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History

This organization was founded as the Association of American Anatomists (AAA) on September 17, 1888, in Washington, D.C., for the “advancement of anatomical science.”

The founder was Joseph Leidy, M.D., who was a professor of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania from 1853 until his death in 1891. He served as the Association’s first president, 1888-1889. According to the Academy of Natural Sciences, Dr. Leidy was “the preeminent anatomist of his time.” He was also a paleontologist, parasitologist, and geologist.

Then years later, in 1908, the organization changed its name to the American Association of Anatomists – a name that stuck until 2019, when members voted to change the name to the American Association for Anatomy. At the time, then-President Phil Brauer, Ph.D, Chair of Anatomy at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, said:

“AAA supports and promotes all aspects of anatomical sciences in education and scientific research. It’s important that our identity reflect that. Our goal is to prepare the association for a strong, vibrant, and inclusive future. The new name helps us to emphasize the discipline rather than the profession and encourages scientists, educators, students, and the public to recognize anatomy as a foundational science.”

Today, via research, education, and professional development activities, AAA serves as the professional home for an international community of biomedical researchers and educators focusing on the structural foundation of health and disease.

AAA’s storied 131-year history was profiled in Associations Now, a publication of ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, in October 2019. Read more in “Built to Last: How Associations Have Made It Past the Center Mark.”