Cadaver lab provides Ashtabula students unique experiences

Nick Glunt

Students at Kent State University’s Ashtabula campus are able to experience more hands-on anatomy and physiology during lessons thanks to a new cadaver lab—the only one between Cleveland and Erie, Pa.—that has been open since January.

“It gives (students) an opportunity they don’t have other places, to learn using a more real experience,” said Ashtabula Dean Susan Stocker.

Stocker explained that when the new Robert S. Morrison Health and Science Building was conceived, they decided to add the cadaver lab as part of the new health and development programs.

Payman Nasr, assistant professor of biological sciences at Kent State Ashtabula, said the cadavers “facilitate the best possible learning experience.”

“The best way to learn is to use real bodies,” Nasr said.

He said students in his classes are not required to touch the cadavers, but they are encouraged to do so. However, Nasr said if a student feels uncomfortable with the cadavers then he or she is probably in the wrong profession.

He said that when he came to Kent State Ashtabula about six years ago, anatomy and physiology teaching resources were “limited to the 1960s and 70s,” meaning he had to use just chalk and blackboards.

Since then, Nasr adopted digital human cadaver dissections and organism dissection as lessons. He said that cadavers are one more step closer to the “real thing,” meaning living people.

“It’s a shared learning experience,” said Nasr, who has a doctorate in anatomy and neurobiology. “I’m even learning here.”

Though the lab can hold a maximum of 18 people, he said cameras are installed that let students in two rooms across the hall to view demonstrations.

Nasr said he hopes the program will eventually open up to allow more science students to use the lab.

Gary Misich, academic laboratory manager at Kent State Ashtabula, said the lab holds two cadavers for use. They were procured from a Wright State University body donation service.

Stocker and Misich said they make it a point to respect the cadavers. After about two years of use, the cadavers are returned to Wright State with all their tissues, Misich said. They are then cremated and returned to their families.

Misich mentioned the university plans to conduct some sort of memorial to recognize the families of those who have donated their bodies to science once they are returned. They appreciate the donations, he said, because there is such a big difference between using plastic models and human cadavers.

“(The lab) offers a unique opportunity for students to take a look at anatomy,” he said. “It’s an experience they can’t get from any other place in the area.”

Contact administration reporter Nick Glunt at [email protected].