Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine

Anatomy is the oldest medical science. It has attracted scientists like Hippocrates, Aristotle or Galen, and artists like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. It was not mentioned in the inception of the work of Belgrade’s Faculty of Medicine though, in 1905, but the “Great War” (WWI) delayed the commencement of the entire Faculty’s work. So, Dr. Drago Perovic was assigned to be the professor of anatomy, but he never made it. At a surgeons’ congress in France, one of the Faculty’s founders, Dr. Vojislav Subotic met Dr. Niko Miljanic and offered him the position of associate professor of anatomy, which he accepted, so he was tasked with the courses of descriptive and topographic anatomy in 1920. The first exams were held in 1922. Professor Miljanic invited the then surgeon of the military hospital in Skoplje, Dr. Branko Sljivic, to become his assistant and, subsequently, he became an assistant professor in 1932. By Decree of the Royal Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, anatomy was divided into two parts and Professor Miljanic was assigned to teach applied anatomy, while Dr. Sljivic took over the descriptive and topographic anatomy. This remained until Second World War and the April bombing of 1941. Dr. Miljanic returned to his birthplace of Banjani, in Montenegro, to establish a military hospital. He dedicated his work to surgery afterwards. He died in Mexico City, during a congress.

After the war, the Institute returned to its present-day building, constructed 1920-1928 for its needs according to the blueprint brought from Paris by Professor Miljanic. Professor Sljivic was the only Dean of the Medical Faculty among the anatomy professors and also a member of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts.

Afterwards, during the sixties of the previous century, the Institute got reinforced in terms of staffing, with Professors Sinisa Radojevic, Marjan Boskovic, Slavoljub Jovanovic, Branislav Negovanovic, Neva Lotric, Vladislav Savic, Dragoslav Bogdanovic, Vera Lolic-Draganic, Tatjana Domnic-Stosic and many others. In the following years, the Institute was joined by Doctors Aleksandar Ilic, Nadezda Jelicic and Dragan Mrvaljevic. Since 2006, the Institute bears the name of its founder, Dr. Niko Miljanic, upon the accepted proposal of the then Director of the Institute, Professor Dr. Vidosava Radonjic, based on the original idea of Professor Dr. Laszlo Puskas. Under the auspices of the Dean, academician Dr. Bogdan Djuricic, a plaque dedicated to Professor Miljanic was set on the Institute’s building, in the presence of the Regent Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic.

Initially, the anatomy course lasted for two years, four semestres,  both theory and practice, until the year 1947/48, when it assumed a three-semestre format. Since 2004 it has been two semestres at the first year of studies, with almost the same number of classes. Professors used to draw on the blackboards for the students to follow and copy the drawings, and in 2002 digital equipment was introduced. Professor Dr. Branislav Filipovic developed a proposal for computing classroom, approved by the Faculty’s management in 2004. Classes are now held in those premises in small discussion groups.

In the beginning, students did all the dissection themselves, and now their teaching assistants and demonstrators prepare the cadaver material and devices for them to have practical exercises. Since 2003-2005, when a new ventilation system was introduced, the detrimental effect of formalin and other noxious evaporations has been significantly reduced. The Department took a strong position that dissection is very important for the practical training of students and that they should be enabled to do it by themselves again. In order to ensure sufficient supply of cadaver material, measures have been taken since 1996, including donor cards for posthumous bequeathal of organs.

Nowadays, students attend 270 anatomy classes in both semestres of the first year. In the first semestre, they receive 60 classes of lectures, then 15 in the computing room and 60 practical exercises of dissection and osteology. In the second semestre of integrated academic studies, they have 45 classes of lectures, 30 seminar classes (15 in the computing room and 15 in discussion groups) and 60 classes of practical exercises.

Students sit for three colloquia before they take the final exam. They can also opt for optional courses of anatomy, at the first or third year of studies. The optional courses for the first year are:

  • Anatomy in every-day clinical practice
  • Section anatomy 1
  • Section anatomy 2
  •  Virtual anatomy

And for the third:

  • The morphological and functional aspects of heart work
  • The anatomy of head, neck and central nervous system in every-day clinical practice.

The examination consists of practical part and oral exam. In the end of each year, between 72 and 78% of all students pass the examination.