He directs an anatomy program

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David Lee is the director of the Anatomy Bequest Program at the University of Minnesota.

We are featuring David Lee as part of the Science Museum of Minnesota's exhibition of BODY WORLDS
I would hope that individuals who come to BODY WORLDS have a new appreciation of the human body. The intricacies of how we're made are amazing to me, and I marvel at them constantly.

He's the point of contact between the Medical School, which always needs bodies for the teaching of human anatomy, and families or individuals interested in donating. On a typical day, he talks with people about donation, answers questions for families after a death has occurred, helps people with issues related to death or dying, answers questions about death certificates, and works with anatomy teachers and students.

Donation is all about respect

Lee says, "[At the University of Minnesota,] we require informed consent—individuals need to understand what they're donating to and donating for. Donors can make statements or restrictions about the use of their bodies after their deaths. And families must consent, as well. We believe that every person is different, so we help families honor the life of the deceased, say goodbye, and then entrust the care of the person's body to the medical school for teaching."

"People who donate are generous and altruistic. They often want to give back some of what they've been given during their lives. Many of them have had medical problems; treatment gave them a second chance at life, or a longer and better life, and they see an opportunity to better health care in the future."

Lee's perspective on Body Worlds

BODY WORLDS plastinate

"I think that the exhibit is wonderful, primarily as a vehicle for educating the general public about anatomy, their bodies, and implications regarding health. When people visit, I hope they are thinking about what they can learn; how each of us is made; how our lifestyles affect our health; how important scientific research is to understanding the human condition; and how we are all similar, but different."

"Anatomy, with the skin removed, is a first for many people. The exhibit gives them a chance they may never have again to see how we're made, and to understand the organization of our structures under the skin."

"Certain behaviors and habits can be dangerous. Visualizing the results of those habits may make some people realize there may be a healthier way to live and it may not be too late to make lifestyle changes. I hope people think about who they are in relationship to things they see in the exhibit."

"The bodies, posed in activities of daily living, make some people uncomfortable. But the intricate dissections present the anatomy in very interesting ways and show the bodies in all dimensions. They also duplicate the drawings early anatomists made of the human body. Von Hagens clearly has his own style, and people need to decide for themselves how to interpret that. But decide in the context of early anatomical drawing."

Over the course of the summer, Science Buzz will feature four experts, each approaching the BODY WORLDS exhibition from a different perspective.

David Lee is the fourth in this series. Paul Wojda provided a Catholic perspective on BODY WORLDS. Dr. May Yeu Heu provided a look at Hmong cultural perspectives on body donation. Dr. Mary Faith Marshall gave us an expert bioethical perspective.

Would you donate your body for education or research? What questions would you ask first? Ask our experts!