THE University of Sunderland is set to build a multi-million pound facility to help train the medical professionals of tomorrow using human tissue.

Sunderland City Council has granted planning permission for a new ‘cadaveric centre’ at the university’s city campus and work is expected to start in around six weeks.

When completed, the centre will be key to the newly-established School of Medicine, provide training for other students within the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing and offer vital facilities and benefits to surgeons and surgical trainees in the region.

The latest development comes after the university opened its first School of Medicine in September 2018.

The Northern Echo:

Professor of Anatomy Debs Patten said: “We deliver anatomy teaching to a range of healthcare education programmes across the Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing using a blended approach of virtual dissection, digital and clinical imaging, portable ultrasound and living anatomy as well as using anatomical models.

“These learning resources are greatly appreciated by our students and staff, but undoubtedly, the inclusion of cadaveric anatomy will be of huge benefit to our institution and indeed the region.

“Anatomy is widely appreciated as being one of the most significant elements of medical education.

“Digital resources are highly effective educational tools, but cannot reproduce the variability and complexity of the human body and for this reason, medical students and their educators consider cadaveric anatomy to be the gold standard for anatomy education.

“Most UK medical students will study cadaveric anatomy – in fact only a handful of UK medical schools do not offer cadaveric anatomy – but cadaveric provision for allied healthcare students is often limited.

“Our facility will offer cadaveric provision for our medical students and our allied healthcare students.”

The facility will allow learners to improve their depth perception, spatial orientation and visualization of body structures below the skin.

Professor Patten added: “A hands-on experience uniquely provides authentic tactile information on tissue texture which, when coupled with 3D visualization of anatomic structures, offers learners highly memorable learning experiences.

“In addition, cadaveric anatomy is often students’ first encounter with death and it provides educators with a unique opportunity to teach students about death and to respect their patient at all times, in life and in death.”

As well as the university’s medical students, the centre will be used by those on other programmes including paramedicine, physiotherapy, nursing and others.

Professor Patten went on to say: “Moreover, the opportunity to provide a cadaveric facility and resources will be of great benefit to our surgeons and surgical trainees across the region as we will be able to host cadaveric Continued Professional Development (CPD) Courses.

“Provision of CPD for surgeons will enhance our reputation and have positive impact within the region, providing training and research opportunities for our surgical colleagues.”

Andrew Bumfrey, Associate Director of Space Architect, who designed the new centre, welcomed the planning approval.

“It has been fantastic to closely collaborate with the School of Medicine to create this unique brief, generate a bespoke design response and achieve full planning approval,” he said.

“The project provides a great future for the teaching of anatomy and further enhances the school’s facilities.

“The new building will support a range of dedicated, state-of-the-art learning environments for staff and students, influencing the education of future generations of doctors, nurses and other key healthcare workers.”

Dr Ian Pattison, Clinical Chair of NHS Sunderland CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group), said: “This new learning facility is a fantastic addition to the medical and surgical graduate offer in Sunderland and will help set the University of Sunderland as a centre of excellence in surgical training.

“The practical education that will be provided here will ensure that graduates are equipped with the specialist skills required to help patients for the whole of the North East region.”