The visible human dataset: The anatomical platform for human simulation


  • Victor M. Spitzer,

  • David G. Whitlock

  • Dr. Spitzer is Director of the Center for Human Simulation at University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Denver. He holds graduate degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Physical Chemistry and has worked in the field of medical (radiological) imaging for over 20 years. He was co-principal investigator on the Visible Human Project and continues to work in identifying new uses for that and similar data. Dr. Whitlock is a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver and a member of the Center for Human Simulation. He is a past president of the Association of Anatomy Chairmen and has served on the National Board of Medical Examiners and the Radiological Society of North America's task force for cross-sectional anatomy. With Dr. Spitzer, he was co-principal investigator for phase one of the National Library of Medicine's Visible Human Project. Dr. Whitlock is a member of the American Association of Anatomists and the Cajal Club.


One goal of a medical school education is to teach the anatomy of the living human. With the exception of some surface anatomy, the morphology education that goes on during a surgical procedure, and patient observation, live human anatomy is most often taught by simulation. Medical anatomy courses utilize cadavers to approximate the live human. Case-based curricula simulate a patient and present symptoms, signs, and history to mimic reality for the future practitioner. Radiology has provided images of the morphology, function, and metabolism of living humans but with images foreign to most novice observers. With the Visible Human database, computer simulation of the live human body will provide revolutionary transformations in anatomical education. Anat. Rec. (New Anat.) 253:49-57, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.