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Dazzling dissection images from Stanford's famed Bassett collection go online

The image of the human heart floats detached in a sea of blue, its tiniest red arteries and blue veins clearly shown growing into the muscled organ like the tiny roots of a tree. With the click of a mouse, the right ventricle lights up green; another click on “apex of the heart” and the bottom tip turns purple.

By this summer, thousands of similar images of every part of the body will be online in a newly digitized version of the Stanford University School of Medicine’s world-renowned Bassett Collection of Human Dissection.

“The Bassett collection is simply the most beautiful dissection collection in existence,” said Paul Brown, DDS, consulting associate professor of anatomy, referring to the 50-year-old collection of 1,547 photographs of serial dissections painstakingly annotated over a 17-year period. “The photographs are stunning.”

After almost four years of work by School of Medicine researchers together with eHuman, a Silicon Valley company, the first set of images of the head and neck are now ready for public viewing online at By summer, the rest of the human body will follow. The images are free to the Stanford community and available to the public for a minimal fee.

“This collection is designed for any student of anatomy, from a high-schooler, to a medical anatomist,” said Brown, founder of eHuman, an anatomy dissection software company located in Portola Valley whose mission is to create the first “clickable” human, something akin to the Google Earth map project, but for the body.

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