Anatomical Donation Program

Give the gift of knowledge

The Anatomical Donation Program supports the education of health professionals, and scientific research at the University of California and beyond.

Each year, nearly a thousand Californians make extraordinary gifts to the university by donating their bodies, or a loved one's body, to support the education of health professionals and to further scientific research.

The university recognizes the value and importance of anatomical donations and is committed to ensuring that they are treated with great care and respect.

Anatomical donations may be studied immediately or may be preserved for use at a later date in anatomical preparations, including dissections and skeletal preparations.

As you consider the option of donating your body to science, know that the need is great and your gift will be honored and valued. Your donation will play a critical role in helping students master the complex anatomy of the human body and will provide scientists with essential tools that benefit communities now and in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is body donation important?

Body donation is a valued and respected gift used to train health care students and professionals. Your gift can provide resources for research that improves the health and lives of people for generations to come.

Why donate to the University of California?

The University of California is a recognized recipient of whole body donations in the state of California. We train students and physicians that live and work in your community. UC operates 17 health professions schools and five medical centers. We support the California State University and California Community College systems as well as educational, health care and industry partners throughout California and beyond.

How does one donate to the University of California?

Contact the program nearest you and request a registration packet. Complete the registration forms, return them to the program and a donor card will be mailed to you, documenting your wishes.

Are there any circumstances where a donation may be refused?

Some medical conditions, such as contagious diseases and extreme emaciation or obesity, can render a body unacceptable for scientific study. Additionally, certain circumstances of death may preclude donation. A final decision can only be made at the time of death. Therefore, it is important that a survivor knows of these possibilities and is aware of the donors’ alternate disposition plans.

How will a donated body be used?

Donations are integral to a wide range of educational, research and clinical pursuits, including gross anatomy instruction and neurological, anatomical and scientific research. Some anatomical materials are used for surgical procedural training, allied health education, forensic research and training, mortuary science education and the development and testing of new medical devices such as joint prosthesis.

Can a donation be revoked if the donor changes their mind?

A donor can revoke a donation in writing at any time prior to death. After death, the donation cannot be revoked by survivors nor can they change any term or condition of the donation.

Is any payment received when a body is donated?

No payment may be made in connection with a body donation. This is the policy of the University of California set in accordance with state and federal law.

What is the final disposition of a body donated to the University of California?

After studies are completed, donations are typically cremated and cremated remains are scattered at sea. Cremated remains are not returned for private disposition. The university reserves the right to change the terms of disposition to any other legal method of disposition.

Is a memorial service conducted?

Yes. Each program, on an annual basis, assists its medical students in planning a memorial service to honor donors.

Will my family receive a report of medical findings or study details?

No, we do not provide reports to donor family. Certified copies of death certificates can be obtained through the Department of Birth & Death Registry in the county in which the death occurred.