Anatomy  Interviews

 
 

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dotWhat to Expect

Anatomy students draw on many different parts of science to explore the body structures of living things.

"I've always enjoyed teaching at the organismal, system, organ and tissue level," says Kurt Gilliland. He has a PhD in cell and biological development from the University of North Carolina. He also teaches in the field. "I enjoy research of cell structure, and I enjoy research that is at least indirectly related to a human disease. Anatomy programs typically tie all these interests together."

Gilliland says the program at UNC allows students to take the classic courses in anatomy: gross anatomy, histology, embryology and neurobiology.

"The fact that our department is within the medical school allows us to take and teach medical student courses," Gilliland says.

One advantage to the program at UNC is the variety, says Gilliland. "Research in our department is diverse, including those who use molecular biology to study normal cell function in animal models and those who use microscopy to study cell structure in diseased human tissues."

Thierry Horner also took graduate studies in cell and developmental biology at UNC. "Students in this program take two years of coursework with research rotations and the following three-plus years are devoted strictly to research, with some teaching experience," he says.

Students may choose to take gross anatomy, but many choose to focus instead on biochemistry, molecular or cellular biology coursework.

How to Prepare

Horner says that after the first year, most courses do not use textbooks. Instead, graduate students learn from reading mainly specialized magazines.

"High school students will be well prepared by taking biology courses," Horner says. During their undergraduate studies, majoring in biology would also prepare them, he adds.

"I'd recommend that, before getting wrapped up in counting bones and learning about muscle attachments, that a young student get a good base in cell and molecular biology with additional experience using a microscope," Gilliland says.

A good foundation for those areas of study can be built in high school biology, chemistry and physics classes.