My first Human Anatomy and Physiology Society (HAPS) conference was in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2017. I was excited and nervous to attend because I had no idea what to expect when a group of anatomy and physiology professors came together. Accustomed to scientific meetings where there is cutthroat competition among attendees, I found this meeting refreshing because while there was the usual exchange of data, questions, and ideas, the general atmosphere was one of friendliness, openness, encouragement, and excitement. The most moving component was the love of teaching exuded by each member of HAPS. As I moved through the meeting and listened to my colleagues, I noticed the easy banter among them. Even when they discussed hardships, a general sense of camaraderie and heartfelt encouragement was palpable. The HAPS meeting that year focused on The Evolutionary and Developmental Bases of Human Anatomy and Physiology. As I sat engaged by the update speakers, I was struck by the comparison between the daily struggles we all face as professors and the evolutionary struggles of our ancestors. I realize that sometimes it’s hard to get out of our comfort zones and do all the extra stuff (asking for funding, scrounging for money, figuring out what to present at workshops, etc.) to get ourselves to be at a meeting, but I encourage you to take the time to venture into being a first, second or old timer at HAPS. Come walk among a most special breed of Homo sapiens: The HAPSters.
Hope to see you in Portland!
P.S. It’s not too late to make it to a Fall Regional Meeting near you!
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.
The human hand is challenging to study, due to having many narrow vessels and tendons packed together in a small space. Because of this, it is useful to have clear diagrams showing just a few structures at a time. From February to mid-March 2017, a human distal forearm was dissected and used as a model for six drawings in the style of a traditional anatomical atlas. These images are meant to be teaching tools for helping students identify structures, just like a professionally made atlas. During the dissection process, rough pencil sketches were made in the lab as new structures were exposed. Later, these sketches were redrawn in full color with colored pencil. Anatomical illustration could be an educational activity for students: by trying to draw diagrams clear enough for others to understand, students would retain more information and improve their communication skills.
In Dr. Olson’s basic gross anatomy course at NIU, the undergraduates often use atlases to help identify countless tiny structures. These atlases introduce students to the art of anatomical illustration, which has roots as far back as the Renaissance. The hand is an ideal subject for an atlas because it has so many tendons, vessels, and bones that can be difficult to keep track of, so it would be helpful to have clear diagrams of these parts. The hand is also more “relatable” relative to internal organs; hands are frequently used for nonverbal communication. People depend on their hands to do so many tasks everyday but rarely think about what goes on behind the scenes.
To separate the forearm from the cadaver, Dr. Olson steadied the body while I sawed (with an actual hand saw) through the radius and ulna distal to the elbow. I used a scalpel to cut a vertical slit in the skin along the anterior side of the arm, from the wrist to the bottom. Then I cut a horizontal line along the wrist and pulled back two flaps of skin to expose the flexors. With a scalpel and forceps, I removed fascia and fat from each muscle and vessel to see the structures more clearly. I made a pencil sketch of the flexors and used the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy 2nd edition to try to identify the structures myself. Then I checked my answers with Dr. Olson. For the next few weeks, I repeated this process of dissecting more structures, sketching the muscles, and labeling the drawings with help from Dr. Olson and TA Sally Jo Detloff. I was generally able to dissect tissues without damaging them, although I accidentally cut the ulnar nerve and had to tie it together with string. Between dissections, I sprayed the arm with humectant and wrapped it in terry cloth to retain moisture.
CREATING THE ATLAS:
When I had finished dissecting most of the arm and hand, I had a set of rough draft sketches to turn into final drafts. I redrew each drawing on larger paper and colored the new drawings with colored pencils. To make digital versions of the diagrams, I scanned the drawings and used the GNU Image Manipulation Program to fix margins and erase blemishes. Finally, I presented my work at NIU, at both the Phi Sigma Research Symposium and at the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day poster shows. I enjoyed teaching the attendees everything I had learned about how the arm works. At URAD, my project won second place out of fourteen exhibits (NIU “URAD and CES Winners Announced.”)
THE DRAWING PROCESS:
Before starting the atlas project, I had never made scientific illustrations and had not taken any illustration courses at NIU. My artistic education was mainly from drawing for fun and taking public school art classes prior to college. Other than confirming the labels with Dr. Olson, I worked on the atlas diagrams independently.
I used photos taken in the lab as references for my color palette, which was meant to be realistic but still simple to understand. Hence, the atlas colors were bolder and more diverse than in the actual arm, where arteries and vessels were the same colors and everything turned more orange over time. The nails were colored to match the cadaver’s nails, which were, in fact, dark magenta. See the final Forearm Atlas diagrams: Flexor Compartment Layers 1-3, Flexors in the Palm, Extensor Compartment Layer 1, and Lateral View: Extensors.
Other students could benefit from drawing their own diagrams of their dissections. Doing so would help them memorize the names, locations and relationships between structures. While drawing, students might come up with deeper questions about how the body works, like I did during my project. Students could trade drawings and give each other feedback about the clarity of the diagrams. Students would be reminded to focus their critiques on legibility and accuracy rather than on aesthetic appeal. By making their diagrams understandable to others, students would improve at teaching and communicating. Ideally, they would also have fun improving their drawing skills.
Thank you to HAPS for the Student Grant, and thanks to NIU’s Office of Student Engagement for providing me a grant from the Student Engagement Fund. This project was supported by the Body Donation Program at Northern Illinois University, supervised by Dr. Daniel Olson, Director of the Anatomy Laboratory, which ensured the proper and respectful handling and disposal of the tissues used in this project.
Schuenke, Michael, et al. Atlas of Anatomy. Second ed., New York, New York, Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 2012.
Eliya Baker graduated from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Premed Biology and minors in Psychology and Chemistry. She is not formally trained in art, but enjoys making art as a hobby. Her teacher and lab instructor is Dr. Daniel R. Olson Ed.D., the Director of the Anatomy Laboratory at NIU.
This post comes from the Communications Committee Talking Points Coordinator, Dr. Krista Rompolski of Drexel University.
The HAPS Annual Conference is less than a week away. I told my students the other day that for an A&P professor, this is Woodstock. They didn’t quite understand, but I’m sure you all do! This is the one event of the year where we can share our unbridled enthusiasm about the human body with people who feel the same, and don’t mind if you talk dissection over dinner.
The Communications Committee is always seeking ways to connect members and non-members with HAPS. As a fun way to keep us connected during the conference days, the ComCom has a special activity to share! Look out for this notebook circulating on the conference floor:
Think of this as the ComCom version of “hot potato.” I will start passing this notebook around during the social on Saturday evening. Here are the rules:
Keep the notebook for no longer than one hour (if you have it in your possession after 10pm, keep it safe until the following morning).
Using one or two pages, do one of the following:
Share a story about how HAPS changed your life in some way
Share a best or worst moment in teaching
Share a teaching tip; this could be your best advice, or something specific, like a drawing
Include your name, and where you are from. If you would agree to have your contribution shared in the conference wrap up publication, please put an asterisk after your name. I will take some photos of the submissions with asterisks and share those in a conference wrap-up blog post!
If you get the notebook and don’t want to participate, please randomly pass it along. But please pass it to someone you don’t know! We want to connect new HAPSters!
On Monday afternoon, whoever has the notebook at 4pm should return it to me, where the door prize drawings will be taking place. If those directions change due to conference timing or needs, I’ll indicate that in the front of the notebook. One lucky HAPSter will be randomly selected from the door prize pool to go home with this fun collection of HAPS memories/tips/stories!
I can’t wait to see what we come up with, and what we have to share! See you all in May!
This year the HAPS board has focused on clarifying our financial instruments and has completed a top-to-bottom review of our policies, procedures, and bylaws. This sort of work is detail oriented and can drag on, but is necessary for organizational efficiency. Some of the things that the board found during this process were surprising and some were reassuring. All of the findings reaffirmed the fact that HAPS is in a strong financial position and is focused on ways to help members far into the future.
The proposed set of revisions to the bylaws will increase financial transparency, clear up some confusion about past donations, and improve financial management. We’ll vote on these revisions at the Annual Conference in Columbus Ohio on May 29th, during the general membership meeting.
So what was reassuring about our finances? HAPS has grown its donated funds from essentially zero in 2009 (when fundraising began) to nearly $120,000 today. All these donated funds, and the interest generated from them, have been left untouched since at least 2013 to facilitate growth (HAPS has been funding scholarships out of the operating budget since 2013). Now that we have a sizable nest egg, the next step is to create a management and spending plan that is both sustainable and prudent. Through the proposed bylaws revisions, the HAPS board has created a new committee to do just that – the HAPS Finances Committee will provide guidance to the board on the management of both donations and general savings.
So what was surprising? Despite talk of a foundation for years, it turns out that no foundation was ever formally created – and apparently, that is a good thing! A foundation is an body that is formed around some problem or idea. A foundation is not specific to a single organization. For example, one might form a foundation to cure cancer and then give the foundation’s money to anyone working to cure cancer (not just to one institution). Obviously, HAPS donors never intended to give money to HAPS only to have HAPS give that money to a separate foundation. The HAPS “foundation” was just a misunderstanding of the terms being used, but the idea of supporting HAPS via donations is alive and well.
So what is changing in the bylaws? There are three main changes.
First, we will be following the suggestions of our attorneys and removing article 17 from the bylaws. This is the article that specifies a foundation and a bunch of other overly complex financial structures that HAPS does not need.
Second, we will be establishing a restricted endowment to properly channel some past donations.
And third, we will establish the aforementioned Finances Committee to advise the board on proper management of all HAPS funds.
If you’d like to brush up on some of those terms, check out the glossary in the “lots more info” tab in the 2018 conference app.
None of this is as exciting as HAPS Synapse! or any of the Update Speakers or workshops or posters, but governance has its place at an annual meeting. Hopefully we’ll see you there!
Many of us in HAPS have been fortunate to have learned human anatomy either by dissecting human specimens or by working with already dissected bodies. Many of us now teach students using human cadavers as the primary specimens for study in the lab. Beyond that, the anatomical knowledge of the general population results from investigations performed on dissected humans in the past. How many of us have ever considered where the dissected bodies came from? Probably very few; many of us can take for granted the present level of anatomical knowledge. Where these long-gone anatomists obtained their specimens never enters our conscious thought.
There is a rich history of human dissection dating back to before the start of the Christian era. There are references to human dissection, cadaver investigation, or funerary practices in Egypt, Persia, Babylonia and India that extend back in time over four thousand years. Even then a pattern emerges indicating that those with the least and those guilty of crimes bore the burden of serving as specimens for dissection. There was even a brief period shortly before the Christian era during which human vivisection was practiced on criminals in Egypt.
Over the span of time, bodies have come from multiple sources including debtors, societal outcasts, the mentally ill and strangers, recent unclaimed dead, anatomical oddities and even victims murdered specifically to serve as dissection specimens. Bodies obtained by “entrepreneur” grave robbers throughout the Renaissance and continuing well into the nineteenth century in Europe and America were the primary supply of bodies for dissection, with bodies stolen from the easily accessed burial sites used by families with few or no real financial assets, and rarely if ever from the much more secure cemeteries of the rich and privileged.
During the nineteenth century in Europe, donation of bodies by family members became legal as a way for the poor to eliminate funeral expenses. In Tasmania, genocide of the aboriginal population in less than a century largely benefited bone collectors back in England. In America, a booming business in the bodies of African slaves and freeborn blacks signaled another low point in this narrative.
Finally, the successful heart transplant performed in 1967 by Dr. Christian Barnard in South Africa triggered an increased interest in organ transplantation and the importance of organ and body donations. The result was the passage of the first Uniform Anatomic Gift Act in 1968, creating a sustainable system based largely on altruism to provide for both the needs of the transplant community and those of anatomy and medical education.
Hopefully this narrative that chronicles the thoughtless and often diabolical events of the past will spur those of us involved in anatomy and medical education to consider and appreciate the unwilling sacrifices of so many in the past that made the current state of anatomic knowledge possible. As educators, we should play a role in acknowledging, even briefly, this history to our students and the debt of gratitude we owe to so many who have been so wronged in the past.
Bill Perrotti is a HAPS President Emeritus and a professor at Pennsylvania State University.
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.
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.
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.