Photo illustration by Elyse Taylor

There are people that make a name for themselves by giving to science.

There are, however, people that give their own bodies to science, and no one can call them by name.

On the first floor of the science building there is a locked door, not because there is danger of death, but because the people in the room are already dead.

There are between four and six cadavers used by students at UVU in advanced anatomy classes at any time. These cadavers are people who have volunteered to give their bodies to science. These bodies are treated with the utmost respect.


The cadavers are kept under lock and key. They are very rarely alone. Six days a week someone is studying them. They are protected only to be dissected.

“Using cadavers is better in anatomy than using just models or pictures,” said Dr. Mike Shively, an Anatomy professor for classes that use the cadavers.

Students in Human Anatomy, ZOOL 2320, and Advanced Anatomy, ZOOL 4700, will be able to work with them. The students in 2320 will use them to identify bones, muscles and other parts of the body. Meanwhile, those in 4700 will dissect them and look at the differences in organs, tissue and muscles throughout the body.

There are some that are always facing up while others are facing down, ensuring that different parts of the human anatomy are on display. There are some that are mostly dissected, some that have had their skin removed and others that are new and perfectly intact.

There are a large number of rules in place just to enter the cadaver room. Only students in the classes are allowed to enter, no pictures can be taken of the cadavers, no unprotected contact is permitted and there is no taking of body parts. There are no names given to the cadavers, real or made up. A serious atmosphere is to be maintained ? no joking with or at the bodies.

The cadavers are rented from the University of Utah for $1,500 per body. They are used for up to three years and maintained as carefully as a doctor would take care of any living patient. The bodies are wrapped multiple times to keep them moist.

As long as rules are followed and care is taken, there is no danger from the embalming fluid phenol, which has replaced formaldehyde for use in cadavers. There is also no danger from any diseases that caused the death of any of these people. Pregnant women are also okay to work with them, as long as they are cleared through their physician.