Dissecting Consent: Exploring the Use of Human Bodies in Medicine Through Time

What happens to bodies used in medical research? How far have we come since the days of mass grave robbing? Where will we go in the future? Join us to explore all these questions and more!

This exhibition – curated by MA students at the University of Leeds with the help of the Wellcome Collection digital collection – takes a trip through time to explore all the ways human remains have been used in medical research.

With a focus on specific case studies, such as the story of Henrietta Lacks, Dissecting Consent unravels the shifts in ethics that have brought us to where we are now, and where we might go in future. Beginning in history with grave robbing and travelling through modern day to finish with the potential of the future with robots and other new technologies.

View the different stages of attitudes and ethics towards medical research and consent, to help you evaluate and uncover your own view of this tumultuous topic. Look at issues of consent, of bodily autonomy and weigh up the benefits of medical advancement against the horrors of the way the research was conducted.

How, if at all, should we use human remains in medical research?

Visit the online exhibition

Dissecting Consent: Exploring the Use of Human Bodies in Medicine Through Time is part of a wider series of exhibitions and projects undertaken by MA students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as part of an Interpretations course module.


The interior of a dissecting room: five students and/or teachers dissect a cadaver. Photograph, ca. 1900 (?). Wellcome CollectionPublic Domain Mark.