Feb 28, 2024 - News

Human and animal dissections go virtual in multiple Iowa colleges

A photo of virtual dissection.

Some of Iowa State University's animal science classes started using virtual anatomy in 2022. Photo: Courtesy of ISU

A virtual dissection table is now in use at Iowa State University.

  • ISU is believed to have the country's only animal science and pre-veterinary college programs using the technology, the university announced this week.

Why it matters: The digital systems have greatly elevated the standard of anatomy education in medical and nursing schools, according to an article by medical journal Cureus.

How it works: Virtual dissections provide interactive life-size representations of body parts, allowing users to do things like peel off skin to display muscles and instantaneously compare differences between anatomies.

  • They're often considered a supplementary educational resource, according to Cureus.

Zoom in: ISU introduced its first virtual dissection in their animal sciences programs in the fall of 2022. Traditional methods of studying animal physiology are still in use.

  • The system — which includes both human and animal digital models — cost $50,000 to install and is used by about 400 students a year, ISU spokesperson Dave Roepke tells Axios.
  • Digital human anatomy is often used in ISU's program because the working structures of body parts such as hearts are similar to animals, per ISU.

Fun fact: Drake University's College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences introduced the 3D technology last fall and published a video of its new system.

  • Drake is also launching a new nursing degree program starting later this year and those students will use its virtual dissection table, spokesperson Ashton Hockman tells Axios.
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