Coronavirus Updates and Information
Students using a life-size digital cadaver lab
News Academics, Students, UNW News

New 3D Digital Cadaver Lab Provides Access to Hundreds of Human Specimens at the Touch of a Finger


By Daniel Fenske on Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Imagine having access to life-size, head-to-toe, three-dimensional veins, muscles, arteries, organs, and bones—fully dissectible and ready to explore with just the touch of a finger—all in the convenience of a digital “tablet.” While this may sound fascinating to most, for biology, nursing, and other health science majors, this could change everything. 

This fall, University of Northwestern became one of only three universities in Minnesota to provide a digital human cadaver lab to students at the undergraduate level. Called the Anatomage, “the world’s first virtual dissection table” allows students to dissect and study hundreds of digital human arterial, vascular, muscular, nervous, and vein systems, as well as organs and bones—all the intricacies found within the amazing human body.

I have 55 students in my class and every single one of them has been logging in an incredible number of hours on the cadaver lab. They're learning more than any classes learned before.
Dr. Gary Mumaugh

Engaging and Accessible

Biology and health science pathways can be some of the most demanding and intensive areas of study for undergraduates. Students invest countless hours studying the body, among other topics, but critical time studying actual human anatomy on cadavers can be hard to come by due to the cost and availability of specimens.

In a traditional lab setting, human cadavers can cost an upwards of $1,000 each and are limited in availability. Additionally, strict policies dictate that students can only study human cadavers under the close supervision of professors or teaching assistants, greatly reducing available time to observe and learn.

With the addition of a virtual three-dimensional cadaver table in Northwestern's newly renovated anatomy lab, students are now able to access the virtual cadaver system 24 hours a day.

"I have 55 students in my class and every single one of them has been logging in an incredible number of hours on the cadaver lab," says Dr. Mumaugh, Assistant Professor of Biology and Chemistry. "They're learning more than any classes ever learned before." 

State of the Art

Northwestern is one of only three schools in the state of Minnesota that incorporates this 3D cadaver table as a part of the lab experience. The technology is also being used by an increasing number of medical schools and by well-known companies, such as 3M and Medtronic, making Northwestern students highly employable.

Besides the obvious benefits, Dr. Bruce Simat, Associate Professor of Biology, highlights that this state-of-the-art equipment gives students the ability to study different pathological cases concerning diseases and other bodily conditions. Within moments, students can call up on the screen the brain of a middle-aged women with dementia, or a heart affected by coronary disease. 

Students are learning about the body anatomically and physiologically. "They can actually see every organ from every direction—and cut it in any direction, says Bruce. "We're actually dissecting because we're using our finger to cut."

Nursing students examining digital cadaver
"When I first turned it on, I spent about five hours just learning. I just got so enthralled with it." —Joshua Krueger '20, UNW teaching assistant

Grace Wilson '20, a UNW teaching assistant, speaks to the rich study tool the cadaver table is, with features that allow her to touch, see, and rotate each individual muscle and bone—including the smallest bones and muscles in the face and ear—and immediately see the name of each part displayed. Joshua Krueger '20 agrees: "When I first turned it on, I spent about five hours just learning. It's fairly intuitive. I just got so enthralled with it," says.

    Professor showing students how to use the digital cadaver lab

    God’s Creation on Display

    "We see the magnificence of God's creation here more than any other place on campus. We find that to be quite an honor." —Dr. Gary Mumaugh

    Besides the academic benefits of the lab, this digital lab allows students to admire God’s creation in a way that greatly impacts their faith. "I've noticed over the years that in the lab our faith actually grows," says Mumaugh. 

    "You wouldn't think faith would grow in a place where you see yucky human specimens, but we see the magnificence of God's creation here more than any other place on campus. We find that to be quite an honor."

    If you're interested in learning more about the Biology degrees available at Northwestern, or would like to see this new, state-of-the-art equipment in person, please visit unwsp.edu/admissions.

    Related


    Professor giving instructing students in a biochemistry lab

    Biochemistry

    • Bachelor of Science

    Science exists because of God, not instead of God. Discover the miracle of how chemical processes interact to affect all living things. Our science professors will equip you to succeed in the field of medicine, research, or other scientific fields. This program focuses on carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and the processes of these molecules within living things. This degree will prepare you for a career in research, medicine, and other scientific and healthcare fields.

    Students working on biology homework

    Biology

    • Bachelor of Science

    Work with professors on cutting-edge research while developing a deeper appreciation for God’s design in nature. The biology program investigates the mechanisms and connections of living things from molecules to ecosystems. This degree lays the foundation for careers in medicine, laboratory research, ecology, conservation and other scientific fields.

    Professor giving anatomy lecture

    Health Sciences

    • Bachelor of Science
    • Bachelor of Arts

    At Northwestern, students will learn, review, and teach together in group settings while participating in advanced internships and working alongside caring faculty. This degree is a solid underpinning to enter the professional world or for graduate study. You will be prepared to pursue a Master in Nursing, Master in Physician Assistant, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master in Nutrition, or Master in Public Health.

    Student and professor aiding patient

    Nursing

    • Bachelor of Science

    The philosophy of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) pre-licensure program has been framed by the concepts of the nursing paradigm, ministry and service, and by beliefs about a sovereign God within a biblically-based Christian Worldview. The BSN program provides a strong foundation in biblical studies, liberal arts, and the sciences. The program is organized around a framework of providing answers (program outcomes) to nine essential questions.

    Become a Student

    Apply

    Visit us on Campus

    Schedule a Visit

    Ask Questions & Connect

    Contact Us
    Array ( )