Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Department of Anatomy

From the opening of the College Schools in 1789, anatomy was taught system by system.

One student wrote that this was like attempting to 'explain the mechanism of a watch by taking it to pieces and giving a separate description of every particular wheel and spring without afterwards attempting to show by what contrivance one moves the other. The student who has been shown the venous, arterial and nervous systems of the arm does not know how each of them lies with respect to each other.'

The student was Abraham Colles and, once appointed Professor in 1804, he revolutionised the teaching of anatomy by approaching it topographically, seeking 'to describe the relative position of the parts, and to point out the subservience of anatomical knowledge to surgical practice'. We still follow his advice.

Clive Lee,
Professor of Anatomy

Anatomy Lesson

'The Anatomy Lesson of the Irish College of Surgeons' by Robert Jackson, 2009.