The Department of Anatomy & Human Sciences at King’s is part of the School of Biomedical Sciences, based at Guy’s Campus.
Our expertise is particularly strong in the anatomical sciences, developmental biology, neuroscience and cell biology. Both our teaching and our research aim to answer questions about how our bodies are built: what is its structure, how does this relate to its function, how was this structure assembled in the embryo?
We examine these issues at all levels, from the macroscopic organisation of tissues (such as the anatomy of the heart or the neuroanatomy of the brain) through to the organisation of individual cells and their sub-cellular components (such as the specialised signals and cytoskeletal proteins that allow cells to move around in the developing embryo).
Members of our Department teach students from a wide range of degree programmes including Human Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Dentistry and Physiotherapy. We deliver courses in Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Histology, Neuroscience and, of course, Human Anatomy and Neuroanatomy. All of our teaching is informed by current biomedical research. It is designed to help students to understand both the fundamental aspects of the subject as to well as evaluate the experimental evidence for our current knowledge and to recognise important areas for future research.
In addition to our Department’s nonclinical staff, we have a team of experienced clinical anatomists and surgical demonstrators who largely teach in the human anatomy practical classes, and who reinforce their teaching with a variety of up-to-date clinical knowledge and anecdotes.
Anatomy and dissection
We believe that there is no substitute for the ‘hands on’ experience of three-dimensional human anatomy. Many students say that dissection is the best feature of our teaching programmes, and it will remain important for students to explore real bodies, but this approach will increasingly be augmented by sophisticated computer imaging. The Department has two well-equipped dissecting rooms, and a large collection of dissected organs, including brains and spinal cords, as well as explanatory models.
The anatomical material available for students to study is complemented by a large collection of pathological organs and exquisite models in the Gordon Museum at Guy’s Campus.
Innovations in anatomy
Although anatomy is an ancient and classic medical discipline it is not standing still. The traditional methods of teaching anatomy are being invigorated by the introduction of computer reconstructions of the body’s architecture. The imaging techniques designed for diagnosis in the clinic – for example ultrasound, CT, MRI and PET – generate virtual bodies whose internal structure can be analysed prior to surgical intervention. These data will increasingly become valuable teaching aids, allowing virtual dissections, with each organ of the body being viewed either in isolation or in relation to its normal neighbouring tissues. The introduction of medical imaging methods to the classroom will complement the dissection of human cadavers and the examination of prosected (ie prepared) body parts in our teaching.
Most of the Department’s staff are also members of research divisions within King’s Health Schools. Staff research interests include the development of the brain and other organs; repair mechanisms of the brain; the mechanisms of cell migration; pain; human brain function; how the brain controls reproduction and muscle cell biology. Each of these special interests is integrated into the teaching to ensure the students get a feel for the excitement of research and an understanding of some of the questions currently being addressed.