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From Torsos To Tsunamis

30 August 2005

From Torsos To Tsunamis

Inaugural Anatomy Conference Presents Wide-Ranging Research

Most people’s understanding of anatomy is somewhat limited: charts of body parts with impossibly long Latin names, television police shows in which the all-knowing coroner says “Look, the bullet has penetrated the pectoralis major…”.

The reality is that today’s anatomy is a whole lot more complicated than the knee-bone connecting to the shinbone, and has the power to reveal a great deal about what’s happening inside the human body, says Professor Helen Nicholson, Head of the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology at the University of Otago.

“People tend to think of anatomy as being all about dissection, but modern anatomy is the study of the structure of body - from the whole body down to organs, tissues and cells, and even the molecular structure of cells,” she says.

The Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, one of Australasia’s leading teaching and research departments, will host colleagues from both sides of the Tasman this weekend at the inaugural annual conference of Australian and New Zealand Association of Clinical Anatomists.

The two-day conference is an opportunity for New Zealand and Australian anatomists to discuss recent anatomical research, ranging from molecular biology to neurobiology, from bio-anthropology to more traditional clinical anatomy.

“There is concern from some surgeons that trainees don’t have enough anatomical knowledge so we are attempting to raise the profile of anatomy and foster a link between clinicians and basic scientists,” Prof Nicholson says.

The conference starts with a public lecture on Friday evening by three notable University of Otago researchers entitled “From Torsos to Tsunamis: Advances and Applications in Anatomy” covering a range of research and clinical application.

Anatomist Dr Ming Zhang will speak about new developments in anatomical plastination of human tissue samples, a process that replaces body fluids with a silicon polymer allowing for thinner, and therefore more detailed, cross sections to be made.

International Brain Research Young Investigator Award winner Dr John Reynolds, will talk about how brain cells are formed and how they work, and forensic dentist Professor Jules Kieser will talk about lessons learnt in Phuket following the tsunami on the anatomy of human identification.

“If you are interested in what happens in the body and how we develop new techniques and apply them to everyday life, including emergencies and medical treatments, then this lecture will fascinate you,” Prof Nicholson says.

- “From Torso to Tsunami: Advances and Applications in Anatomy” will be held in the Gowland Lecture Theatre in the Lindo Ferguson Building at 5.30pm to 6.30pm on Friday 2 September.


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