The American Association of Anatomists approves guidelines for body donation programs

Bethesda, Maryland — The Board of Directors of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) has approved a set of guidelines to govern programs accepting the donation of bodies for education and biomedical research. The guidelines cover the minimum requirements that should be met by any Willed Body Program.

According to AAA Secretary-Treasurer Richard Drake, Director of Anatomy at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, “Establishing a basic minimum level of expectations for Willed Body Programs is important and gives organizations accepting donated bodies for educational and research purposes a measuring stick. If your program is not following these guidelines, it’s time to make the necessary changes.”

The Donation of Bodies for
Education & Biomedical Research
Guidelines Suggested by the American Association of Anatomists

Donation Policies

  • The donation of bodies must follow state and local laws. An institution may have additional requirements, but cannot have fewer requirements than state and local governments.
  • Donation forms must follow state and local regulations and requirements.
  • Donation literature should describe all possible uses of donated bodies.

Institutional Policies

  • Each institution must have an oversight committee to which the individual in charge of the Body Donation Program reports.
  • The Institutional Oversight Committee shall appoint an individual to be responsible for the daily operation of the Body Donation Program.
  • The Body Donation Program should be reviewed on a yearly basis by the Institutional Oversight Committee.

Program Policies

  • Body Donation Programs should clearly describe the use of cadavers as it relates to institutional and educational needs.
  • Records documenting the use of cadavers should be reviewed by the Institutional Oversight Committee on a regular basis.
  • The shipment of cadavers must follow all state and local requirements.
  • Facilities where cadavers are used must be appropriate and secured from entry by unauthorized personnel.
  • Disposal of cadaveric remains should be documented and must follow all state and local regulations and requirements.

Approved November 2009

AAA Board of Directors

The American Association of Anatomists (AAA), based in Bethesda, MD, was founded in 1888 for the “advancement of anatomical science.” Today, AAA is the professional home for biomedical researchers and educators focusing on anatomical form and function. In addition to being the primary educators of medical students in their first year of medical school, AAA members worldwide work in imaging, cell biology, genetics, molecular development, endocrinology, histology, neuroscience, forensics, microscopy, physical anthropology, and numerous other exciting and developing areas. AAA publishes three journals — The Anatomical Record, Anatomical Sciences Education and Developmental Dynamics — plus a quarterly newsletter. Among its other programs and services, the organization sponsors an Annual Meeting (part of Experimental Biology), runs an extensive awards program, and maintains a website (www.anatomy.org) that offers members and others a variety of tools to enhance their teaching, research, and overall professional development.

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