Of all the many panels of citizens that regulate various areas of endeavor in the District of Columbia -- from barbers and beauticians to podiatrists and steamfitters -- the Anatomical Board surely must be among the most somber, if not macabre.
Established by act of Congress in 1902, the board is charged with seeing that unclaimed dead bodies are distributed for scientific purposes equitably among medical and dental schools on the basis of each school's enrollment. There were nine such cadavers last year.
In the past, D.C. Medical Examiner James L. Luke recently told the D.C. City Council staff, three local medical schools -- George Washington, Georgetown and Howard -- received cadavers in this way. But GW and GU now get theirs by what a council report calls "private donations," and Howard has been "experiencing a backlog."
The University of the District of Columbia had an answer.
UDC has a mortuary science department that is both fully equipped and fully accredited. But student interns have found it necessary to go to area funeral homes and hospital morgues to get actual experience.
So, in one of its final acts of the 1982 legislative session last week, the council remedied this situation. It passed legislation adding the distribution of cadavers to schools that offer degrees in mortuary science.