Auburn’s Veterinary Medicine Anatomy Laboratory undergoes $1 million renovation

Published: September 17, 2014
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AUBURN UNIVERSITY -- The College of Veterinary Medicine's Anatomy Laboratory has undergone a $1 million renovation and recently opened for first-year students to begin their veterinary education.

The major renovation focused on improving the ventilation system within the laboratory, which had not undergone a significant upgrade in more than a decade.

"The goal was to create the safest dissection laboratory possible for first-year veterinary students as well as all other users and upgrade the technology within the laboratory for a thorough educational experience," said Dr. Edward Morrison, head of the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology. "We now have a state-of-the-art anatomy teaching lab."

The renovations included an update to the HVAC system; a sophisticated downdraft table system with more than 40 specially-designed and individually-ventilated dissection tables; an updated digital audio visual system including touch-screen monitors, speaker system, wall mounted computer system and wireless video system; a new ceiling and lighting; and a renovated anatomical preparation area to increase storage space within the lab.

"A project this large would not have been possible without the support and efforts of many people," Dr. Morrison said, adding that the college's administration was important in both giving support and ensuring a short timeline for the renovation of the laboratory, which is critically important in the academic mission of the college.

All veterinary students begin their education in anatomy laboratory, and anatomy is seen as a rite-of-passage into veterinary medicine.

"Anatomy is pivotally important for a veterinary student's future success," said Dr. Elaine Coleman, an associate professor of anatomy. "A veterinary students' education begins in the anatomy lab."

Dr. Coleman, along with colleagues Dr. Ray Wilhite and laboratory manager Derrick Calloway spearheaded the project. Dr. Coleman, and other faculty and staff, spent hours researching the best ways to improve the laboratory ventilation system and was instrumental in the selection and procurement of the downdraft tables.

"The downdraft tables were particularly important as they limit the exposure of formaldehyde students will have while performing dissections," Dr. Coleman said. "The new HVAC system quietly pushes the air down, and the specially-designed downdraft tables pull air and fumes into each table's ventilation system and out into air ducts connected to each table."

The updated digital audio visual system allows faculty who teach in the laboratory to use the most up-to-date technology. A wireless camera is being used to film dissections as it happens at one table and show it on television monitors around the laboratory in live feed, allowing all students the ability to see what is being taught in real time. There are also touch-screen computers around the laboratory to allow students to replay video on specific topics, and show pathology or other information needed in teaching.

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