Institute of Anatomy
The Institute of Anatomy is one of the largest departments of the Faculty of Medicine of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences.
The main goal of the Institute of Anatomy is to provide the knowledge about the anatomy of the human body, organ systems and structure of individual organs as well as the knowledge needed for professional training of medical doctors and other fundamental issues in human biology studies.
The Institute of Anatomy teaches students of various faculties such as Medicine, Odontology, Pharmacy, Nursing and Public Health.
The origin of the Institute of Anatomy lies at the beginning of 20th century. After Polish legionnaires had occupied Vilnius in 1919, Higher Courses of higher education were established in Kaunas in 1920 owing to the efforts of prominent progressive public figures. On 27 January 1920, Dr. Jurgis Žilinskas, a surgeon of Kaunas Military Hospital, delivered the first lecture in Human Anatomy. In 1921, the Department of Anatomy was allotted a house (“Anatomicum”), in which a small dissecting room and lecture rooms were arranged. In 1922, when the University of Lithuania was chartered, the Institute of Anatomy became a part of the Medical Faculty. In that period, working conditions were especially hard as there was a lack of textbooks and manuals published in Lithuanian. The colleagues of prof. J. Žilinskas started making skeletons, teaching specimens and demonstrative supplies. Lectures in systematic human anatomy were delivered by prof. J. Žilinskas, and notes of his lectures were the only teaching aids in Lithuanian. In 1933, the Institute of Anatomy was transferred to new premises of the central building in A. Mickevičiaus street.
Today, the Institute of Anatomy has the renovated facilities in which practice and self-studies for students can be organised. Students have a possibility to gain knowledge using high quality anatomical modules, posters, etc. Students can also study in the Museum of Anatomy, where they can find a valuable collection of anatomical preparations. The biggest part of them was made by prof. J. Žilinskas and his colleagues. There are also possibilities to study anatomy using computer programmes.
The Institute of Anatomy has good and various bases for scientific research as it incorporates the following laboratories:
Laboratory of Neuroanatomy
Laboratory of Embalming
Laboratory of Ultramicrotome
Laboratory of Electron Microscopy
Laboratory of Immunochemistry
Laboratory of Neuromorphology
Laboratory of Microscopy
The Institute of Anatomy closely collaborates with colleagues in Vilnius, Riga Stradins (Latvia), Tartu (Estonia), Aachen (Germany), Michigan (USA), Oxford (Great Britain) and Warmia-Mazury (Poland) universities.
Scientific studies in the Institute of Anatomy involve 2 periods, i.e. anthropology and neuroanatomy. Anthropology in Kaunas was initiated and developed by professor Jurgis Žilinskas and his followers (A. Jurgutis, J. Dobrovolskaitė-Tiknienė, R. Masalskis and others) in 1920 and continued until 1940. Kaunas anthropologists studied human fossil skulls and somatometry of the Lithuanian population. After the second world war, anthropological studies moved to Vilnius University together with prof. J. Žilinskas and his follower prof. S. Pavilonis.
Research work on neuroanatomy was undertaken by assoc. prof. Artūras Jurgutis who collected a large number of human brain samples and started to analyse macroscopically cerebral hemispheres and brain stem structures in order to identify age- and gender-related variations. The results of his studies were summarised in his dissertation "Human brain weight and structural variations”, which was defended in 1957 in the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences.
In the sixties, innervation of the human cardiovascular system has become the main topic of the researchers in the Institute of Anatomy. A pioneer in these studies was professor Adolfas Urbonas focusing on vascular innervation. Followers of prof. A. Urbonas applied neuroanatomical methods for research into the human heart and the hearts of animals. Throughout the period of neuroanatomical investigations into the cardiovascular system, new methods were developed and improved including microscopic dissection, silver impregnation, neurohistochemistry, electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry and intracellular staining. The findings on neuroanatomy of the cardiovascular system were summarised in 24 doctoral dissertations.
Heart innervation has been the main subject of scientific research in the Institute of Anatomy for more than 50 years. Currently, intrinsic cardiac neural plexus, its topography, intracardiac ganglia, neurons, nerves and nerve fibres are in a scope of the present neuroanatomical investigations as well.
Every 2 years, the Institute of Anatomy organises the Symposium of Baltic morphologists. The Institute maintains contacts with colleagues from Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and other countries.
The study aim is to provide students with good fundamental theoretical and essential practical knowledge about the human anatomy. Studies of human anatomy include lectures, practical works and seminars.
First year students of the Faculties of Medicine, Odontology, Pharmacy, Nursing and Public Health study the discipline of Human Anatomy in the Institute of Anatomy. The thrid, fourth and fifth year students of the Faculty of Medicine study various programmes of modules.
University PhD students study the disciplines of neuroanatomy and evolution of the human body in the Institute of Anatomy.
The Institute of Anatomy broadens knowledge of medical residents, too.