for the main artery of the upper limb as they drive along Yackley Avenue/College Road/Wehrli Road?


Robert McCarthy is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL, where he teaches human anatomy and evolution to undergraduate biology and health science students. Robert is a biological anthropologist who studies the evolution of speech and language, the primate skull, hominin evolution, and human anatomic variation.