Not your average touch screen

Biology students at SUNY Oneonta now have an exciting new way to learn about the human body. This past fall, the college installed a virtual dissection table in Dr. Keith Schillo’s anatomy and physiology lab. Powered by specialized software, the 500-pound, flat-screen table allows students to see and manipulate images of the human body, created using hundreds of slices from actual frozen cadavers.

For example, with the virtual scalpel tool, Schillo can “slice” a cross-section of the body with his finger to get a 3D view of what’s inside. With a few taps, he can take away entire body systems or highlight a particular muscle.

A cadaver lab requires a significant investment in space, storage facilities, ventilation and security, plus up to $5,000 per cadaver. The $79,000 Anatomage table—funded by a SUNY Oneonta StAR (Strategic Allocation of Resources) grant—is a cost-effective alternative that is already helping to position Oneonta as a school of choice among talented pre-health students. Schillo recalls a recent prospective student visit, where a parent commented, “The last school we saw only had a cadaver lab,” after seeing a demo of the table.

Over the past five years, SUNY Oneonta has seen an explosion in biology enrollment, largely due to growing interest in the pre-health professions.

Associate Professor of Biology Keith Schillo demonstrates the Anatomage virtual dissection table for students in an anatomy and physiology lab.
Photo by Michael Forster Rothbart

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