UWP cadaver lab to open next semester

October 21, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-An opportunity many of us would cringe at has students from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville waiting in eager anticipation. The UWP Department of Biology will welcome a few new "bodies" to campus next semester with the opening of its first cadaver laboratory.

"I'm very excited about the cadaver lab and think this will be an enormous benefit to our already strong pre-heath programs," said Wayne Weber, associate professor and chair of the biology department. "The students are also really excited to get some hands-on experience with cadavers. Many of them would probably take the classes for no credit, just to have the experience."

The cadaver lab is being set up in Russell Hall this fall and will be ready for use next semester. The lab will feature four cadavers, three males and one female, an emersion tank for cadaver storage, an x-ray illuminator wall for viewing x-rays, four full-sized skeletons, several skulls and other equipment used for dissection.

"The UW-Madison Anatomy Department will provide us with the cadavers, which we will keep for a maximum of four years," Weber said. "Because of the embalming procedure, the cadavers can be used for a long time. We hope to bring in new cadavers, though, every two years on a rotating basis, so we will always have four cadavers at any given time."

The cadaver lab will be used mainly by biology students in pre-health programs such as pre-medical, pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, pre-optometry, pre-dental, pre-podiatry and pre-chiropractic. Students in the UWP School of Agriculture's pre-veterinary program may also utilize the lab.

"In addition to the already existing courses in our pre-health programs, we're proposing two new courses, human gross anatomy and advanced human dissection," Weber said. "One of the first classes students take in medical school is human gross anatomy. Introducing students to this course at the undergraduate level will not only familiarize them with the material, but will make our students more competitive than they already are.

"The advanced human dissection class will open to only the very advanced students who have already taken all the other anatomy courses. They'll be students doing the actual dissecting. Hopefully, we'll receive approval and be able to offer both of these new classes as early as next year."

While many classes will utilize the cadavers for observation and study, the types of research performed in the cadaver lab have not been determined at this point.

"Our research options will be somewhat limited because the cadavers will need to be returned to UW-Madison and eventually back to the families of the deceased," Weber said. "We'll be able to take biopsies and small tissue samples, but the cadavers will need to be kept intact, relatively speaking."

Funding for the lab has been provided by the laboratory modernization fund. UWP will pay service fees to UW-Madison for embalming, storage and transportation costs.

In the future, Weber said UWP anticipates opening the cadaver laboratory to local high school classes for presentations as a community outreach service.

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