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Moments in Surgical History |

Selected Anatomists:  At the Boundary of Contemporary Ethics

Dillon Arango, BA; Patrick Greiffenstein, MD; James Patrick O’Leary, MD
JAMA Surg. 2013;148(1):94-98. doi:10.1001/jamasurgery.2013.407.
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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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Figure 1. Young Andreas Vesalius (Yale University, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library).

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Figure 2. Ferdinand Hochstetter (center) and Eduard Pernkopf (third on the right from center) (Archive of Images, Department and Collections for History of Medicine, MedUni Vienna).

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