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Resident Dr. Sonabend Sets up Brain Lab for Med Students With Help of Dr. Canoll

Residents & Medical Students in Brain Lab
Adam Sonabend, MD, 5th year neurosurgery resident (wearing a red shirt and white apron in top left photo), recently set up a 3 day neuroanatomy course for medical students here at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian.

Dr. Sonabend was assisted by 4th year medical student and Doris Duke fellow, Mike McDowell (with shaved head in bottom photo). They were fortunate to be able to bring in one of our distinguished professors as an instructor, Dr. Peter Canoll, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology and Co-Director of the Brain Tumor Center (bottom right of bottom photo).

“Studying the brain is key for a medical student,” says Dr. Sonabend. “Books are essential, as well as fascinating neuroscience lectures. Nevertheless, for true anatomical understanding, especially for integration of the knowledge at a clinical level, there is no substitute for dissection of the human brain. For many centuries, clinicians and scientists were not allowed to do this, and had to hide risking their lives in order to study the human brain. At Columbia, the resources are available for wonderful hands-on neuroanatomy learning. We are taking advantage of this opportunity and getting together with the medical students to do brain dissections and learn about the spatial relationships between different neuroanatomical structures.”

Students learned to dissect human brains to expose different structures with a focus on the tridimensional relationships between the different parts. The brain specimens were prepared with a special protocol called the Klinger’s technique to allow for the easy identification of deep white matter structures such as the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the optic pathway, and the corticospinal tract, areas which are key for language, vision and motor activity respectively. Throughout these dissections, clinical correlations were emphasized.

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