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University of Utah School of Medicine to Honor Body Donors, Families at Annual Memorial Service


A memorial service to honor 241 individuals who gave their bodies to science and education at the University of Utah last year


Friday, May 26th, 11:00am.


Body Donor Program Grave Site, northwest corner of the Salt Lake City Cemetery, 200 North N Street (medical student ambassadors will direct visitors to the grave site location)


The program will include remarks from Kerry Don Peterson, director of the U's Body Donor Program; Wayne Samuelson, MD, interim dean of the School of Medicine; Andrew Weyrich, PhD, VP of Research; David Morton, anatomy course director; and Dani Golomb, medical student, class of 2020. The service will also include musical presentations and a congregational sharing opportunity for family and friends.


The Latin phrase, Mortui vivos docent (the deceased teach the living), can be found in anatomy laboratories around the world. According to Kerry Don Peterson, director of the U's Body Donor Program, the best medium for research and study of the human being is the body itself. "The three-dimensional intricacies of the human body cannot be fully duplicated in books, on slides, by computers, or through the use of plastic models," he says.

With the recent class size expansion of the University's School of Medicine, we are particularly interested in continuing to educate the public about body donations. The kind gifts are even more critical with the increase of medical students and future physicians. Since 1998, the annual service has been held on the Friday before Memorial Day to honor those who've given their bodies for research at the U of U. In addition to helping educate future health-care professionals, cadavers also are used by researchers to develop new technologies and to teach practicing physicians novel procedures and techniques for surgery.

The U's volunteer Body Donor Program was formalized in the early 1940s when the medical school became a four-year program. After the bodies are studied or used in research, they are cremated. The remains then are given to the family or buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.