Student Spotlight

Emilie Mathura, OMS I

Class of 2023

  • Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology
  • Clubs and Activities: Student Government Association, OB/GYN Club, American Medical Women's Association, and Medical Students for Choice.

Why did you choose RVUCOM? The Urban Underserved Track and the sabbatical program which will allow me to complete my Master of Public Health...
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Faculty Spotlight

Cathy Ruff, MS, PA-C

Program Director and Chair of Physician Assistant Studies
Associate Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

  • Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
  • Undergraduate Studies: Bachelor of Science degree in Cellular Biology
  • Graduate Studies: Master of Science degree in Cellular/Molecular Biology. Physician Assistant Training at the University of Colorado Health Science Center.

What class/classes do you teach? I teach professionalism topics, Physical Exam, and small group skills. Why did you choose...
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Anatomy Lab


RVU’s anatomy lab is a point of great pride. At 4,500 square feet, it is spacious, bright, and welcoming. Unlike other medical schools which often house the dissection lab in the basement, RVU’s anatomy lab is located on the third floor of the campus, with one wall of windows overlooking the Rocky Mountains. There are 21 tanks for students, as well as two tanks for Fellows and two for track and Military Medicine students.

The ventilation system–designed with valuable input by Dr. Walter Buck, Chair of Gross Anatomy–is innovative and unique: it brings in outside air and either chills or heats it to maintain a consistent 63 degrees in the lab at all times, rather than recycling air throughout the building. This allows not only the lab, but the building itself, to smell fresh at all times, providing a better dissection experience for students.

At the front of the lab, printed in large letters, is the phrase: “Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae.” This translates to, “This is the place where the dead rejoice to come to the aid of the living,” a poignant philosophy that is pressed upon all students who have the privilege of working with the bodies of donors.



Anatomy Case

Located outside of the anatomy lab, there is a glass case containing bones, skulls, and other specimens–all from Dr. Buck’s private collection. The case itself was a gift from the foundation created by the parents of Brandon Trusell, a student who tragically passed away while attending RVU.


Predoctoral Anatomy Fellowship

The Predoctoral Anatomy Fellowship program is designed to take the study of anatomy to the next level and to provide students with the necessary tools for teaching or applying anatomical research in their careers. The Fellows have the opportunity to dissect a second body (the first having been with a group of 8 other students during their first year), allowing them to obtain deeper knowledge of the structure and function of the human body. They also tutor other students (including fellow tutors), lecture, conduct research, and present at conferences.


20150508_DonorMemorialCeremony (42)Donor Memorial Ceremony

The Donor Memorial Ceremony is an annual tradition, beginning in 2012. It is a time to honor those who donated their bodies for medical purposes, allowing the students to gain a better understanding of anatomy. During the ceremony, first-year students express their gratitude in a variety of ways: singing, dancing, reading their thoughts and poems, playing instruments, and more.


Special Programs

The anatomy lab has worked with a variety of organizations and programs:

  • AIRLIFE Denver: since 2008, AIRLIFE Denver has received access to the cadavers for the purpose of training and recertifying their EMTs. Approximately 40-50 EMTs participate in the program each year. The organization has described the opportunity as “invaluable as it allows us to train in lifesaving emergency procedures…being able to perform these procedures on cadavers allow a training opportunity that is second to none.”
  • Chaparral High School’s Pre-Med Program: this allows students who are interested in a career in medicine through lectures and visits to the anatomy lab.
  • Medical Academy of Science and Health (MASH) Camp: this is an annual event which provides hands-on medical experience to high school students.
  • Regis Women in Science
  • Rock Canyon High School