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Anatomy Centre launch to enhance medical education in the region for years to come

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Published on 02 March 2022

Opening of the new Anatomy Centre
Opening of the new Anatomy Centre

The University of Sunderland’s new multi-million-pound Anatomy Centre which was officially opened today (March 2) by one of the country’s leading surgeons.

Professor Neil Mortensen, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, was joined by specially invited guests from across the region’s health, education, and business communities, to open the new facility on the University's City campus.

The Anatomy Centre further enhances the facilities at Sunderland’s School of Medicine, providing a great future for the teaching of anatomy, as well as offering vital training for other students within the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing. In addition, the Centre is expected to benefit many of the region’s current surgeons and surgical trainees.

The University has a strong track-record in healthcare education in areas such as pharmacy, nursing and paramedic sciences, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

This new high-end facility is seen as a real asset to the region, perfectly complementing the University’s other simulation suites including the Living Lab and Helen McArdle House.

Professor Mortensen said: “I am honoured and delighted to officially open the new Anatomy Centre, which will be of great benefit to surgeons and surgical trainees across the region. As anatomy is one of the key elements in a successful medical education, it’s vital that we have centres like this throughout the UK in order to train and support surgeons of the future.”

On the same day the Anatomy Centre is being officially opened, The Marie and Robert Bell Memorial Garden has also been unveiled.

Adjacent to the Anatomy Centre, and funded by the University's Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Sir David Bell KCB DL, and his wife, Lady - Louise - Bell, the memorial garden has been established to honour Sir David's parents. It has been designed as a place of peace and tranquility for students and staff working in the Anatomy Centre, as well as for the wider University community.

The garden is also in keeping with the University’s sustainability strategy, using recycled stone beneath the new flagged and paved areas. Where practical, paved sections and kerbs have been cleaned and reused within the new garden layout. Existing flag stones have also been repurposed.

Sir David commented: This is a proud day for the University as we open a wonderful new facility to enhance the education of medical students, and others studying health-related disciplines. It will also act, in time, as a centre for the training and in-service education of surgeons, with all the attendant benefits for patients locally, regionally and nationally.

“At a personal level, I am proud to remember my parents, Marie and Robert Bell, with the opening of a memorial garden in front of the Anatomy Centre. As they loved to spend time in their own garden over the years, I think they would have been pleased to know that future generations will enjoy this special place within the University of Sunderland.”

A key feature of the Anatomy Centre is its dedicated, state-of-the-art learning environment for staff and students, influencing the education of future generations of doctors, nurses and other key healthcare workers. It has been established with the help of generous funding from the Sir James Knott Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Debs Patten, Professor of Anatomy at the University, who has been instrumental in supporting the design brief for the new centre, said: “We have designed a facility which will benefit our students and healthcare professional in the region for many years to come.

“I feel immensely proud to be part of this project. Personally, this is the highlight of my career.

“The design for our building started out on a sheet of A4 paper. It does feel quite something to look back on that original sketch now we are here in our new building. The architects and the project team have interpreted our design brief perfectly; the careful thought behind the design is evident.”

The facility will permit learners to improve their depth perception, spatial orientation and visualisation of body structures below the skin.

Professor Patten explained: “The Anatomy Centre allows us to offer our students an all-inclusive experience of anatomy – we can incorporate the high-fidelity digital approaches we have developed so far with a hands-on experience using real anatomical specimens.

“Most anatomy centres will focus on one of these teaching approaches only. We have made significant investment in both approaches and for that reason, I believe we will offer our students the very best foundation in anatomy possible.”

Among those students to benefit include Becky Bramley, 20, who is in her third year of medical studies.

She said: “The new Anatomy Centre provides an amazing opportunity to be able to learn with an accurate, real-life perspective using cadavers, with high tech equipment and build on the foundations of my knowledge.”