Tayside and Central Scotland

Dundee school pupil up for award for cadaver research

Omar Asad
Image caption Omar Asad's project on cadavers has made the final of the National Science + Engineering Competition

A Dundee school pupil has been nominated for a prestigious science award for his work on embalming bodies.

Omar Asad, 18, from Menzieshill High School had been researching embalming methods at Dundee University's Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.

The teenager discovered a fragmentation in muscle fibres allows Thiel cadavers to retain lifelike properties.

He is one of 200 school pupils to reach the final of the National Science + Engineering Competition.

Omar was awarded a Nuffield scholarship to work with Dr Clare Lamb at Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) to examine the factors responsible for the flexibility and suppleness in Thiel-embalmed cadavers.

Furthering research

The Thiel method of embalming gives surgeons, dentists, students and medical researchers a more realistic method of testing techniques, practising procedures and developing new equipment and approaches.

CAHID is leading the way in the use of Thiel and is building a new morgue to fully realise its potential.

Omar helped Dr Lamb and the team further their knowledge of the biochemistry underpinning the technique by discovering that a fragmentation of muscle fibres enables Thiel cadavers to retain lifelike properties.

His research project will now be one of 200 showcased to an audience of around 65,000 during the Big Bang Fair in London from 14-17 March.

The 18-year-old, who has applied to study anatomy at the university, said he was delighted to have been nominated for the final of the competition.

Building confidence

He said: "I was already planning a career in science, but this has made me doubly sure that this is what I wanted to do and that anatomy was the area I wanted to study."

"It has also given me more confidence to pursue a career in science and I learned a lot from everyone at the University."

Omar's project was to evaluate the unique lifelike properties of bodies embalmed using the Thiel method.

He said: "We compared samples from Thiel cadavers with those using formalin, the traditional embalming fluid.

"What we found was that the difference was down to a fragmentation of muscle fibres that didn't occur in formalin cadavers."

Unique project

He added: "I'm really looking forward to going down to London in March and finding out how I get on in the final.

"I was hoping for the best when I submitted my entry but I knew this was a very unique project so that made me more confident of being selected for the final."

Prof Sue Black, director of CAHID, congratulated Omar on his nomination.

She said: "Omar's research project will certainly raise some eyebrows.

"He was a pleasure to work with over the summer and the results of his project will help us to gain a much better understanding of the biochemistry of the Thiel embalming process."

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