Anatomy and Cell Biology

Department History

The Department of Anatomy was formed in the fall of 1903, when Indiana University School of Medicine was established. It was one of only three basic science departments for the school; the others were physiology and chemistry. The Department of Anatomy was housed on the Bloomington campus until 1958, when it moved into the new Van Nuys Medical Sciences Building in Indianapolis, where the School of Medicine was based. The Medical Sciences Program remained in Bloomington.

Focus of Research

In 1990, the Department of Anatomy decided to concentrate on three areas of research expertise that already had some strength in the department: renal biology, skeletal biology and neuroscience. The latter comprises several subspecialty areas, including studies of spinal cord repair and regeneration, neuronal ischemia, epilepsy, and auditory sensation. In 1999, the department officially changed its name to Anatomy and Cell Biology to better position the scope of work to recruit graduate students and to reflect the infusion of new faculty who were using cellular and molecular techniques.


William Lowe Bryan, PhD, then president of Indiana University, recruited Burton D. Myers, MD (of Myers Hall fame) from The Johns Hopkins University to teach anatomy, and together they welcomed the first medical school class in September of 1903. Myers remained professor of anatomy and chair of the Department of Anatomy until his retirement in 1940.

Edwin Kierm, MD, succeeded Myers as chair from 1941 to 1949, and Richard Webb, MD, held the position from 1949 until 1958. Warren Andrew, MD, took over the chairmanship in 1958, serving until 1971, when Ward Moore, MD, became the acting chair. Charles Blevins, MD, joined IU School of Medicine from Northwestern University to become chairman of the Department of Anatomy in 1974. He remained chairman until 1989, when Richard Peterson, MD, served as interim chair. On January 1, 1990, David Burr, PhD, was appointed chair of the Department.

In January 2011, Kathryn Jones, PhD, a neuroscientist and anatomist with research interests in neuroregeneration and neuroimmunology became the new department chair and brought goals to establish translational neuroscience initiatives with the Stark Neurosciences Research Center on the IU School of Medicine—Indianapolis campus and at the Indianapolis VA Hospital, which is adjacent to the medical school campus. In addition to her position as chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Jones is a VA research career scientist.

Both Burr and Jones have longstanding service commitments to the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the scientific home of Anatomy since 1888, with each having served as president and been named a Fellow of the AAA.