John P. McNamara, assistant professor of basic science education and director of anatomy instruction at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, has been named president of the newly organized Virginia Anatomical Advisory Board.

The group will serve primarily as an advisory board to the Virginia State Anatomical Program (VSAP), an agency of the state health department.

VSAP is the only agency in Virginia authorized to receive donations of human bodies for scientific study. It provides cadavers to 30 educational institutions and research facilities in the commonwealth.

As the first president of the board, McNamara will oversee the completion of the group’s constitution and the activities of its newly established committees. He said one of the main focuses of the board will be to promote awareness and education about donating human remains for the purposes of teaching and medical research in the state.

“With the increase in the number of health care professional education programs across the state comes the increased need for donated human remains,” McNamara said.

He said even though a lot of anatomy education uses digital instruction, cadavers are still a fundamental part of medical training.

“Some of the advantages of cadavers are that they allow students to gain a tactile understanding of the body, to visualize relevant anatomical structures in relation to one another, and appreciate the variability among human anatomy,” he said.

Since 2015 the medical school has shared a consolidated anatomy laboratory with Radford University Carilion, the Virginia Intercollegiate Anatomy Laboratory.

Other goals of the board are to help provide training on the management of anatomy laboratories and serve as a resource for anatomy programs across the state.

McNamara received a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College in Marietta, Georgia, in 1993; master’s degrees from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and 1986; and a bachelor’s degree from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 1984. He is an emergency medical technician with the City of Salem Fire and EMS Department and director of a chiropractic clinic in Salem, Virginia.

Read more about criteria for acceptance of a body for science education through the Virginia State Anatomical Program.