“Tabling” has a New Meaning for the Sciences

May 23, 2017

by Dr. Nancy Morvillo
Professor of Biology
Edited for content and length

For any student aspiring to a career in the health sciences, the understanding of the human body begins with basic anatomy. Most students gain hands on experience with the intricacies of anatomical structures through dissection, but this typically involves organisms, such as rats and pigs, which seem far removed from humans. The ability to study human anatomy is a more difficult and expensive endeavor, requiring cadavers and specially equipped labs and trained personnel.

In the fall of 2014, Dr. Mick Lynch, Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator of Athletic Training, got a call from Catherine Miller, a student who was doing her athletic training senior internship with Stanford University.

“She had just seen this really cool huge iPad sort of table that had the entire anatomy of a person on it,” Dr. Lynch said. “One of the Stanford staff showed it to her while they talked about an injury they both had recently seen on an athlete. Catherine told me that we simply had to get one. So I started nosing around and found the device.”

The device is called an Anatomage Table, and it stores and displays digital images of all aspects of human anatomy. The digital images can be manipulated to reveal various systems and different levels of detail, and the images can be turned so they can be viewed from any angle, creating 3D images.

Through the efforts of Dr. Lynch, and with the support of Dr. Linda Comer, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dr. Brad Hollingshead, Dean of Arts and Sciences, FSC received a generous $100,000 gift from the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Fund to purchase our very own Anatomage Table.

“The table offers a unique opportunity to view the human body in 3D,” said Celina Bellanceau, Instructor of Biology at FSC. “We will isolate body systems and organs and then discuss the interdependence of all our body systems. We will be able to do cadaver dissections without the issues related to having a cadaver facility.”

Our science students will be able to use the table to examen all sorts of organisms.

“Understanding muscle action is hard when three dimensional movement needs to be incorporated,” said Dr. Lynch. “A thorough clinical physical exam has to consider all the structures in the area of interest. The Anatomage Table is a large step forward in our ability to help students think in this fashion.”

The table will be used by faculty and students from across campus, in Biology, Nursing, Exercise Science, and more. The table will be incorporated into classes commonly focused on anatomy, but also in courses that cover development, histology, and animal diversity.

“This technology is going to bring our Human Anatomy & Physiology laboratory sessions to a new level that will help prepare students for their future careers in the medical field,” said Professor Bellanceau.

Dr. Laura Habegger, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Biology Department, will be using the table extensively in her teaching. "The Anatomage table offers a unique bridge between anatomy and advanced digital technology, providing the students at FSC an exceptional interactive opportunity to learn anatomy with state-of-the-art technology,” she said.

The table contains images of humans with various diseases, and allows students to view sections of tissues, organs and bones that are impacted by these diseases. There is also an extensive library of images depicting injuries to bones and joints. And other images, such as CT scans, can be uploaded for viewing.

In addition to human anatomy, the table has many other uses. For example, images for studying the anatomy of a wide array of animals will be of interest to our pre-veterinary students. And the table provides examples of structures such as skulls injured by gun shots, which can be of use for our students studying criminology.

 Dr. Habegger is also excited to utilize the table for her research in morphology and biomechanics in fish. “Form-functional complexes are the basis for our understanding of adaptations,” she explains. “By having the opportunity to investigate the morphology of certain structures from CT scan images we can have a better understanding of their function.”

Many faculty members will spend a good part of this summer learning all the capabilities of the Anatomage Table and finding ways to incorporate it into their teaching.

Dr. Habegger sums up the view of the faculty: “The opportunity to intertwine teaching with the newest technology is not only exciting but also represents our commitment in providing a fully engaged learning experience to all our students at FSC."