New Gross Anatomy Lab Promotes Collaboration

Published November 6, 2018 This content is archived.

story based on news release by ellen goldbaum

Gross anatomy class — arguably the most memorable class that medical students take — has a new home.


After being offered for six decades in cramped and aging facilities on the South Campus, it is being taught for the first time at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciencesnew building downtown.

Live Feed Allows Findings to be Shared at Once

Complete with customized dissection tables and plenty of elbow room for the 30-plus teams that descend en masse on the facility three times a week, the new facility is a quantum leap forward.

The new lab features numerous large computer screens linked to a live feed, so if a team sees something interesting, it can be shared at once with all 180 students. There are also separate, flexible labs, where advanced anatomy students — or emergency medical technicians from the community — can work. On the South Campus, everyone shared the same space.

Smaller Groups Improve Learning Experience

The new lab even seems to be improving how students work together, according to John Kolega, PhD, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, who has been teaching gross anatomy at the school for 25 years.

“Because we have more room, we can have more specimens and fewer students working on each one,” Kolega says. “Each student gets to see more and do more.”

That adds to the learning experience.  

“And because they’re working in smaller groups, the group dynamics at the tables seem much better,” Kolega adds. “I think the teams become stronger. Everyone’s engaged. It’s harder for someone to disappear into the background.”