University anatomy department create 3D body model

Professor Gordon Findlater with the human hologram. Picture:  Greg Macvean
Professor Gordon Findlater with the human hologram. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A NEW 3D hologram of the human body, created by Edinburgh University, would have put infamous cadaver collectors Burke and Hare out of business.

The first anatomy teaching tool of its kind is to be unveiled today at Edinburgh University’s Anatomy Museum.

The life-size teaching device shows muscle structures, skeleton, internal organs, blood vessels and nerves viewed from different angles.

Visitors will be able to view the 3D display, which is the largest anatomical hologram ever made.

The 3D image of a female body stands at 1.7 metres high and it is hoped that by studying it, it will help medical students understand of the complexity of the human anatomy in addition to traditional study of cadavers and textbooks.

Gordon Findlater, Professor of Translational Anatomy at Edinburgh University, said: “Teaching the true 3D structure of the human body to medical students can be challenging when teaching material is largely all in 2D.

“We hope that this hologram and others that we make in future, will introduce our students to a novel and innovative way of visualising 3D anatomy.” William Burke and William Hare were Irish immigrants living in Edinburgh during the 1800s.

Over ten months in 1828, the pair murdered 16 people and sold the corpses of their victims to Dr Robert Knox as dissection material for his well-attended anatomy lectures.

Burke was hanged for his crimes, while Hare was freed after he confessed and agreed to testify against Burke.

Burke’s skeleton is displayed at the Anatomy Museum along with his death mask and items made from his tanned skin are exhibited at Surgeons’ Hall.

The hologram was produced in collaboration with university anatomists and Scottish company Holoxica, one of the world’s leading research companies in holographic 3D displays.

It was commissioned by the university’s School of Biomedical Sciences and is to go on display at different sites across the university in the coming months.


Burke and Hare - murder for money?

• Gone are the murderous days of Burke and Hare but medical science still relies on cadavers donated for doctor training