digital anatomy lab

Delving deep

digital anatomy labGross anatomy students can peel back the layers of a human body with the use of a video game controller.

A digital anatomy laboratory in the Health Science Center’s newest building, the Academic Learning & Teaching Center, allows students to view CT scans and MRI images of normal and diseased bodies and view them in 3-D. It’s all controlled through the use of a video game controller attached to a laptop computer.

Students can rotate images, zoom in and out, add filters to isolate certain tissues and generate a virtual cross-section in any plane. The images are projected onto multiple screens in the lab, and 3-D goggles allow the images to come to life.

The lab contains 84 stations for student learning and will be used to reinforce the concepts and anatomical relationships that students are taught in gross anatomy labs.

“This visualization system enhances the educational experience beyond what we can do in the gross anatomy lab,” said Omid Rahimi, Ph.D., director of the human anatomy program and a Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology. “[In a typical lab] you can’t pick up a set of blood vessels in isolation of other tissues and rotate them in front of your face. This tool allows students to do that. We are certainly excited about it.”

The lab, one of only a few in the country, will complement students’ understanding of the structure and function of organs, bones, muscles, nerves and tissues they are studying.

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