NEWS | September 27, 2004

Memorial service to honor donors of bodies to medicine


A ceremony to recognize the individuals who have donated their bodies to support medical research and education at the UC Davis School of Medicine will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. at the medical school. The ceremony will take place outside Medical Sciences Building 1C, on East Health Sciences Drive, on the UC Davis campus.

Every year, UC Davis medical students conduct a memorial service to honor those who have donated their bodies to science and medicine. The ceremony provides second-year students with an opportunity to pay respects to the bodies from which they learned, and prepares first-year students for the lessons they are about to learn.

For the first time, mortuary funeral science students are helping to plan the ceremony to make the event a memorial service for the families of those who have donated their bodies. The ceremony will include a segment when each attendee will light a candle, followed by a moment of silence, and concluding with the planting of a tree in memory of those who have donated their bodies to medicine.

This year’s ceremony marks the first time that community members and family members of body donors have been invited, at the suggestion of the School of Medicine class of 2007.

Among those speaking at the ceremony are Michael Wilkes, vice dean of Medical Education; Rev. Ernie Lewis, past associate dean of Medical Student Affairs; Richard Tucker, professor of human anatomy; and Brandi Schmitt, curator of the Donated Body Program.

Medical students work with human cadavers in the first quarter of their first-year training at the School of Medicine in the gross anatomy course. Over several weeks, students dissect the human cadavers from the chest through the abdomen, pelvis, head and neck to the limbs to attain valuable experience and information about body structures that they cannot get by looking at a textbook or computerized graphics.

Cadavers also are used in research laboratories to better understand disease and by emergency medicine and other specialty physicians and residents, who practice new surgical techniques. Many regional colleges and universities also rely on UC Davis’ model program to fill the needs of their curricula.

The Donated Body Program at the UC Davis School of Medicine receives donations from the Northern California community. Established in 1968, the program has received more than 2,400 donations to date and has 4,500 living individuals registered as donors. A memorial site honoring donors, dedicated in 2000, includes a bench, plaque and trees. It is intended to provide family and friends of those who donated their bodies to medicine a place to visit to remember their loved ones.

For more information about the Donated Body Program, contact the program office at (530) 752-2100 or, or visit the Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy’s Web site at