By Shayla Gasca
There’s a dead body on campus.
But it’s nothing to worry about. Las Positas College’s science department has had a cadaver lab for two and a half years.
The Cadaver Lab, located in room 1857, is a workshop where advanced anatomy students experience real autopsies on dead bodies.
The bodies are donated by the UCSF Willed Body Program. They’re embalmed and sent to schools. At LPC, the cadaver lab gives students, who are part of the course, experience and helps them learn the human body better. Schools return the to corpse to UCSF.
The Willed Body Program uses the donated bodies they receive to produce cadavers, which the program gives to school with cadaver labs.
“The Cadaver Lab requires a little bit more serious- ness and maturity to deal with an actual body than to deal with a model.”
Students in the General Human Anatomy class learn the human body through the class’ models.
“Working in the Cadaver Lab is really beneficial, and I learned a lot as far as learning on the models, which is a lot different,” LPC student Savannah Winters lead dissector said, “(Models are) bright- ly colored and labeled. And in the lab, it’s more of an adventure.”
Students in the Cadaver Lab have reference material online and in their book. While dissecting the cadaver the students practice with their group.
“(Cadaver Lab) is driven by the students,” biological sciences fac- ulty Ann Hight said. “I only oversee if they need guidance.”
The lab meets once a week for two hours, and it has two differ- ent groups.
Each group has four advanced anatomy students, with one lead dissector training the advanced students.
In order to become a lead dissector, a student from the previous semester team volunteers or Hight asks one of the previous stu- dents to become a lead dissector.
Hight said that students who have gotten a B or higher in General Human Anatomy can apply to become one of the student dissectors. She said that spots are limited.
Before students can apply to be a dissector in the Cadaver Lab, they learn how to dissect a cat in their General Human Anatomy class.
During the dissection – also called a prosection – of the cat’s body, they also discover the relationship the cat’s body has with a human body. Having a dead body on campus may be odd, but it’s no laughing matter.
“The Cadaver Lab requires a little bit more seriousness and maturity to deal with an actual body than to deal with a model,” LPC advanced anatomy student Ben Tanaka said.
Teams dissect different portions of the body and have enough time to examine the body in detail.
“Everybody takes their own time, and we are learning from the same experience,” Winters said.
Hight said that the students’ work on the corpse is just like a work of a professional anatomist.
“The prosections in (the Cadaver Lab) are extraordinarily well done,” Hight said. “It doesn’t look like a student produced those prosections.”
The UCSF gave LPC its first cadaver earlier this year.
“We don’t know any information about (the cadavers) except the cause of death,” she said.
Students must wear double gloves, lab coats, have their hair up and wear goggles closed-toe shoes and long pants before touching the body.
“Any time they touch the body, we consider that to be biohazard,” Science Education Technician Gerry Gire said.