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The Body Lab: Boulder company offers cadaver dissection classes to public

Students must have background in human anatomy
Posted at 5:35 PM, Oct 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-29 20:40:41-04

BOULDER, Colo. -- Inside his Boulder lab, Todd Garcia has a special talent that he finds in no way strange.

"I like the idea of being very, very good at something, and I'm fortunate to have found it," said Garcia. "It's innate ability."

Garcia is known internationally as a master in dissecting human cadavers.

"So after 16 years I'm finally ready to say to everybody: We're here," said Garcia, who directs the Laboratories of Anatomical Enlightenment, tucked away in a small Boulder industrial complex.

He teaches two- or five-day continuing education classes to students from all over the world. On the day Denver7 visited, acupuncture students and teachers from McMaster University in Canada were hard at work. They come here every year.

"We are like surgeons trying to learn surgery, but instead of operating on the living we operate on the dead," said Alejandro Elorriaga with McMaster University. "We have the opportunity to use fresh, un-embalmed cadavers and start from scratch. Very few parts in the world you have that opportunity."

Garcia says not just anyone can take his classes. Students must have a background and education in anatomy, and students often include yoga and Pilates instructors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists and dentists.

Robin Slocum, a Boulder acupuncturist, helped start the lab.

"It felt, to me, like what a great thing if crowds can come here and awaken from that, as well as better their practice," said Slocum.

Gacia has built a reputation and now gets cadavers from two donor programs, the University of Utah and Science Care.

For someone whose talent is dissection, he knows being this close to death every day may seem difficult from the outside, but he believes it makes him appreciate life even more.

"I'm very much aware that's somebody's family member, and we treat them that way," he said. "Even though we didn't meet their family, we don't know them, but we kind of do know them because we're all the same."

Classes can run about $1,700 per student, and the lab takes about 300 students a year, using about 55-60 cadavers.