Anatomical Gift Program

Department of Cell Biology

From the Greek period to the present day, it has been evident that knowledge of the human body, obtained through dissection, is indispensable to the education of future physicians.  

clip_image002.jpgThe Anatomical Gift Program maintains and distributes body donations to support the broad spectrum of educational and clinical research missions of UMMS.  This program supports these activities in various departments, including the education of undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students by preparing bodies, organs, tissues and cells for these purposes.

Walk through nearly any college campus and you’ll find ample evidence of the generosity of philanthropists. Dormitories, libraries and science centers bear the names of donors who give millions to build them and further the education of the next generation. Alumni often support their alma mater as a way to give thanks for their own education and the foundation it provided for their careers and successes in life, and to allow the next generation those same opportunities.

One special type of gift, however, builds an educational foundation different from all others, and can be given regardless of a donor’s financial status: the gift of one’s body for medical education, through which tomorrow’s doctors learn the structure of the human body and all its systems. To become a doctor and care for the human body, medical students must learn the intricacies of the human body and all its nuances.

Since 1970 the University of Massachusetts Medical School has managed the Anatomical Gift Program (AGP) through which donors can bequeath their bodies to be used in medical education. Upon request a program representative will present an overview of the program as well as information for area residents interested in learning about participating.

Founded by the late
Sandy C. Marks, Jr., PhD, professor of anatomy, the  UMMS AGP provides whole bodies and tissue samples for the instruction of first-year medical students. Since its inception, the AGP has registered more than 6,000 potential donors and has accepted more than 2,200 whole body donations; currently, the AGP receives approximately 100 whole body donations per year. The program is regulated under the U.S. Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. It is one of four in the state and works cooperatively with those at Harvard Medical School, Boston University Medical School and Tufts University Medical School. The program receives enough donations each year for studies by students at UMMS and can often help the other three medical schools provide for their students. All bodies are returned to UMMS for cremation, and families are invited to an annual memorial service, organized and hosted by the medical students.

Donation is an option for anyone over age 18, and of any background.