Information, Outreach, & Plastinate Reservations
Welcome to the Modern Human Anatomy Program's Plastination Library website. On this page, you can learn about the plastination process, what specimens we have in our collection, how to checkout items from our collection to use for educational purposes, and about outreach events that utilize our collection for education.
What is Plastination? | Plastination is a tissue preservation process in which the water and lipids are replaced by plastics, such as silicone, epoxy, or polyester. Plastination allows specimens to be preserved and utilized for education because they can be handled, touched, and maneuvered without needing special ventilation or safety equipment. There are no harmful chemicals and no dangerous residues left on the specimens. Of course, one of the magnificent aspects about plastination is that the specimens retain their anatomical authenticity. Thus, they are dry and relatively durable, and they retain the contours, size, texture and shape of the natural tissue.
Why Use Plastinated Specimens? | Historically, medical schools across the country and around the world have maintained collections of human brains and other organs for the education of medical and graduate students. These collections often contain specimens of normal anatomy, unique anomalies or disease cases. Traditionally, these collections have been maintained in jars or buckets of formalin or other fixation/preservation cocktails that are toxic, volatile, and carcinogenic. The use of such tissues/organs can be a powerful education tool to fascinate and engage students. However, they have several limitations:
Plastination is an excellent and safe alternative.
Does CU Anschutz Have Plastinated Specimens? | Yes! The Modern Human Anatomy Program, a Master's degree program within the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, has its own plastination library with numerous specimens dissected by our own graduate students. The dissected and fixed tissues are then sent to the University of Toledo for plastination.
Where do Your Specimens Come From? | These specimens are used for teaching anatomy and come from bodies donated to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus through the State Anatomical Board of Colorado. All bodies and tissues are accepted with gratitude and treated respectfully. Funding for plastination comes from many sources including: the MSMHA Program, the American Association of Anatomists (Outreach Grant), the Society for Neuroscience Chapter Grant, and the Maggie George Foundation.
We have the following specimens available in our plastination library. Each of these items may be checked-out for educational purposes to promote anatomy education.
All individuals or groups interested in using plastinated specimens should contact Alison Grice to make a reservation.
MHA Guidelines for Use of Plastinated Tissue
If you have questions about our plastination collection, please contact Alison Grice . You may visit our department on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Building 500, Suite N5200.
*Please note that unauthorized visits to our plastination library are prohibited out of respect to our anatomical donors. Specific groups may request access to our collection by contacting Alison Grice
As part of our committment to the anatomical sciences and to medical education, we utilize our collection of plastinated specimens for various outreach events in collaboration with students and communities across the Denver Metro Area. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please contact Alison Grice
A host of programs and activities aimed at education utilize our plastinate collection to advance educational objectives. Click through the options below to see some examples of how plastinates can be used in educational and outreach settings. MHA
graduate students are involved in all of these events, which showcases our program's dedication to outreach and community service.
Goal: Introduction for any high school student interested in exploring a career in medicine or psychology.
Participants: High school students
Role of Plastinates: An opportunity for high school students to learn about the brain and have a chance to interract with real and plastinated brain tissue.
Goal: Expose high school students to health professions careers and to healthy lifestyles.
Participants: High school students from across the entire state of Colorado
Role of Plastinates:
Goal: Expose high school students to neuroscience and the brain.
Participants: High school students from Denver Public Schools
Role of Plastinates: Students view real human brains alongside wet specimens in the lab.
Goal: Expose students to different career opportunities.
Participants: 8th graders from Aurora Public Schools
Role of Plastinates: Plastinates are showcased on the recruitment table to expose students to real organs they can hold and see and expose them to science and health careers.
Goal: A host of multiple programs on campus providing booths and program overviews to students.
Participants: High school students and undergraduate students
Role of Plastinates: We utilize plastinates to showcase our program and to allow potential students to visualize and interact with real human tissue.