OHSU

Demonstrator of Anatomy

A brief history of human anatomy and dissection will help set the stage for understanding the term, Demonstrator of Anatomy. 

For many centuries, anatomical studies were limited to textbooks with primitive drawings written by physicians such as Clarissimus Galenus (Galen). Galen, who was born in 130 A.D., is considered by many to be the most brilliant physician of the ancient world. By 21 years of age, he had written three textbooks and during his lifetime authored more than three hundred. Galen performed dissections but these were mostly on pigs and monkeys. His only human dissection was on a drowned man. Nevertheless, his writings and illustrations, many of which were structurally incorrect, served as the basis for European anatomical studies for the next 1,200 years. 

The unusual term of "Demonstrator of Anatomy" appears to have arisen in Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries. At the university in Bologna, the first great human anatomist, Mondino de Luzzi taught his pupils using Galen's anatomical writings and a dissected human cadaver. One of his students, the surgeon anatomist Guy de Chauliac, took this style of teaching to the University of Paris. There, students gathered around a human cadaver attended by two anatomists. One read from an anatomical work as the other "demonstrated" the corresponding structure(s), hence the "Demonstrator of Anatomy". 

Today in Oregon, the term "Demonstrator of Anatomy" is used in a slightly different context. It is a position outlined in Oregon State Statute, ORS 97.170 which specifies that the OHSU Board of Directors shall appoint the Demonstrator of Anatomy from the university's staff. The statute also directs funeral service practitioners to make available to the Demonstrator of Anatomy the bodies of unclaimed indigents for the purpose of medical instruction or the advancement of medical science. Further, the bodies of children who die under the guardianship of the state of Oregon may also be made available to the Demonstrator of Anatomy. 

Demonstrator of Anatomy responsibilities are outlined in ORS 97.170, and require the regulation of all bodies received via the donation process. This includes receipt, preparation, distribution, tracking and cremation of both indigent and donor bodies and the return of the cremains (cremated remains) to the next of kin. The Demonstrator of Anatomy also ensures appropriate use of cadaveric material provided by the Body Donation Program to other programs.