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My Dead Body; Broadening the reach of Anatomy Education

The anatomy team have adopted groundbreaking approaches to widening access to anatomy and clinical education. The generosity of body donors, new technology and the establishment of the Public Display license enabled the development of dedicated teaching sessions and the documentary My Dead Body, which has had a positive influence on millions.
University of Sussex

The anatomy team used advances in technology to navigate teaching anatomy during Covid and create a lasting and meaningful enhancement in how anatomy and clinical education is delivered around the world. Key examples of developments made during this time are live streaming from the anatomy dissection room and live streaming virtual reality in surgical teaching. The hub of this is the Anatomy Laboratory at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Aware of an educational need and public interest in health, the team set about aiming to engage individuals outside of the usual medical and allied health care professionals.

To achieve this, they became the first medical school in the United Kingdom to be granted a Public Display Licence for full body donors. In 2020, the team received their first donor who had consented to Public Display. This donor had been living with an extremely rare cancer and through discussions between the team, the donor's family and a television and media company, the documentary My Dead Body was formed. More than a thousand students who would not normally have access joined the team in workshops to understand more about this unique donor’s cancer. Filming took place during these workshops, resulting in a TV broadcast that expanded the reach of anatomy education to more than 1.5 million people. The work of the team has redefined what has been a ‘behind closed doors’ approach to teaching using cadaveric specimens and has created a lasting legacy for future generations.

Advance HE recognises there are different views and approaches to teaching and learning, as such we encourage sharing of practice, without advocating or prescribing specific approaches. NTF and CATE awards recognise teaching excellence in a particular context. The profiles featured are self-submitted by award winners.