Vol 121, No 2 (2016)
Original Article

Students’ opinion towards the Pernkopf atlas: are the Italian students ready to know the history?

Published 2016-06-20


  • anatomy,
  • history of anatomy

How to Cite

Gibelli, D., & Sforza, C. (2016). Students’ opinion towards the Pernkopf atlas: are the Italian students ready to know the history?. Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology, 121(2), 133–137. Retrieved from https://oajournals.fupress.net/index.php/ijae/article/view/1446


The debate around Pernkopf’s atlas, the origin of bodies used to create its plates and the person of Eduard Pernkopf has involved with time academic authorities and university professors, and has shaken the anatomical scenario. However, no study has been so far performed concerning the opinion of students towards this sensitive and problematic issue. This article aims at exposing the results of an interview performed on 42 Italian medical students, after a self-chosen course of history of human anatomy, in order to ascertain the students’ opinion towards this important debate in the anatomic scenario. Results showed that 91% of students did not know the existence of Pernkopf’s atlas: 51% stated they would not use it, whereas for 65% it should be preserved for didactic purposes. Subjects who preferred the atlas to be banished justified their position mainly on the base of ethical reasons (25%); however, in a third of cases students were not able to give an answer. Twenty-two percent of students who agree with a preservation of the atlas would limit its use to historical studies. In 11% ethical issues were not considered important. In 52% of cases no opinion was given. Results show that the debate concerning Pernkopf’s atlas, at least among students, is at the very beginning: more efforts need to be performed in order to let the medical students know the history of the atlas and its importance in the scientific debate around the ethics in anatomy.