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Moments in Surgical History
January 2013

Selected Anatomists: At the Boundary of Contemporary Ethics

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami (Mr Arango and Dr O’Leary); and Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans (Dr Greiffenstein).

JAMA Surg. 2013;148(1):94-98. doi:10.1001/jamasurgery.2013.407

Fascination with the interworkings of the human body has permeated scientific discovery for eons. Materials for dissection proved problematic for anatomists. Andreas Vesalius solved his dilemma by visiting local gallows where criminals had been executed. Eduard Pernkopf has been alleged to have taken some of his materials from victims of the Holocaust. Even today, executed criminals have served as subjects for anatomical educational purposes. These circumstances are explored and the contemporary ethics of each are compared.

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