Department of Anatomy
The discipline of anatomy organises basic education in macroscopic human anatomy, microscopic human anatomy, or histology, and cell biology for students of medicine and dentistry, as well as students in the Master’s Degree Programme in Translational Medicine in their first and second year of studies.

The Department of Anatomy conducts basic research in neurobiology and cell biology (research areas include membrane biology, as well as the mechanisms of the development of the nervous system and neurotransmission). In addition, we are developing and utilising genetically modified cellular and animal models and various imaging methods. The Department organises postgraduate research education for doctoral students and post-doctoral education for researchers who have completed their doctoral degree. The Department houses the Biomedicum Imaging Unit BIU.


The Department is responsible for organising two courses in medicine and dentistry: Healthy and Diseased Tissue, as well as Musculoskeletal System. The Department organises teaching in anatomy and histology also in the following courses: Structure and Function of the Cell, Nervous System, Respiratory Organs, Digestive System and Nourishment, and Endocrinology and Genitals. In addition, the Department organises optional courses on various subjects such as clinical anatomy and research skills.

Teaching in anatomy is problem based. Students familiarise themselves with anatomy also with the help of dissection, prosection, surface anatomy, ultrasound anatomy, clinical-theoretical seminars and virtual microscopy.

Please find out about project opportunities directly from the research groups.




Research Groups

Strategy of the Department of Anatomy

We are committed to performing cutting edge discovery and translational science and educating the next generation of clinicians through the latest developments in research-led teaching. Our diverse and inclusive community strives to enrich and influence the lives of patients and society in Finland and beyond.

Our active and adaptive academic community is united by a common goal to pursue excellence in biomedical research and teaching. Our Department is a central hub that stimulates scientific exchange, with our research and teaching contributing to numerous strategic research initiatives in Helsinki and further afield. The Department is also strengthened by diversity, in both the range of activities and research that we perform and our people from all over the world which make this possible. We strive to perform our work in an open-minded society that positively contributes to a brighter future.

Our goal is to foster an environment conducive to excellent research and the exchange of scientific ideas that have the potential to transform medicine. Importantly, the Department of Anatomy plays a critical role in the Faculty of Medicine by developing future practitioners through top-level teaching and specialist instruction. We emphasize the significance of basic sciences in the medical curriculum, as literacy in this will become all more important in the future with developing technologies.  Initiatives in our department influence national and international teaching strategies in modern medicine and our responsiveness enables us to tackle emergent challenges in a changing world. This includes effectively communicating our science and its relevance to wider society, to promote the public understanding of science and engage all sectors of society. The Department actively supports the translation of ongoing research activities into innovations and commercial ventures, generating value for society at multiple levels.

Body dona­tion to med­ical science

The dissection of cadavers, indispensable to teaching at the Department of Anatomy, is only possible if the Department is provided with a sufficient number of cadavers for this purpose. All Finnish citizens of age and with legal capacity have the opportunity to give their body donation consent in front of witnesses.

The details on a completed and submitted body donation consent form can be registered into the My Kanta service, after which they will be available to the nationwide health care system. You may enter the following message in the open field included in the My Kanta organ donation testament: “I have given consent to donating my body to the University of Helsinki”. You may also check the box for organ donations, since these two options are not in conflict. Each person can only donate either individual organs or their entire body, depending on the actual situation at the time of donation.

My Kanta

Contact details

Head of de­part­ment

professor Matti Airaksinen
PO BOX 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8)
00014 University of Helsinki


PO BOX 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8)
00014 University of Helsinki