Anatomy has been taught at Otago since 1875. Initially it was taught as a core component of the University’s medical degree but over the years it has evolved into the multi-disciplinary research intensive department it is today.
We have staff researching muscle architecture, neonatal development, palaeopathology, conservation genomics, aquaculture, human and animal fertility... We even have people working on how to create the body's most potent stem cells from ordinary adult cells, and others using genetics to understand evolution and extinction.
"Anatomy as practised today is a vibrant and exciting meld of clinical anatomy, neuroscience, developmental and reproductive biology, genomics and biological anthropology."
Neil Gemmell, Head of Department (2014—2017).
Because of this incredible diversity students studying anatomy have the luxury of choice.
While we may have changed a lot since the early days of Anatomy at Otago, teaching is still an important part of what we do. The difference is that today we don't just teach into the medical degree program, we teach into 13 majors, including forensics, neuroscience, genetics, social anthropology... and New Zealand's only Bachelor's degree in Anatomy.
Our 130 plus teaching, research and administrative staff come from all over the world. Add to that the 80 plus postgraduate students, and there are over 30 nationalities represented within the Department.
The reason we attract so many international staff and students is the breadth and quality of our research, and the incredible resources a large medical based department like ours has to offer.
"Being able to work with human cadaveric material is essential for establishing a basic understanding of human biology and building appreciation for the things that many researchers working with ancient human remains usually don't get to see."
Anne Marie Sohler-Snoddy, PhD Student, Biological Anthropology Research Group.
Body bequest programme
The Department's Body Bequest Programme is one of only a handful of bequest programmes still in existence anywhere in the world. An incredible fact given the invaluable resource these generously donated bodies offer to students and researchers alike.
"Everything learnt from this experience is owed to the people who have donated their bodies, and what is learnt from them now, will help us to help someone else in the future. This is something that will stay with us throughout our entire lives. Sincere thanks."
Emma Gray, 2nd Year Medical student