Cadavers honored through virtual memorial led by medical students

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

2021 Cadaver Memorial

2021 Cadaver MemorialMarking the completion of gross anatomy, the Class of 2024 honored those who donated their bodies to medical education at the annual Cadaver Memorial Service at McGovern Medical School Jan. 19.

The 2021 ceremony was presented virtually to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic. First-year medical students, led by Class of 2024 Anatomy Course Representatives Saloni Kumar and Michael Talanker, were tasked with moving the entire ceremony online for the first time, with help from representatives from the second-year class.

Gross anatomy class director Leonard Cleary, PhD, associate dean for educational programs, distinguished teaching professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, and director of the Human Structure Facility, praised first-year medical students for their flexibility and resiliency, not only to adapt the Cadaver Memorial to a virtual platform, but also in continuing their education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He also thanked Han Zhang, MD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy, for going above and beyond to ensure the gross anatomy course ran as close to normal as possible while implementing safe social distancing measures.

Claire E. Hulsebosch, PhD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy, reminded the first-year medical students of how memorable of an experience the gross anatomy class can be. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege and honor in guiding you on your journey of the human body,” she said.

2021 Cadaver Memorial

Though the Cadaver Memorial was presented virtually, select members of the class of 2024 gathered to light 20 candles for each individual who donated their body to science. Following the candle lighting ceremony, Christopher Busby, MS1, presented a eulogy in honor of them.

“We are here today to honor the 20 individuals who gave their bodies so that we may better learn the art of healing. For that, we light 20 candles. I like to think of these candles and the light they give off as representing the gift of knowledge, a light in a sometimes very dark world.

“These 20 have given us a gift, the significance of which is hard to fully comprehend. Many others have given us their expertise, their support, their time, and their money based on their faith in us that we are capable of developing our talents into good and capable medical practice. Yet the people we honor today have given something more intimate than any of these other gifts, they have given their very bodies. How can we not feel so enormously blessed and humbled when the faith of so many has been placed upon us? For all that has been given to us in the furtherance of our education, we are forever indebted.

“Each of us will do something different to better the lives of our communities. Many do not yet know what that will look like, but whichever paths we ultimately take today, we can stand united in our gratitude for what will one day be the awesome privilege of going out into the world with the skills necessary to make life-saving decisions. In that vein, these 20 lives have now become 240, that will go out and save countless more. Each of us has become a part of their legacy, and our contributions have also become their contributions to the world.

“In life, each of these people had loved ones. Those that held them close, laughed with them, cried with them, that were grieved by their passing. We will never know their names nor their faces. However, years from now, each of us will go out into the world and save many lives through our work. We will be there in the worst times for so many: sometimes as they mourn, sometimes as they celebrate the gift of a few more years of life. Each time I see my patients and their loved ones, with hope in their eyes, I will think of these 20 and those that cared for them. And I will consider the debt paid.”

For individuals interested in the Will Body Program at McGovern Medical School, please visit