Cadavers enrich learning for art and science students

By Emily Lapinski

Some believe a body loses its value after death; however, year after year, Dominican students use cadavers on campus to enrich their study of the arts and sciences.

Every year since 2001, Dominican receives one male and one female cadaver from the Anatomical Gift Association. In the fall, the cadavers are blessed at the university. After a year, the cadavers are cremated and sent back to the families, if they wish.

Pre-Med Studies director Louis Scannicchio said: “The moms and dads and brothers and sisters of the deceased give the university the ultimate gift. We treat the cadavers with reverence and respect and truly appreciate the privilege we have to be able to use them for learning purposes.”

Students studying health sciences and medicine use the cadavers in anatomy classes. The bodies are stored in the Parmer Hall anatomy lab, where there is a morgue specially built for them. The bodies are stored in stainless steel containers and are taken out every Tuesday for about 10 hours to be used by students in the lab.

Sophomore Evelina Mitoraj, who is currently taking anatomy, said: “Working with cadavers is a unique experience. It would be hard to learn anatomy without them because seeing diagrams does not nearly live up to seeing and touching real human bodies. These cadavers are more than just specimens used to help us learn anatomy; in a way they are our first patients.”

Art students also learn from the cadavers. Painting and drawing professor Jeffery Cote de Luna uses the cadavers in his life drawing class.

Cote de Luna said: “Drawing from life is a form of investigation. I usually wait until the students have studied the bones and muscles of the rib cage, pelvis, upper and lower legs, shoulder girdle and upper arm before taking them to the labs. I want my life drawing students to understand the interconnection of muscles and bones as well as the form and function of surface muscles because, when drawing, one needs to reconcile what one sees with what one knows.”

The art students will use the cadavers as models on Oct. 31. The drawings will be displayed the following week in the anatomy lab.

Scannicchio said: “The cadavers allow a wonderful way of blending the arts and sciences. The artistry of the human body is explored both through art and dissection and, in both cases, students are able to learn valuable lessons. Having the cadavers on campus has been a success and we are so grateful to those who chose to donate their bodies to science.”

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