New Effort to Transform Perception of Anatomy

Published: 
Friday, December 23, 2016

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) Associate Professor Christina Lewis, PhD, and two colleagues from across the country recently received a grant to expand the public perception of anatomy through a multimedia outreach campaign.

The “I Am Anatomy” campaign will demonstrate through social media and a series of educational videos that a diverse group of scientists practice the discipline, not just those who teach “gross anatomy.”

“This perception of anatomists is kind of old school,” said Lewis, pointing to the stereotype of “a white-haired man who has been teaching anatomy in medical school for 50 years.”

The reality, she said, is that anatomy is practiced in many fields, including a wide range of scientific research, anthropology, genetics/genomics, and structural biology.

The public awareness campaign -- proposed by Lewis, Brent Thompson of Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and Joshua W. Little of Saint Louis University School of Medicine -- won the $50,000 grant from the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) Innovations Program.

Lewis and her colleagues will develop an archive of short videos showcasing anatomists and other scientists talking about how their work uses anatomical science. The videos will be shared on Facebook, YouTube and with AAA members as well as shown to middle and high school students across the country to inspire the next generation to engage in anatomy.  

Lewis, who teaches in SMU’s department of Basic Sciences, noted that every SMU graduate health science program requires students to take anatomy courses. “It’s hugely relevant and foundational for any healthcare profession,” she said.

They also hope to initiate a National Anatomy Awareness Week.

“We’re excited to expand the perception of anatomy both to professionals and the public,” said Lewis. “I hope we will get people to see anatomy in a whole new light.”

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