PURPOSE.  Provide an understanding of:


  Define anatomy

  List some of the fields of the anatomical sciences and describe their focus of interest and their methods of analysis.

  Distinguish the fields of anatomy from other “basic biomedical science disciplines”

  Describe different kinds of sources for anatomical information and the ways they may be accessed.


Define anatomy.

Exercise: What is ANATOMY?

Consider the various meanings you associate with the term anatomy

Come up with sentences in which the term anatomy has different meanings. 

Write a definition in your own words for each of the meanings and create a document that you can save and share. 


Problem to think about: Consensus-building tools

Think about what kind of an on-line mechanism would allow you to share the definitions you write with members of your class and your instructors. How could this mechanism support dialogue and result in consensus about definitions? Could you conceive building such a tool? It would have many uses within the context of this class as well as other activities.



The resources contain answers to several of the questions in the above exercise, but we urge you to complete exercise before consulting the resources. The purpose is for you to formulate your own ideas and then modify and enhance them as you progress through the pre-class tutorial and the in-class interactions. This approach establishes a cognitive model of your own making and you can actively modify and enhance this model as you acquire new information.


Standard dictionaries: Oxford English Dictionary, Webster's

Medical dictionaries: Stedmans

Rosse and Gaddum-Rosse: Textbook of Anatomy (RGR): Chapter 1

Rosse et al. 1998: Motivation and organizational principles for anatomical knowledge representation: the Digital Anatomist symbolic knowledge base. JAMIA 5:17-40.

Consult only first part of paper mainly for definitions; no need to read whole paper as yet.


Recapitulation (after consulting the above resources):

Revise and amend your definitions of anatomy but do not erase your intial versions. Please make sure you can access this document in class either on-line, on a disk or at the least in hard copy.

Make a list of questions and topics you want to discuss in class.


List some of the fields of the anatomical sciences. 

Exercise: What are the branches of the science of anatomy?

Read these three paragraphs  from RGR.

In each paragraph, note the words you consider to be anatomical terms. 

To what kind of general topics of interest do these paragraphs pertain? In addition to gross anatomy (concerned with the dissection of the cadaver), can you identify other topics that are also embraced by anatomy?


RGR Chapter 1.

Demonstration in class.



Generate a list of all the subdivisions of anatomical science you can think of.

Structure this list as an ‘ontology’ of anatomy (science)

If you do not know what an ontology is, attempt to look it up, but do not spend much time on this; we will discuss this in class.

Make a list of questions and topics you want to discuss in class.


Distinguish the fields of anatomy from other “basic biomedical science disciplines”.

Exercise: What are the basic biomedical science disciplines?

Think about the distinctions between clinical and basic science fields of specialties. 

What is the main purpose or aim of clinical sciences and basic sciences?

Generate a list of all the specialties you can think of in biomedicine and categorize them according to whether you regard them as basic or clinical (in other words, generate an ontology of biomedical sciences, which distinguishes basic and clinical disciplines).

Have some idea of the primary topics of interest in each discipline you list.

Consider the relationship of each specialty (or discipline) in your list to anatomy. To what extent are they based on anatomy?



Your own experience, common sense knowledge.

What would be a readily available source on which you could base this list?



Compare your list to the ontology of biomedical sciences we will generate in class.

Make a list of questions and topics you want to discuss in class.


Describe different kinds of sources for anatomical information and the ways they may be accessed.

Exercise: Where can you find information about the anterior cruciate ligament

Using this example, consider what sources you would turn to in order to find out what you might want to know about this anatomical structure by playing several roles: 1. yourself; 2. novice medical student; 3. orthopedic surgeon; 3. bioengineer researcher.

Consider what sources of anatomical information exist in traditional hard-copy formats and in formats accessible by information technology.




Revise your ideas about sources of anatomical information based on the discussion in class.

Check out the anterior cruciate ligament in a source that you have not considered.

Compare the information pertaining to this structure between two or three sources in terms of quantity and quality. The purpose of this exercise is to have you gain an impression of the different levels of knowledge represented in the different sources.