New book celebrates Dundee’s anatomical history
Published on Mon 18 Nov 2019 by Jonathan Watson
For more than a century, students at the University of Dundee have learned how to prolong life by studying the dead.
Now, as the institution celebrates another major milestone in its history of anatomical research, a new book has been launched to chart 130 years of pioneering work at Scotland’s number one destination to study Forensic Science.
To Bodies Gone charts the teaching of Anatomy from Dundee’s days as a fledgling University to its modern day status as a centre for excellence in the field.
As well as providing training to generations of medical experts, the University has, through its Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID), more recently developed a reputation for its ground-breaking work in supporting forensic science and the justice system.
The book will be launched at a special reception at the University’s Dalhousie Building on Friday 22 November, featuring a panel event that will include former Anatomy Chair Professor Dame Sue Black and former University Principal Sir Pete Downes.
Author Eddie Small, who is also the School of Humanities Public Engagement Officer, said “Anatomy was initially viewed as a precursor to teaching medicine at the University, but over the decades the subject became an integral part of the institution.
“Today, CAHID has become a backbone of the British legal system. The skills developed here at Dundee are implemented from Caithness to Cornwall.
“When Professor Dame Sue Black introduced Forensic Anthropology as a subject, Dundee became the go-to destination for police to come to when they needed help and we introduced a special module for police staff to allow them to deal with incidents of mass fatalities.
“CAHID is known as a place of innovation, becoming the first UK University to work solely with Thiel cadavers, and the home of technology that recognises hands and forearms to secure the convictions of child abusers. That is why Dundee is so highly regarded throughout the judicial world.”
Anatomy was brought to University College Dundee, the precursor to the University of Dundee, in 1889. Though regarded initially as a means of supporting courses such as Medicine, the subject soon established itself as a core discipline.
Having always enjoyed a strong international reputation - welcoming students from the United States as far back as 1916 - the opening of the highly-specialised CAHID building in 2008 focused the spotlight further on the University.
“The work of CAHID is lauded around the world for many reasons,” added Eddie.
“There is huge interest in body donation, a subject that we have helped to promote the discussion of, as well as the people who work here. Myself and Professor Black have spoken in theatres about her career and these events have been sold out. There is an endless fascination about our work so to be able tell the full story of the history of Anatomy at the University is a huge privilege.”
The To Bodies Gone launch event takes place in the Dalhousie Building, Old Hawkhill, from 6-7pm on Friday 22 November.