Anatomy Now 08.30.23

Anatomy Now - August 30, 2023


Anatomy Now: The Official Newsletter of the American Association for Anatomy


Volunteers – We Need You!

As we settle into our fall semester, meet new students, or start new research projects, we at AAA seek new volunteers to serve on committees to move the association forward.


Let me start by saying that AAA would not be able to operate without volunteers. From committee members to the chair of the board of directors (that is me!), we all are volunteers serving the community of Anatomical Sciences. Volunteering is a vital part of AAA community building. It brings together people committed to a shared goal of making AAA a better professional organization. Volunteers provide essential services within their committees to execute the strategic plan. Gathering volunteers from diverse backgrounds provides a rich pool of perspectives and ideas that allows the accomplishment of incredible things. These wide-ranging abilities lead to a great knowledge base, resulting in better quality decisions. Financially, it makes it sustainable to work with volunteers.


So why would you do unpaid work? There are many reasons people volunteer for AAA. These may include providing a sense of community and purpose; it may help you connect with colleagues you would not have known otherwise and meet new friends. It may also increase your social or professional skills and serve as the training ground for new leaders. It may bring fun, respect, and valorization to your work. Service contributes to well-being.


In our call for volunteers, you will see a wide range of opportunities, many of which may be appealing to you. To give everyone a chance to serve, we will ask you to choose the one you think is the best. But let me be frank: you may not get selected. I have heard this often: “I want to help. I asked to volunteer but was not chosen.” At AAA, we value your commitment, and your name will be included on our list for special ad-hoc volunteer opportunities, so your dedication won't go unnoticed.


Regardless of your academic rank, racial background, cultural identity, and fields of expertise, I want to encourage you to consider . In advance of that, I am grateful for your time and dedication.


Warm regards,

AAA President

Martine Dunnwald, PharmD, Ph.D., FAAA

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA


Check these links to learn more about or to


The Eternal Learner: AAA Award Winner Michael Hortsch about Staying Curious and Offering Pebbles of Wisdom

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of entrances, thresholds, and transitions. He’s dual-headed, with one head looking forward and the other behind, signifying beginnings and endings.


This year’s , said he felt a bit like Janus when he found out that he had won AAA’s highest education award. “He has two faces, one is looking forward to a future full of exciting possibilities, the other is looking backward and saying, ‘Hey, am I getting old?’ But ultimately, it’s about attaining wisdom, knowing what’s important and what’s less important,” Hortsch explained.


Hortsch, professor of Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan Medical School, was shocked to learn he had won the Distinguished Educator Award ahead of this year’s Anatomy Connected meeting.


“I always thought, maybe I will win it one day into the far future, but I’m not there yet,” he said. “I know some of the previous winners, I admire them and consider them my mentors. As this was the first time I was nominated, it was like, ‘Hey, did this really happen?’ I also know a lot of other excellent colleagues who are equally deserving and have done great educational work.”


The Children’s Book That Started It All

Hortsch grew up in West Germany and developed an early interest in science. “If I condense it into one word, it’s curiosity. I wanted to know how the world works,” he said. The trigger was a book about astronomy and the earth, which he received as a little boy and which he still has. “I’m always fascinated when hearing about different areas of science and want to learn more about them.”


In high school, Hortsch went to the other extreme and became fascinated by the smallest of structures – atoms and subatomic particles, but later settled on studying biochemistry at the Free University in West-Berlin. He then got his PhD in Biology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, before working in the laboratory of Dr. Corey Goodman at the University of California at Berkeley.


Subsequently, he took an assistant professor job at the University of Michigan. However, teaching histology was something he was unfamiliar with, despite being a cell biologist. “I entered my postdoctoral advisor’s office and expected comforting words when telling him about me having to teach histology at Michigan. But the dry answer was, ‘It will be good for you.’” He was so right.


Now, more than 30 years later, Hortsch still teaches histology at the University of Michigan. “When I started in 1991, half of my department was teaching histology to medical and dental students. Now it’s just me,” he said, while noting that histology has been at the forefront of new teaching paradigms and its role in the biomedical curriculum has changed over the last 50 years. “Even the “old” anatomical sciences, you can teach them in new ways and with new technologies,” he said.


‘Never Stop Learning’

The changes in teaching and technology led Hortsch and two of his AAA colleagues, Drs. Haviva M. Goldman and Lisa M.J. Lee, to create in 2017. The VMD is a central repository where a community of anatomy and histology scholars and researchers can share a large selection of virtual tissue slides for enhancing education, research, and scholarship.


In addition, Hortsch has authored a number of articles about histology education, many published in AAA’s Anatomical Sciences Education, most recently in the 2023 May/June issue. In case the reader can’t tell from the title, Hortsch uses Charles Dicken’s “The Christmas Carol” as a vehicle to share the history of histology. “Having a clever title is a great way to get students’ and readers’ attention,” Hortsch chuckled.


A natural storyteller, Hortsch also reached back into children’s literature for his award presentation at the AAA’s Anatomy Connected meeting in March. Hortsch donned lederhosen and renamed himself “Hänsel” of Hänsel & Gretel to offer “Pebbles of Wisdom -- Each a lesson in becoming an award-worthy educator.”


“For humanity, telling stories was one of the first ways of teaching. Therefore, a great educator should make sure to tell a good story, as that will motivate learners,” Hortsch says about his flare for storytelling.


One of his “pebbles of wisdom,” is that a great educator must also be a good learner, and Hortsch says he has learned a lot from his students and colleagues over the years, especially from his fellow AAA members.


“At AAA, I find a community of kindred spirits, people who have similar goals and their own special gifts from whom I can learn and who will hopefully learn from me. That is a real strength and the future of an association like AAA,” he said. “As I often tell non-member anatomy educators, AAA is a community of like-minded professionals who are eager to share their resources and experiences.”

Anatomy Training Program

“Participating in the program gave me the tools and knowledge to become confident in my anatomy and teaching skills. During the Summer Training Session, we not only tested our anatomy knowledge and dissection skills but created friendships with other passionate anatomists.” - Shannon Barwick, Ph.D.


When much of the world started traveling again in 2021 and 2022, several anatomy trainees were ready for a travel experience they had been waiting for since before 2020.


The Anatomical Society's , co-sponsored by AAA, is an intense vocational training program helping those who teach anatomy gain more exposure to human anatomy and clinical experience. Through the , up to a handful of AAA members get tuition, room and board, and other expenses for the one-week residential school in England.


This summer, those trainees finally had the opportunity to wrap up their first or second weeklong experience at the residential school. AAA would like to congratulate Jennifer Dennis, Ph.D., Kansas City University; Ryan Hillmer, Ph.D., Medical College of Wisconsin; Debora Kaliski, Ph.D., the University of Incarnate Word; Shanu Markland, Ph.D., A.T. Still University, and Allison Gremba, M.S., Seton Hill University, who have completed this program. Shannon Barwick, Ph.D., from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, has recently returned from her first trip and will complete the program in the Summer of 2024. Darlington Onyejike, Ph.D., Nnamdi Azikiwe University, is the most recently awarded trainee and will prepare to travel next summer to complete the first two courses in the program.


Under the guidance of a local mentor, trainees are navigated through a syllabus, online learning aids, and tutorials. At the residential school, they participate in modules on the head and neck, upper and lower limbs, trunk, and neuroanatomy.


To learn more about the and other , visit our website.

Anato-Bee is Buzzing with Growth: 51 Local Chapters and Counting!

The initiative, made possible through AAA funding, has been rapidly gaining momentum, and we are excited to share some updates with you. As of today, we have successfully established 51 local chapters across 28 states, and we're just getting started! We want to extend a huge thank you to those who have started a chapter and are beginning to contact high schools in your area.


Our mission is to make learning anatomy an enjoyable and interactive experience for students of all ages. We firmly believe in the power of community and collaboration to enhance the learning process. That's why we are actively looking for more enthusiasts and educators to join in on the fun and establish new local chapters in their regions.


Please fill out the and help us reach our goal of 100 chapters across the country in our inaugural year, especially in the Northern and Western regions of the U.S.


Mark Your Calendar:

Student Registration Opens September 1st, 2023 – High school student participant registration will begin for the Anato-Bee across all our local chapters on September 1st and stay open through early February 2024.

Free Tutoring Begins in October 2023 – We are thrilled to announce that we'll be offering free tutoring sessions to our registered students. Our team will be available to guide high school students in your area through complex anatomical concepts and answer questions – all they will need to do is complete their registration and hop on a device with internet connection. Tutoring will take place on the second and fourth Sunday of each month (some exceptions, calendar to be posted), providing two hours of assistance with anatomy, embryology, and histology. More information will be provided on the Anato-Bee website.

Local Competitions: February 24th, 2024

• Regional Competitions: April 6-7th, 2024


The Anato-Bee Team

EdCounsel Summary of USED's Guidance on SFFA v. Harvard/UNC

On August 14, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a and in the SFFA v. Harvard/UNC cases [hereinafter “the Guidance”]. The Guidance summarizes the Court’s opinion, which “limited the ability of institutions of higher education to consider an applicant’s race in and of itself as a factor in deciding whether to admit the applicant” while recognizing that institutions can continue to “consider any quality or characteristic of a student that bears on the institution’s [admissions] decision, such as courage, motivation, or determination, even if the student’s application ties that characteristic to their lived experience with race….” Further, the Guidance emphasizes that institutions can take a range of other actions to advance equity and diversity aims that are not prohibited by the Supreme Court’s SFFA decision, including discussion of what can and cannot be done in four areas: (1) targeted outreach, recruitment, and pathways; (2) collection of demographic data; (3) evaluation of admissions policies; and (4) student yield and retention strategies and programs. The Guidance does not expressly address other areas, including financial aid and scholarships. Finally, the federal agencies have indicated they will provide additional guidance in the fall, including examples of programs to “build inclusive, diverse student bodies.”

Anatomy Career Center

The provides an easy way for job seekers to review and apply for available jobs and for employers or hiring agencies to in the anatomical sciences and related fields.

Welcome, New Members

Get to know our newest members and learn about their science on . Find them in the Directory.


Carson M. Black, Lincoln Memorial University

Judy Churchill, Drexel University College of Medicine

Sue Downie, University of Wollongong

Daniel Graf, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Li Ma, University of Southern California

Mary MacDougall, Tidewater Community College

Jennifer Roccisana, University of Pittsburgh

Gretchen Williams, Texas A & M University

American Association for Anatomy

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