First Timer Experiences at The HAPS 2019 Conference

A note from Blog Master, Ann Raddant:
This post wraps up our series of posts looking back at the 2019 Annual Conference. If you missed any of the earlier posts, be sure to go back and give them a read. It’s almost like being back in Portland! Thanks again to all of the authors who contributed a post in this series: Meghan Moran, Bridgit Goldman, Andrew Russo, and the authors for the current post, Kevin Flaherty and Valerie Kramer. This post offers a glimpse into the first-timer experience from two participants. If you’ve never been to a HAPS meeting, I hope this post inspired you to make it happen to 2020!

HAPS member, Kevin Flaherty:
Like many of you, what I did on my summer vacation was to attend the annual HAPS meeting in Portland, OR. This was my first experience of a HAPS meeting, and what follows is my first timer’s experience of the event.

I loved it. My experience at HAPS provided me with several unique experiences that I want to bring into the other societies I belong to. One of the first unique experiences of HAPS was that I already had an idea of how the meeting worked and what the culture was like because of the A&P Professor podcast, which is sponsored by HAPS. The podcast’s host, Kevin Patton, did an episode specifically about the HAPS conference, which I found really helpful as I was preparing to go.

Another unique aspect of the HAPS meeting is the first timer breakfast. First-time attendees not only get a free meal, they also get to meet many senior members of HAPS, including the former presidents of the organization. Each table has a senior HAPS member stationed at it so that in addition to getting to meet other people who are attending the meeting for the first time, you also get to meet folks who have been around the academic block.

The Thursday talks were fascinating. I volunteered to be a Twitter correspondent for HAPS, and I found it to be a neat way to involve myself. The first talk I attended was Meghan Moran’s discussion of the relationship between the microbiome and bone. While I don’t want to recapitulate the talks here (my Twitter feed @kvflaherty has blow-by-blow accounts of all the talks I went to), I will say that this talk included my favorite line of the conference, when Dr. Moran lost her train of thought and said, “I forgot what I was going to say…it was really good though.”

On Saturday, I got my chance to contribute to the meeting. My former student, Ben Karger, and I have been researching the utility of virtual reality in anatomy education, so we hosted a workshop on VR and how it might be used in an anatomy classroom. I came away from the workshop feeling good about the level of interest in my research and excited to provide updates as my research continues.  

These moments were the ones that I really felt made HAPS for me. Every time I entered a room full of people, I instantly met people that I felt very comfortable conversing with.  Everything is easy-breezy at HAPS, even for us introverts. I’m not sure what happens behind the scenes to produce this sort of culture, but the product is a meeting that feels very welcoming.

McGraw Hill A&P Marketing Manager, Valerie Kramer:
While planning for the 2019 HAPS Conference, I knew there would be a lot to learn, presentations to give, and an exciting opportunity to meet new people and customers. What I didn’t know is that I’d leave with a conference experience like none I have experienced before. I didn’t just leave with business cards and a to-do list, I left with new friends and even more respect for those in the HAPS organization and the incredible instructors the organization serves.

 As a marketing manager for McGraw-Hill, I am responsible for hearing the needs of instructors and sharing those with our product team, then working with the product team to create the solutions instructors need for a successful experience in their course. Along with that important duty, which I believe is the most important, I get to spread the word about McGraw-Hill’s solutions in various ways, including email campaigns, on-campus relationships and presentations, and conferences like HAPS. Although marketing and conferences are not new to me, higher education has only been my work home for about two years and I’m absolutely in love. I began working with microbiology and nutrition, and recently moved into the best discipline—A&P! (Shhh… Don’t tell microbiology and nutrition instructors. They are pretty fabulous too.)

All this said, the HAPS Conference is not like any other trade show or conference, it’s unique. Why? Attendees WANT to be there! It’s a special time for instructors to bond and share similar stories and challenges. It’s a place where they can relax, laugh, and have fun in the comfort of those that share the same experiences! It’s a breath of fresh air as instructors finish their spring semesters and get re-energized for the coming year. It’s a place where learning happens and ideas flourish. A meeting of the minds I like to say, but most of all what I experienced was that HAPS is built on friends that motivate and inspire one other for the success of something bigger—their students and the future generations of educators, nurses and citizens.

Can’t wait to see the passionate instructors and meet new faces at the 2020 HAPS in Canada!

Kevin Headshot (1)

Kevin Flaherty is a visiting assistant professor teaching anatomy and neuroanatomy in the Biology Department at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. He received his PhD in Anthropology from Penn State in 2018. His primary research interests are craniofacial development, particularly developmental disorders such as craniosynostosis, and the use of 3D visualization technology in anatomy education. In his free time, he enjoys running, playing video and board games, playing fantasy football, and spending time with his wife and two daughters.


VKramer_headshot_smallValerie Kramer is the Anatomy & Physiology Marketing Manager for McGraw-Hill. With a passion for education and the life sciences, she is responsible for assisting in the development of and bringing to market innovative tools to help instructors and students succeed in the Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, and Anatomy and Physiology courses of higher education. At McGraw-Hill, she shares insights on the pulse of Anatomy & Physiology through her ‘Succeed in A&P’ podcast and recently helped bring the new interface of Anatomy & Physiology Revealed (APR) and Connect® Virtual Labs products to market.

Outside the office, she is committed to her local community and family as a volunteer for Dubuque Main Street, a development non-profit. She also enjoys fitness, traveling, and spending time with her husband and goldendoodle. 


Funding opportunities for the HAPS annual conference (part 2 of 2)

In addition to the Supported Awards that we covered in our previous post, there are four additional awards administered by the HAPS Awards & Scholarships Committee. These four awards fall into the category of HAPS Awards because they are funded by the HAPS organization using money donated by HAPS members. Each award targets a specific category of HAPS members to help them attend the HAPS Annual Conference in May 2020.

1 – The Robert B. Anthony Travel Award is for full-time faculty during their first five years of teaching.

2 – The Full-Time Faculty Travel Award is for full-time faculty who have taught for more than five years. 

3 – The Contingent Faculty Travel Award is for contingent faculty (see link for how HAPS defines “contingent” faculty).

 4 – The Student/Postdoc Travel Award has been expanded this year to include undergraduates as well as graduate students and postdocs.

All four awards pay the registration fee for the 2020 HAPS Annual Conference plus $400 to help with travel expenses to attend the conference

The final deadline to submit your application and one letter of recommendation is January 3, 2020.

More details about the awards and access to award applications can be found on the HAPS website:

Questions? Please contact Carol Veil, Chair of the HAPS Grants and Scholarships Committee.


Funding opportunities for the HAPS annual conference (part 1 of 2)

If you could use some financial assistance to travel to the 2020 HAPS Annual Conference in Ottawa, consider applying for an award administered by the HAPS Awards & Scholarships (A&S) Committee.  Seven total awards are offered this year.  This post details the Supported Awards which are funded by a vendor or an individual donor.

The ADInstruments Sam Drogo New Technology in the Classroom Award award encourages the innovative use of technology to engage undergraduates in human anatomy and physiology. The winner receives $500 to attend the HAPS Annual Conference.

The Gail Jenkins Teaching and Mentoring Award is for a HAPS member who demonstrates use of engaging learning activities to help students truly understand and retain Anatomy and Physiology with kinesthetic and active learning strategies and inexpensive everyday props. The award also recognizes those who mentor other instructors to incorporate active learning in their teaching to benefit more students. The winner will receive $1000 cash award provided by Wiley and will also have their registration waived for the HAPS Annual Conference in May 2020.

 The John Martin Second-Timer Award is a new award this year.  It is for HAPS members who have attended only one previous HAPS Annual Conference (does not matter which year, as long as it was an annual conference) and are in need of some financial assistance to attend this year’s annual conference as a Second Timer. The winner will receive $500 to use toward attending the HAPS Annual Conference.   Applicants must be full-time or contingent college/university faculty or full-time high school faculty, currently teaching anatomy & physiology with at least part of the teaching load being face-to-face, as opposed to totally online teaching.

The final deadline to submit your application and one letter of recommendation is January 3, 2020. 

More details about the awards and access to award applications can be found on the HAPS website:

Questions? Please contact Carol Veil, Chair of the HAPS Grants and Scholarships Committee.

Research Update on the Gut-Implant Microenvironment Axis

Hi HAPsters,

I am happy to be writing a follow-up on the work I presented to you at the HAPS meeting in Portland, OR in May 2019. To briefly recap, I use an in vivo rat model of osteolysis to understand the mechanisms driving implant loosening. After bilateral intramedullary implants are placed, weekly injections of particles are administered to each knee joint. These particles are either LPS-doped polyethylene (LPS-PE) or cobalt-chromium (CoCr); two materials common to orthopedic implants. I discovered that the particle challenge in this model is associated with pro-inflammatory alterations in the gut microbiome as shown at the phylum level.

Figure 1Fecal Firmicutes / Bacteroidetes ratio at the phylum level (1-way ANOVA p = 0.0282).

I also confirmed histologically that macrophage presence in the synovium is dependent upon particle challenge. Liver histology, which was read blindly by a veterinary pathologist, showed differential presence/absence of inflammation with particle treatment (p = 0.013, chi-square). Thus, we know there is inflammation local to the knee joint and remote in the liver; however, it is not currently clear if the liver effects precede, were secondary to, or were simply coincident with changes in the gut microbiome.

In a recently completed probiotic treatment experiment, I aimed to induce osteolysis using CoCr particles and then prevent implant loosening with a probiotic treatment of Lactobacillus reuteri. L. reuteri has been shown to decrease gut inflammation and increase bone density, prevent bone loss following ovariectomy and prevent bone loss post-antibiotic treatment in mice[1-4]. Plus, this probiotic has been shown to reduce age-related bone loss in a placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial in humans[5]. Therefore, from the literature, this probiotic seemed to be a good candidate to dampen implant loosening from peri-implant bone loss. However, I found that the probiotic treatment did not change the gut microbiome and did not affect the implant microenvironment in Sprague-Dawley rats. From the microbiome analysis, I now know that S-D rats have an already high abundance of L.reuteri in their colon. A few possible reasons for the lack of probiotic effect in my model are: 1) there was no ‘niche’ in the gut for MORE L. reuteri to settle into, 2) the dose I administered was too low and/or 3) my probiotic was not viable. On another note, I have also learned that when I do not induce a change in the peri-implant bone (because sometimes our model does not ‘behave’), then the gut microbiome is unaffected. Together, our data still support the interaction between alterations in the gut microbiome and peri-implant bone loss following particle challenge.

Figure 2

Bidirectional gut-implant microenvironment cycle.

Don’t give up on the probiotics! The above-cited literature tells us this bacteria increases bone! Just because I did not get it to work in my model on the first try does not mean all hope is lost. I plan to revisit L. reuteri treatment in an upcoming experiment (after I complete a dose-response study) that will also include a prebiotic (high fiber ‘food’ for the bacteria already in the gut) treatment. Currently, I’m pursuing local inflammatory gene expression in the synovium and peri-implant tissue to determine if there is local upregulation and I plan to expand this to remote gene expression in the colon.


  1. Britton RA, Irwin R, Quach D, Schaefer L, Zhang J, Lee T, Parameswaran N, McCabe LR. Probiotic L. reuteri treatment prevents bone loss in a menopausal ovariectomized mouse model. J Cell Physiol 229(11): 1822, 2014
  2. McCabe LR, Irwin R, Schaefer L, Britton RA. Probiotic use decreases intestinal inflammation and increases bone density in healthy male but not female mice. J Cell Physiol 228(8): 1793, 2013
  3. Schepper JD, Collins FL, Rios-Arce ND, Raehtz S, Schaefer L, Gardinier JD, Britton RA, Parameswaran N, McCabe LR. Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri Prevents Postantibiotic Bone Loss by Reducing Intestinal Dysbiosis and Preventing Barrier Disruption. J Bone Miner Res 34(4): 681, 2019
  4. Collins FL, Rios-Arce ND, Schepper JD, Jones AD, Schaefer L, Britton RA, McCabe LR, Parameswaran N. Beneficial effects of Lactobacillus reuteri 6475 on bone density in male mice is dependent on lymphocytes. Sci Rep 9(1): 14708, 2019
  5. Nilsson AG, Sundh D, Backhed F, Lorentzon M. Lactobacillus reuteri reduces bone loss in older women with low bone mineral density: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, clinical trial. J Intern Med 284(3): 307, 2018

Headshot Feb 2017

Dr. Moran is an Assistant Professor at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) in the Department of Cell & Molecular Medicine in Chicago, IL. She conducts basic and translational research to understand the connection between the gut and bone. She uses a pre-clinical model of aseptic peri-implant osteolysis, which is bone loss around an implant, which is triggered by inflammation. This model mimics the osteolytic condition in humans with failed implants. Her goal is to understand the connection between the gut and bone to ultimately identify novel, non-invasive means to delay or mitigate implant loosening and the resulting invasive implant revision surgery by targeting the gut. Dr. Moran also taught human gross anatomy for 10 years to first-year medical students and physical therapy students.

Vibrating beyond anatomy

The first breath.

The downbeat.

Music surrounds me.

I am happy.


I smile at my memory of singing in a choir.

I grew up oscillating between playing the piano and taking apart human anatomical models, so I was thrilled when 2019 HAPS speaker Lawrence Sherman, from Oregon Health & Science University, brought together my two favorite worlds: science and music.

The MRI scans of active music-making were fascinating. Dr. Sherman showed how the same parts of the brain are activated when one is learning new music, regardless of ability. Another scan showed an improvising jazz pianist which displayed that several parts of the brain turn off during this intense activity. He went on to explain exciting research on how music can stimulate neurogenesis

As Dr. Sherman led us through this data, my thoughts drifted to my own experiences as a musical performer. As a young adult, I had the privilege of singing with The Canticum Novum Singers; a New York City based chorus under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum. In one particular performance when we sang  Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden, I experienced my anatomy in a surreal way:

We were on the stage at Lincoln Center looking out to a full house. My black binder filled with music was held high and my eyes were focused on the Maestro. The first breath. The down beat. Music surrounded me; beautiful voices, harmonies, the breath of my fellow singers… then something changed.

As I continued to sing, I felt myself as a beating heart in a body like no other. I was connected by vibrational blood vessels to the singers around me and to my conductor, who was our new nervous system, his motions telling us how fast/slow/loud/soft to sing. A powerful and unique energy field united us in song. The music on the page, a series of dots and lines, were as a genetic code, expressed by each musician and understood as we transcribed and translated our individual parts into a phenotype of beauty surrounding us and extending out to the audience.

In those moments I was a living being greater than myself. A being connected through the power of musical vibration.

Thunderous applause brought me back to myself, but the experience has always remained with me. If a scientist had analyzed my brain during that experience, what would my MRI scan have looked like in those moments? 

When we create music with a group, perhaps vibrational waves sum together and create a force grander than our own.  For many cultures, group singing is a common practice. The vibrations, tones and rhythms strengthen community and embody the musical history and evolution of humans in a way that an MRI scan can only begin to image. 

HAPS gives us another way to connect. Like singing in a choir, working and helping each other solve problems through HAPS brings us together and reminds us that no matter where we are, we have a community of professors ready to help us and connect us so that we can grow in our field.

Dr. Sherman’s talk inspired me to learn new piano music when I returned home. But more importantly, he reminded us all how music can increase neuroplasticity and ignite feelings of camaraderie. He gave us something truly special when he had the audience of his lecture stand up and sing those lovely notes from The Beatles’ Hey Jude. He bonded us not only through being at the HAPS annual meeting, but through the power of music. We vibrated together beyond our anatomy. 

We can strengthen that bond through continuing to reach out to each other in the myriad ways HAPS has to support us. I hope we can all sing together again at HAPS in Ottawa, 2020. Until then, we can hum the Beatles tune we all sang together, “nah—nah—nah, nah nah nah…”


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 in Loudonville, NY.

Chronic disease begins in the womb – and earlier

Dr. Kent Thornburg of Oregon Health & Science University presented an intriguing “Update Seminar” at the HAPS meeting in Portland, OR that discussed the increased incidence of some chronic diseases in the US and their likely epigenetic origins from even before we are born.

The implications of his talk were quickly apparent when he made the point that, after over a century of steady increases in life expectancy, the predicted life expectancy in the US has actually decreased since 2015. This should get everyone’s attention. Why in this age of plenty are we dying younger? Dr. Thornburg postulated that plentiful access to calorie-rich and nutrition-poor food has led to the current epidemic of obesity and its associated chronic diseases, most notably diabetes and cardiovascular complications. Indeed, to put a dollar amount on it, we are currently paying over $500 billion per year to treat cardiovascular diseases and that number is projected to reach over one trillion dollars per year by 2035. These costs are not sustainable under any sort of healthcare plan.

While clearly obesity of the current generation is a major concern, it is the prenatal epigenetic signature of obesity that is cause for even more concern. An epigenetic signature is a set of inheritable marks on our DNA due to DNA methylation and histone modifications. As a result, the nutrition state in the womb can affect the later health of the child, for example:

  1. The correlation of birth weight and risk of heart disease, diabetes, etc.  is a U-shaped curve in which being too small (< 5 lbs at birth) and being too large (> 10 lbs. at birth) are both associated with higher chances of chronic diseases in later life. Obese mothers are prone to give birth to babies who fall on either arm of the U-curve. This suggests that our health destiny is partly established by our mother and the conditions we experienced within the womb.
  2. The Dutch hunger study has shown chronic diseases were maintained in 3 successive generations of the people who faced starvation during World War II. This can be explained by the fact that the grandmother who actually suffered starvation nourished not only her baby daughter in utero, but also nourished that baby’s developing ovaries. Hence, grandma’s nourishment state could directly affect the nourishment of her children and even her grandchildren before they are born.
  3. Finally, the impact of epigenetics on our traits is no more apparent than in identical twins. An interesting bit of trivia for mystery sleuths is that the swirls that define our fingerprints are determined by nutritional state of the fetus and even with two fetuses within the same placenta, about 70% of identical twins have different fingerprints. Not surprisingly then, about 80% also die of different diseases, supporting the potential for epigenetic factors to combine with or modify genetic determinants of our health.

In summary, Dr. Thornburg concluded that we in the US are dealing with what he called “high caloric malnutrition” leading to “smoldering inflammation” in babies and future generations. Not the inflammation we commonly think of with immune system responses, but rather an inflammation caused by the “epigenetic burden” that leads to chronic disease. However, he did end with two important notes. First, we cannot blame the mothers since they are eating the same diet we all are. And secondly, based on animal studies, there is evidence that at least some of the epigenetic burden can be changed over time. So, there is hope.

Want to hear more of the story directly from Dr. Thornburg? Check out his TED Talk here. 

Copyright property of Todd Adamson

Andrew Russo is a Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Neurology, at the University of Iowa. Dr. Russo received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, followed by postdoctoral training in molecular neurobiology at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Russo’s research area is the molecular basis of migraine. His lab uses mouse genetic models to study how the neuropeptide CGRP contributes to the pain and altered sensory perception that is a hallmark of migraine. In addition to his research, Dr. Russo enjoys teaching, which led to him becoming a co-author of Seeley’s Human Anatomy and Physiology textbook. He is a member of HAPS and especially enjoys the generally excellent update seminars at the annual meetings.


Anatomy & Physiology students share their knowledge with the world through Wikipedia


We all know that students use Wikipedia. But many don’t have the skills to evaluate the accuracy of the information they read there (Wineburg et al., 2016). Instead of issuing a blanket ban on the website, many professors are now having their students write Wikipedia articles as an assignment. As one put it, “Students can’t cite Wikipedia if they’re writing it.”

In a Wikipedia writing assignment, students play the role of “expert” as they summarize course content into relevant Wikipedia articles. The exercise essentially mirrors a lit-review assignment, except that millions of people have access to that student work.

It’s part of a growing movement of educators embracing Wikipedia as a learning tool, with instructors from more than 500 universities involved in the US and Canada. Most aren’t familiar with the inner-workings of Wikipedia, but still successfully guide their students in editing articles thanks to free support and student trainings offered by Wiki Education

Practicing science communication on a world stage

By bringing their work to Wikipedia, students make a difference for public knowledge while also diving deeply into course content. Last term, a student at Drew University contributed well-referenced content to Wikipedia’s article about Sheehan’s syndrome, adding sections about its causes and history. Now the almost 200 daily visitors to the page can access better information summarized from academic sources.

Another student, from Fordham University, expanded the Wikipedia article about intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in 2017, adding new sections about structure and function. They were even inspired to create and add a new diagram (Fig.1). Since then, the page has been viewed almost 50,000 times by Wikipedia’s readers.


Fig 1: Diagram of inputs and outputs of ipRGCs and their corresponding location in the brain, created by a Fordham University student as part of their Wikipedia writing assignment [image link]

Sometimes instructors have students create new Wikipedia biographies for women scientists instead of having them expand articles about course topics. Only 18% of Wikipedia biographies are about women, so when students participate in this endeavor, they are helping correct that gender gap in public knowledge. Having students write Wikipedia biographies for women in STEM not only demonstrates to them that diversity and inclusion belongs in STEM, it asserts that to the world. 

Student learning outcomes

Instructors have found a Wikipedia writing assignment to be an opportunity to solidify students’ research skills, critical media literacy, and ability to write for a public audience (Vetter et al, 2019). By participating in the production of knowledge on a site they use all the time, students understand where that information comes from and how to assess the accuracy of online information they encounter in the future.

Want to get involved?

If you’re interested in improving science content on Wikipedia, there are a few ways to get involved:

  • Use Wiki Education’s free assignment templates to have your students write Wikipedia articles related to your course topic:
  • Learn how to edit Wikipedia yourself and expand your educational reach to the public:



As Wiki Education’s Outreach and Communications Associate, Cassidy Villeneuve helps share the impact of Wikipedia editing on students, professionals, and public knowledge.

HAPS Diversity & Inclusion Survey

In the fall of 2018, HAPS approved a new task force; the Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG). This was a significant step for HAPS as a professional society. In a January 2019 blog post, Kathy Burleson, the DIG chair, explained its purpose, which is “to develop best practices, resources, and professional development for inclusive education in anatomy and physiology.” Attendees of the 2019 HAPS annual conference in Portland may recall numerous workshops, speakers, and posters promoting diversity and inclusion inside and outside of our classrooms.

 Since the mission of HAPS is to promote excellence in the teaching of A&P, we as educators must continue to strive to understand the unique identities, perspectives, and experiences of our students if we are to overcome barriers to learning. However, to move forward with that mission in a united way, HAPS needs to address any barriers to inclusion within our own member base, and understand the unique needs of our members. To accomplish this goal, the DIG created the HAPS Diversity & Inclusion Membership survey. The purpose of the survey is to gather membership data that will tell us who we are as an organization and identify needs regarding diversity and inclusion.

 The expected outcomes of the survey include the development of teaching resources, professional presentations and social events at HAPS meetings, potential funding opportunities, and the development of a 5-year plan for HAPS around diversity and inclusion.

Please consider taking the Diversity & Inclusion Survey–HAPS members should check their inboxes to find the link. Participation is entirely voluntary. The IRB-approved survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and those who finish the survey are eligible to win one of six $50 Amazon gift cards. Questions concerning the IRB for this survey should be directed to Theo Smith, If you have any other questions about this survey or would like to get involved with DIG, please contact Kathy Burleson,

Cleaning Anatomical Models with Denture Tablets

TeethThe weeks leading up to the start of a new semester are busy ones filled with ordering supplies, scheduling teaching assistants, and cleaning the lab. After scheduling custodial services for the big jobs and performing the little jobs, I never seem to have time to clean the models (most of which are 30+ years old!). A couple of models were so covered in grime, grease, adhesives from practicals past, ink, etc., that it was easier to put them back on the shelf and ‘deal with it later.’ In January 2018, however, I found myself with a bit of time and was finally going to clean one of our dental models that I couldn’t, in good conscience, discard without at least trying to clean it. My original plan was to use dish soap and an old toothbrush to clean it. I gave up after 30 minutes as I wasn’t making a dent in the grime. I considered other options, but the model was too big for our ultrasonic cleaner and I didn’t want to put it through a cycle in a dishwasher for fear that the force of water jets and heat would warp the model or remove paint.

SkullsAs I considered my next step, I recalled my recent dental work — two root canals, a bone graft, failed implants, and a temporary bridge. In an example of chance favoring the prepared mind, I thought: ‘I’m holding a model of teeth. It is made of plastic, a little metal, and a bit of paint — just like the bridge I soak every night. Would denture cleaning tablets work? It’s unlikely that I would damage the model by soaking it overnight and worth a try.’

After a 30-second rinse and brushing the morning after the soak, the model was like new. The difference was so striking I felt I had performed a magic trick. I immediately set out to clean another model to convince myself that this was repeatable. I use a basic methodology of 1 denture-cleaning tablet per 250ml of water (approximate) and an overnight soak. Models are rinsed the next day and gently scrubbed with a soft sponge. Paint that is not heat-set can be rubbed off if you scrub too vigorously. An old toothbrush can be helpful for hard-to-reach places.


Why does it work?

Denture cleaning tablets are primarily composed of sodium bicarbonate (i.e., baking soda — a mild alkali which functions as a degreaser), an oxidizer, and a scent (typically mint). I have been testing the use of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide as soaking and cleaning agents with similar results and have been considering OxiCleanTM (composed of sodium percarbonate (i.e., sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide), soda ash, and detergents) as a cleanser. Costs for denture cleaning tablets, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, and OxiCleanTM are minimal and can ‘pay for themselves’ by extending the working life of your models. Limitations are the size of soaking containers and rinsing facilities.


  • Perform a small-model test case before working with larger models or several models at once.
  • I do not recommend using this technique on models made of plaster.
  • Examine models for any puncture holes (for screws, hooks, etc.) and position models during soaking to avoid waterlogging.





Carol Britson is an Instructional Associate in the Department of Biology at the University of Mississippi where she teaches Vertebrate Histology, Human Anatomy, and Introductory Physiology for science majors and Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II for allied health students. In 2018 she received the University of Mississippi Excellence in Teaching award from the PLATO (Personalized Learning & Adaptive Teaching Opportunities) Program supported by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The 2019 Annual Conference App is here!

The 2019 HAPS Annual conference app is ready for download and ready for you!


Full schedule, easy to access. All official events are listed in the app, and all you have to do is click on the star next to an event to add it to your personal schedule.

All workshop presenters are listed, so you can find workshops by presenter or by knowing when to look. Poster first presenters are listed as well, with poster abstracts in the presenter’s bio.

Want to participate in the social stream in the app? All you have to do is register within the app and start posting! Look in the exhibits hall in the first two days to see all social posts projected on the giant social wall!

Looking for members of the HAPS leadership? They would love to hear your suggestions and will be wearing bullseye buttons to make them easy to spot. But if you’d like to get a look at them before (or after) meeting them, all their names and photos are in the app.

HAPS conference participants come from all over the world to attend this conference, and we’ve got an interactive map of all participants in the app. As you zoom in you’ll see more and more detail down to the city level.

Interested in beginning your path towards HAPS leadership? The best start is by joining a committee. Use the app to let committee chairs know about your interest and they will contact you in June.

Need more information? The app has GPS-enabled maps to show you where you are and highlights the venues we’ll be using during the conference. There is also the “Lots more info” section with, you guessed it, lots more info.

Download the app today and get started planning your personal HAPS Annual Conference schedule!