It also documents changes in the understanding of pathology and in treatment; in particular, the examples of early heart transplantation work.
The pathology teaching collection probably began very soon after a department of pathology was officially formed at the early medical school in Cape Town; our oldest specimen bottle is dated 1927. By 1936 "the pathology museum (..). had grown to a considerable size"*. For many years the museum was central to teaching pathology, before going into something of a decline over the last decade or two. The teaching collection is now being resuscitated thanks to funding from the Department of Education, primarily for digitisation. In the process, the specimen bottles are being restored, the catalogues are going electronic and a digital pathology website is being set up for 24 hour access to the collection by health sciences students.
Jurgen Geitner and Dr. Jane Yeats have begun photographing the collection of post-mortem books , starting with the oldest one at the University, from 1927. The collection is now available online.
The old mortuary building is being renovated to accommodate the collection, and new displays with new themes are being planned in collaboration with the Michaelis School of Fine Art. The new facility will probably be named the Pathology Learning Centre and will incorporate other collections such as the Saint collection (surgery), the forensic pathology collection and images from the Division of Microbiology. Prospectively, the intention is to present more complete pathology case reports with radiology and laboratory data accompanying the specimens. If possible, patients' experiences of their disease and its symptoms will be recorded. Documentation of pathology in literature and art will be incorporated into the displays.
(The current space in which the collection is housed)
Ultimately the facility will extend its resources to other African Universities via the website, offer outreach programmes such as satellite displays in peripheral hospitals, and guided exposure for high school groups.
Text by curator of the Pathology Museum, Dr. Jane Yeats.
*In the shadow of Table Mountain. A history of the University of Cape Town Medical School. JH Louw. 1969. Struik, Cape Town. (MH610.70968 LOU)
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