FICEM – Five Year Strategic Plan

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FICEM intends to be a think-tank and adviser for all ethical questions related to anatomical research, anatomical teaching, and anatomical collections and displays. We want to raise awareness for the guidelines introduced by the previous committee under Gareth Jones (“Recommendations of good practice for the donation and study of human bodies and tissues for anatomical examination”) and to support those who may be unable to comply with these guidelines due to cultural or religious reasons.

In upcoming years, we intend to examine with an open and scientific mind the various ways of dealing with ethical issues in anatomical research and education, in order to:


  • study and compare cultural, religious and philosophical backgrounds in anatomical research and education
  • learn from the many positive solutions that anatomy communities around the world have developed to deal with ethical issues in anatomy
  • create a network open to all those with a serious interest in ethical issues in anatomy
  • make relevant publications on ethical issues in anatomy known to a wider audience
  • encourage an international discussion among anatomists that brings in perspectives from the humanities and is open to learning from errors of the past and from positive examples around the world.




  • Making relevant information and publications available.
    • The FICEM page of the IFAA site at contains an online version of the “Recommendations of good practice …”, and other relevant information, including a list of recommended literature related to the field. This is continuously updated.


  • Creating a forum for discussion about ethical issues in the field of anatomy.
    • We have introduced a moderated “ifaa-ethics” mailing list, which is open to those with a sincere interest in these matters (see It is hoped that this will develop into a network of interested members all over the world.


  • Raising the awareness of ethical issues within the community of anatomists and promoting the “Recommendations of good practice …”.
    • To raise the profile of FICEM, members have been encouraged to deliver a powerpoint presentation on FICEM at conferences they attend (should the presentation be relevant to the audience). This powerpoint contains information on FICEM and its role within the IFAA, as well as outlining the role of the various IFAA committees. This will help raise the profile of FICEM within anatomy associations, and raise awareness of the existence of the IFAA, its structure and organisation, the IFAA website, and the resources contained within.
    • Members continuously comment on recent academic discussions by letters[1] and continuously publish original work on questions of history and ethics in anatomy.
    • Members have contributed to a special issue of Clinical Anatomy devoted to ethics in anatomy edited by Gareth Jones,[2] and intend to continue publishing on such themes.
    • Organisation of symposia on topics of “Ethics in Anatomy”.


  • Discussing current topics of ethical relevance to the international community of anatomists within the FICEM team and providing IFAA and its executive board with advice regarding these topics.
    The following relevant themes have already been identified and will be covered in the near future:

    • Ethical and Medical Humanities Perspectives on the Public Display of Plastinated Cadavers.
    • Education on female anatomy and its relevance for FGC/FGM issues.

More themes may come up in the course of our work during the next years.




  • Supporting and encouraging colleagues still using unclaimed bodies to install body donation programs.
    • A list of all countries of the world and information regarding their current status of body donation will soon be published and will also be put on the FICEM website in an updated online version.


  • Undertaking revision of “Recommendations for good practice …” in the period leading up to the IFAA conference in September 2019.
    For this revision, we have set up a provisional plan that will allow for two rounds of consultation with associate members and other experts, with a final version being tabled at the IFAA conference. The proposed timeline is as follows:

    • March 2017 – March 2018
      FICEM to contact anatomy associations to request feedback on the current body donation guidelines. This long timeframe allows this to occur at local association conferences during the year.
      Discussion within FICEM as to which sections of the current guidelines may require amendment, taking feedback from anatomy associations into account.
    • April 2018 – September 2018
      FICEM to amend the guidelines in line with the feedback received.
    • October 2018 – March 2019
      Amended body donation guidelines circulated to anatomy associations and relevant experts for feedback.
    • April 2019 – October 2019
      FICEM to amend guidelines based on the second round feedback and expert comments.
    • September 2019
      FICEM deliver revised guidelines at IFAA conference.

[1] Cornwall, J., Winkelmann, A., Hildebrandt, S., 2016. Cadaver Exome Sequencing for Teaching First-Year Medical Students. JAMA 316, 102-103.
Winkelmann, A., 2017. Guidelines for reporting original anatomical studies-Quality and ethics. Clin. Anat. 10.1002/ca.22833
Kahn, P.A., Champney, T.H., Hildebrandt, S., 2017. The incompatibility of the use of unclaimed bodies with ethical anatomical education in the United States. Anat Sci Educ 10, 200-201.

[2] (open access)