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Anatomists are biological scientists who study the structure of living things. Most anatomists are biomedical researchers and educators focusing on human anatomical form and function. Many specialize in areas such as biological imaging, cell biology, genetics, molecular development, endocrinology (study of the glands that produce hormones), histology (study of tissues), neuro-science, forensics, microscopy, and physical anthropology (study of the physical characteristics, variability, and evolution of the human organism).
Most anatomists work in colleges, universities, or medical centers. They usually teach and do research. They help train scientists, as well as physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and other workers in the health field. Some work for government agencies or for medical and scientific publishing firms. Others are employed by private companies, such as firms that make artificial limbs or organs.
Although the work of anatomists varies widely, nearly all spend some time in laboratories studying the structures of plant or animal species. Anatomists may do basic research to further our knowledge about organisms in general. They may also do applied research to solve specific problems. The two kinds of research often overlap.
Anatomists often observe and dissect the large organs of plants and animals. They use microscopes and computers to examine smaller units, such as small organs, tissues, and cells. They also use special techniques to prepare their samples. Because their field is so broad, anatomists need to have some knowledge of other fields such as embryology, neurology, biomedical engineering, genetics, and pathology. They often work with experts in these fields. Anatomists are sometimes assisted by biological technicians.