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Brighton & Sussex Medical School


BSMS > About BSMS > Anatomy-lab


The Anatomy Department at BSMS is a thriving team who have three things at their heart. 

1. Enabling high quality care for our donors. 

2. Providing an excellent learning opportunity to those who use the facility.

3. Working as a team supporting each other in everything related to anatomical education. 

The team delivers excellent teaching to around 3,000 individuals a year, this is either through the BSMS HTA Anatomical Examination licence or through the BSMS HTA Public Display licence. The team care for around 60 donors a year and look after a collection of museum pots, prosections and skeletal material that comprises of thousands of specimens. The team are actively engaged in a range of research activities both about the human body and about how we learn anatomy.  

Prof Claire Smith discusses a model of a skull with students in anatomy lab


Vision and strategy


  • Striving to be the leader in Anatomical Education and Research.


  • We will maintain Anatomy as a unique selling point for the Universities and for Brighton and Sussex Medical School. 
  • We will provide all students with high-quality inspirational teaching that is research-led.
  • We will maximise the effective use of anatomical dissection of human cadavers to enhance the learning experience alongside teaching that embraces innovative methods. 
  • We will develop and expand the provisions for teaching.
  • We will grow our portfolio of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
  • We will nurture graduates with a passion for lifelong anatomy learning.
  • We will provide a high-quality resource for clinicians to further develop practice.
Students in the anatomy lab



Anatomy teaching is an integral part of the undergraduate medical course and is widely recognised internally and externally as one of the strongest features of the Medicine programme. Anatomy at BSMS is designed to be an exciting and varied theme within the course and there is a strong focus on multidisciplinary teaching with all aspects of anatomical teaching and learning reinforced by clinical input, delivered both by BSMS Anatomy faculty and members of NHS surgical teams. Our anatomy demonstrators are qualified doctors currently working towards training in surgery or radiology.

Anatomy features in the foundation module that all students take in the first term at BSMS as well as all the remaining systems-based modules in years one and two (Phase 1). In addition, students return to the Anatomy Laboratory in year 4 when they are studying specific rotations such as ENT and ophthalmology.

All anatomy is taught in a building block approach so that students are aware of the basics of various concepts before adding detail and is delivered in various formats, with a focus though on cadaveric dissection in year 1 and expertly prepared prosections in year 2 in the anatomy facility. Living anatomy is a very important part of the course, with students learning the basis of clinical examination from the knowledge they gain of important surface landmarks. We link anatomy with modern imaging techniques, with students utilising portable ultrasound machines to understand how anatomical structures can be viewed clinically.

At all times anatomy teaching is made as functionally and clinically relevant as possible to engage the students in their learning and to show them the importance of anatomy in their medical training. At BSMS, we believe that anatomy learning is not just limited to formal teaching sessions. We offer a range of technology enhanced learning opportunities, including access to 3D printed material, in-house produced Vodcasts, and access to leading commercial software.

Lawrence-Watt Prize in Anatomy 

The prize (£200) is awarded annually to the Year 2 student, on the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery programme at BSMS, securing the highest marks in anatomy questions.

Past winners

2022 – 2023: Robert Pritchard & Katya Fisker-Van Veen
2021 – 2022: Muhammed Ratter & Ismail Elhadidy
2020 – 2021: Joe Parratt
2019 – 2020: Rya Pritchard
2018 – 2019: Joseph Langworthy
2017 – 2018: Pashmina Bhutto
2016 – 2017: Mohamed Bedir


Anatomy features in a number of postgraduate courses, including Physician Associate Studies, Medical Neuroscience, Biomedical Science, Dementia Studies, Cardiology and Radiology. Many leading consultant surgeons, radiologists and anaesthetists from the trust hospitals also utilise our facilities for surgical courses and research projects related to anatomical examination to confirm, or even refute, dogma in surgical practice.

Surgical training

The Anatomy Department is involved in a number of surgical training courses and is a partner with the Royal College of Surgeons and is contracted to run ~10 courses a year for ~400 surgeons. These include the flagship courses like Definitive Surgical Trauma Skills (DSTS) and attract surgeons from around the globe. These courses currently use fresh frozen full body donors.  In addition to the Royal College of Surgeons the department works with a number of surgical companies and deliver training for providers such as Stryker, and Medacta, as well as providing local surgical training to our community e.g. Air Ambulance Paramedics.


Research is an important aspect of the medical school and a great deal of resources have been invested into making the school a research active environment in which to work. The research themes are broadly focussed within the four major divisions: Primary Care and Public Health Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Medical Education and Neuroscience. All faculty members including those in anatomy have research programmes. Past projects have resulted in conference presentations, primary research papers or preliminary data for research grant applications. If you are interested in applying, please contact the Anatomy team ( 

Research activity of anatomy faculty

Prof Smith runs her own independent research programmes, focusing on the pedagogical aspects of anatomy, especially spatial ability and body donation. 

Visit Prof Smith's elements profile >

Dr Hennessy’s research focuses on the use of social medial in medical education and how medical students develop social media professionalism, which has led to further scholarship into social media use within anatomy education.

Visit Dr Hennessy's elements profile >

Danya Stone’s research focuses on students experiences of learning in the anatomy laboratory. 

Visit Danya Stone's elements profile >

Dominic O’Brien’s research focuses on the integration of different technologies and resources in teaching.

Visit Dominic O'Brien's elements profile >


Anatomy laboratory

The Anatomy Laboratory at BSMS is located in the Medical Teaching Building on the University of Sussex Campus and was opened in 2003. In 2018, the facility was expanded and updated (~£750,000) to include a student changing room area, three Dissecting Rooms (DR), a prosection/preparation area, an office and staff changing area with toilets and shower and state of the art Digital Learning and IT systems. In addition to this we acquired a new anatomy seminar room in 2021. The seminar room is a dedicated space for dry laboratory teaching and may be used for living anatomy and ultrasound teaching, non-human based surgical simulation, as well as lecture and seminar-based teaching.

The Dissecting Rooms house a collection of over a thousand museum pots and human bones that are all used for teaching. These demonstrate both ‘normal' and pathological anatomy and range in age to recently acquired specimens to those that are over 100 years old.   

The Anatomy Laboratory is licensed under The Human Tissue Act 2004, regulated by the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). It holds both a HTA Anatomy Licence and a Public Display Licence, so that quality teaching and training sessions can be held for students and professionals alike. The licence holder is the Registrar of the University of Sussex and the day-to-day responsibilities for the licence reside with the 'Designated Individual' (Prof Claire Smith).

Virtual tour

Explore our anatomy laboratory and take our virtual tour. 

Take our virtual tour here >

Hire our facility

The Anatomy Laboratory and seminar room can accommodate a total of 160 and 30 learners respectively although this may vary depending on external equipment e.g. x- ray C arms.

We can provide a range of specimens for courses including cadaveric full body and prosections. We use a range of techniques, including fresh frozen, soft fix and traditional fix, to suit your needs. Our dissection rooms are also set up with the latest large screens and video streaming and operating theatre lights to aid learning.

With our full time, dedicated staff, we can help to individually tailor your course to your leaning outcomes and can lead or support sessions and teaching. Additionally, we have a team of anatomy demonstrators who can offer their assistance if required.

All use of the facilities is subject to a charge. Full draft costings are always provided prior to hire agreement. If you are interested in using our facilities to explore new surgical techniques or to improve student learning, then please contact the Anatomy team and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Enquire here >


"First time for me at Brighton and it was excellent. Good cadavers. Good support from technicians who were really hands on as well." 

"Dear Anatomy Team at BSMS,

Hope you are well and do not mind me reaching out.

Thank you enormously for being such a pleasant department on the day of the orbital course! As a junior colleague, I was so impressed with the facilities and resources that were available on the course. Thank you!" 

Anatomy demonstrators

We are inviting applications for the dual position of Anatomy Demonstrator and Resident Medical Officer (RMO) from enthusiastic individuals who are keen to play an important role in our students’ development through guidance, support, and delivery of high-quality anatomical teaching and who want to get involved in research.

The Anatomy Demonstrator position at BSMS is linked to an RMO job at the local Montefiore or Nuffield Health Hospitals, Brighton. This role allows you to get involved in anatomy teaching and research whilst maintaining your clinical skills. This is a fantastic opportunity for individuals who wish to develop their anatomical knowledge as a basis for further career development. Typically, our current and previous Anatomy Demonstrators are those who are interested in surgery, radiology, and medical education but anybody is welcome to apply. Further information about this role can be found in the following FAQs and Job Description/Person Specification documents. 


Download job description and person specification >

The role offers ample opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills, and boost your CV. For informal enquiries, please contact Danya Stone, Lecturer in Anatomy (

We value the diversity of our staff and students, and we welcome applicants from all backgrounds. We have a number of vacancies. To apply for this position, please send a CV and a covering letter (highlighting how you meet the criteria in the person specification) to

Visa Sponsorship Queries: We will accept applications from international candidates. This role may be eligible for sponsorship. For further information, please consult the UKVI information page.

Anatomy teaching assistants

In additional to the anatomy demonstrators the Anatomy Admin Assistant manages a list of other individuals who may take part in demonstrating on an occasional and voluntary basis. These Anatomy Teaching Assistants may be F2, CTs on a rotation, volunteering or MSc, or PhD students in a related anatomy or medical education area. If you are interested in demonstrating and want to be added on to our list, please contact the Anatomy team ( 

Visiting fellowship

The anatomy department can offer supervision for Visiting Fellowships in Anatomy. The aims of the fellowship are to share knowledge and experience, foster opportunities and develop future partnerships for collaborative teaching and research. Visiting fellows can engage in a number of activities including embalming, cadaveric dissections, creating cadaveric images for teaching, writing anatomy assessments, innovative teaching technologies and research. In addition to this, visiting fellows can participate in any courses that are running in the Anatomy laboratory during the visit. Fellowships are normally offered for up to four weeks and are self-funded. To apply, please contact the Anatomy team (

Anatomy student representative

The Anatomy student rep works closely with the Student Anatomy Society (SAS), the student led Association of Medical Education and Clinical Skills Society (AMECS) and the wider student group to help organise anatomy-based activities. These include a range of events such as near peer teaching sessions in the anatomy laboratory DR which are closely overseen and supervised by a member of the Anatomy Faculty. 

Enya Costin is the Anatomy Representative for the current academic year (2023 – 2024). If you would like to get involved in anatomy-based activities, contact Enya (

Previous reps

2022 – 2023: Evie O'Rourke
2021 – 2022: Jimena Abeledo Vilarino


Body donation

We are very grateful to those who are generous enough to donate their bodies for science and medical education. Brighton and Sussex Medical School arrange this through the London Anatomy Office.

Donating your body to science is an overarching term, more precisely it is donation for anatomical examination.

Medical schools still need the generosity of individuals to gift their bodies to them. Despite all the advances in technology, donated human bodies are essential in the teaching of future generations of doctors and allied healthcare students. These students need to learn the intricacies of the human body and the skills, and attitudes that are associated with patient treatment. Medical students systematically work through donors to learn about the human body in health and disease. Qualified specialists such as surgeons frequently visit the anatomy department to help them prepare for complex surgical cases. They use donated human bodies to practice and develop new surgeries and treatments for conditions. 

The anatomy department is regulated by the Human Tissue Authority and regularly inspected. Respect is at the heart of everything we do. We understand that donating your body to science is a large step and we encourage you to discuss it with family and friends. To donate your body please contact the London Anatomy Office on the details below and they will be happy to advise and to send you all you need. 

You may wish to learn more about body donation and understand some examples of what medical schools can and can’t do with your body. You might also like to learn more about what happens to your body when the medical school have finished their teaching and research. There are several sources for you to look at.

Visit the London Anatomy Office website >

see the Human Tissue Authority 's advice on body donation here >


Professor Claire Smith has written a book called The Silent Teacher the Gift of Body Donation, which is available from all good bookshops and online retailers.

If you are considering donating and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

T: +44 (0)1273 877810


Guidance for institutions and anatomists

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced medical educators to adapt the delivery of teaching sessions to online platforms. This has raised some challenges for medical educators in the UK, where the distribution of cadaveric images is widely considered to breach the dignity of the donor. Anatomists do, however, frequently share images of sensitive, cadaveric material (including plastinated and potted specimens) with healthcare professions students when delivering face-to-face teaching sessions. Concerns are thus mounting as to how to ensure online cadaveric anatomy teaching is as safe and secure as possible and causes no detriment to the donor, the donor’s family, the wider profession, and the licensed educational institution providing anatomical instruction.

We have produced a guide for institutions and anatomists when utilising cadaveric material for online teaching sessions. The guidance document is available to download below.