Commission of Anatomy

Commission of Anatomy

The donation of one’s body is a precious gift, and one that is deeply appreciated by the state’s medical, dental and health profession students. This is a gift that needs to be made in advance, so that the donor’s name can be placed on a Donor Registry for the state.

The Commission of Anatomy was established in 1975 by N.C. General Statute § 130A-33.30 and charged with ensuring a sufficient number of human bodies for the study of anatomy in the state of North Carolina. It also oversees the disposition of unclaimed bodies.

At that time, willed body or body donation programs had already been established at each of the four medical schools in North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, East Carolina, and Wake Forest). The Commission provides oversight to each of these programs and guidance in the establishment of other programs in the state which use human bodies for education and research, including Fayetteville Technical College's program in Mortuary Science.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) partners with the Commission of Anatomy. The Commission of Anatomy is an organization chaired and facilitated by Dr. Thomas Perrault. The Commission of Anatomy is not a state office nor is it a part of the OCME or the Division of Public Health. Information about the Commission of Anatomy may be requested via the contact information listed under commission membership and resources and contacts.

In donating your body to one of these programs, you provide a wonderful gift of knowledge for the training of physicians, dentists, and physical therapists. Here are the thoughts of a former medical student at UNC-Chapel Hill on the profound impact of such a gift, given at the memorial service held at the end of the anatomy course each year to recognize and celebrate the lives of the individuals who contribute the great gift of their bodies so that the students may learn:

From that first day in August and the many days that followed, you proved yourself to be an extraordinary teacher. Never before have I learned so much information from a single person. Because of you I gained an enduring respect for the miracle of the human body. Because of you, I’m confident I shall be better prepared to treat my future patients. Because of you, my clinical skills will be rooted in a fundamental knowledge of human anatomy. I came to know you as I have known no other teacher, nor individual for that matter. I have to confess, however, that it always unnerved me, your pupil, that I likely knew your physical body better than your own physician had. But always my regret was never to have known the real person -- I could only imagine the sound of your voice, the twinkle of your eye, your laugh, your personality, your character. Though you yielded many of your secrets, I knew your soul was entrusted to another.

Martha Peck, M.D., Class of 2004, UNC School of Medicine


Last Modified: May 1, 2020