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What Is Anatomy?

Anatomy is the study of the structure of living things – animal, human, plant – from microscopic cells and molecules to whole organisms as large as whales.

Anatomy Is Everywhere

  • Anthropologists study cultures around the world.
  • Paleontologists use cutting-edge technology to discover the ancient world.
  • Archeologists uncover our history one artifact at a time.
  • Veterinarians help humans care for pets and farm animals.
  • Zoologists ensure captive animals – from backyard critters to endangered species – receive optimal care.
  • Medical students learn anatomy before becoming nurses, doctors, and dentists.
  • Inventors create exoskeletons to give people mobility.
  • Biomedical engineers create better pacemakers and prosthetics.
  • Physical therapists find remedies for their patients’ challenges.

Who Are Anatomists?

An anatomist broadly describes someone who studies, researches, or teaches in the anatomical sciences, including the study of extinct species, such as dinosaurs and Neanderthals. They help us understand how things are formed and constructed, which has enormous impact. However, not everyone who studies, applies, or researches anatomy calls themselves ‘anatomists.’

What Anatomists Do

Anatomists work with students and researchers to better understand humans and animals, in order to teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, and veterinarians. Their research into cell and molecular anatomy means that conditions such as cleft palate, congenital heart defects, neurological disorders, and cancer biology are better understood – and can be treated.

Where Anatomists Work

Anatomists work in universities, research institutions, and private industry. They teach anatomy in medical, dental, and veterinary schools, as well as at large undergraduate universities. They run their own research labs at organizations and universities, and they work together in teams of scientists, postdoctoral researchers, and students to uncover discoveries that lead to better understanding of our biology.

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Opportunities Abound

AAA is the professional home for more than 2,000 students, teachers, and practitioners of the anatomical sciences.

Are you interested in a career in anatomy? Opportunities for students and early-career members include:

  • information about graduate programs
  • student and postdoc awards
  • leadership positions
  • regional meetings
  • mentoring
  • education research scholarships
  • visiting scholarships

Are you seeking advancement within an established career? AAA promotes cutting-edge research, supports a diverse and inclusive membership, and advocates on behalf of biomedical science research.

No matter your career stage, join AAA to tap into anatomy’s most collaborative, supportive, and relevant network of professionals!