Collections to computers: Melbourne Histology Platform hosts the HGVT annual workshops

Exploring anatomy and pathology through collections and virtual reality activites, members of the Histology Group of Victoria and Tasmania were hosted by the Melbourne Histology Platform for their 2023 pre-conference workshops.

Those working in histology and histotechnology are used to seeing anatomy and pathology down the microscope. But this isn't the way that students and researchers always see it.

For the pre-conference workshops leading up to their one-day Lifting the Lid seminar, 60 members of the Histology Group of Victoria and Tasmania - composed of histology professionals from hospitals and private diagnostic pathology providers - were welcomed to The University of Melbourne to experience some of the unique ways our biomedicine and clinical students learn anatomy.

Hosted by Dr Chris Freelance of the Melbourne Histology Platform, participants visited two of the University's cutting edge anatomy and pathology education facilities.

A group of people wearing virtual reality headsetsThe Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology is one of Australia's largest collections of human tissue specimens, animal anatomy specimens, and historical anatomical models, offering students and researchers a unique insight into the human body. Led by curator Rohan Long, exclusive tours of the museum provided an opportunity for workshop participants to explore pathology on a larger scale than they see down the microscope in a working day, which was especially valuable for those relatively new to the field.

The School of Biomedical Sciences Digital Learning Hub provides contemporary and flexible learning, deploying cutting-edge learning technologies such as Sectra tables and Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) to create an immersive and enriching learning experience for students. Guided by DLH director Jairus Bowne and software developer Keenan Hellyer, participants explored changes to cellular morphology following viral infection with program ChimeraX and took a virtual journey through the heart with a module used to teach cardiovascular physiology to biomedicine students. "It was really fun, they seemed surprised by how detailed it is", said Bowne.

Beyond a unique experience for workshop attendees, hosting the workshops was a valuable opportunity to strengthen ties between some of the capabilities in the Faculty. "It's not often that a research platform teams up with one of the University's collections or a cutting edge learning facility", according to Freelance. "I think this highlights the opportunity for stronger collaboration between these difference resources, especially where there might be opportunity to enhance the learning opportunities for coursework students."