Our History

Like several other academic units in the VCU School of Medicine, the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology traces its origin from the founding of the Medical College of Virginia (now the VCU School of Medicine) and the leadership of one of the school’s early physician scientists, Dr. Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard, who arrived in the mid-1800s.

Although Dr. Brown-Séquard fostered a research environment and wrote a major treatise on the physiology and pathology of the spinal cord in what is now the Egyptian Building, the primary focus of the department in the later part of the 19th and early 20th century had begun to shift to the teaching of surgical anatomy which, at that time, was integral to the practice of medicine.

By the mid-20th century the department had transitioned to its current roots, now focusing on the teaching of gross anatomy, histology, embryology and neuroanatomy in the medical and dental schools, with an emerging commitment to graduate education at both the doctoral and postdoctoral level. This strong commitment to graduate and professional education continued into the later part of the 20th century to the present, with the department now embracing an equally strong commitment to research and scholarship.

It was during this modern period that the department’s research began to garner national and international recognition, with particular prominence in the areas of brain injury and repair and glial cell biology. With a dedicated, diverse faculty and state-of-the-art core facilities, the department’s training opportunities supported a new generation of investigators who went on to establish their own respected research programs.

Presently, the research efforts of the department have had a wide footprint, with many of the department’s alumni now serving as senior faculty, department chairs, center directors and deans throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is the department’s hope to continue in this tradition, while continuing its core mission of excellence in the provision of both professional and graduate education.