Aiding the POP AART Project

Dr. Smith assisting in a project meant to demonstrate greater representation of physical traits in anatomy instruction.

January 26, 2022
Aiding the POP AART Project

Representation matters, even in a diagram in a textbook. Touro University California (TUC) Assistant Professor Dr. Theodore C. Smith will be assisting in a project meant to demonstrate greater representation of physical traits in anatomy instruction. The project is being funded by The American Association for Anatomy (AAA).

TUC's College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean Dr. Tami Hendriksz expressed her support for Dr. Smith and this effort.

"I am incredibly proud of Dr. Theo Smith and his commitment to bring diversity and inclusion into the medical education landscape. This particular project aims to develop an accessible digital library of anatomical images that fully represent all patient populations," Dr. Hendriksz said. "This will help to add clear diversity to the current anatomical images which tend to be of pale-skinned, muscular, male subjects. In this way our student doctors will be able to learn anatomy on a set of subjects that better represent their future patients."

AAA has funded a program entitled Portfolios of People: Advancing Anatomical Representation Together (POP AART). The POP AART program aims to address a lack of open-access anatomy teaching visual supplements that are representative of human diversity.

Most anatomical imagery currently available features pale-skinned, muscular, male subjects. Additionally, many of these images are either copyright-protected or owned by publishers, greatly limiting the availability of affordable visual supplements for anatomy instructors.

POP AART will combat these issues by creating an accessible digital library of representative photographs and illustrations of diverse individuals. The portfolio will include self-identified narratives from models, illustrators, and photographers.

“This project is just a small step towards addressing the inequities in anatomical education,” adds team member, Dr. Theodore Smith, “While much work is still yet to be done, representation within anatomical content, whether for patient or professional education, is a vital step.”

Work on the project will begin in January 2022 and will continue through December 2023.

“I am beyond thrilled to be on the POP AART team and know that this project will provide essential resources for our membership and beyond,” says team member Dr. Kelly Harrell. “I am grateful for AAA’s full support of this project and the Association’s ongoing, intentional efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion work within anatomical science education, research and service.”