UAB graduate built an anatomy study hub for her master’s degree. Now in med school, she is putting it to use.

Hunter Caroline Davies will receive her master’s degree in anatomical science at UAB’s summer commencement Aug. 11. But she is already back in the classroom as part of the Heersink School of Medicine’s class of 2027.
Written by: Matt Windsor
Media contact: Micah Hardge

inside Hunter Caroline Davies 230810 003 9105Photography: Andrea MabryLast month, Hunter Davies joined the class of 2027 as a first-year student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. On Friday, Aug. 11, she will graduate with her Master of Science degree in anatomical science.

Davies, who goes by Caroline, already has a head start in her studies, however. As a research project for her master’s degree, Davies and Associate Professor Inga Kadisha, Ph.D., built multiple digital tools to help students grasp the complex structures of the body.

Their first creation, a study tool for the Virtual Interactive Brain Atlas, or VIBA, includes more than 1,500 PowerPoint slides and more than 500 practice problems that can be navigated interactively. It was incorporated into anatomy education for UAB undergraduates and dental and optometry students in the spring 2023 semester, with positive feedback from students. Over the summer — with help from Kristina Visscher, Ph.D., and Pinar Demirayak, Ph.D., in the UAB Department of Neurobiology — Davies and Kadisha have added an MRI component to the tool. This fall, as Davies begins med school, second-year medical students at UAB will find the tool integrated into the curriculum for their neuroscience module.

On July 14, Davies and Kadisha launched the Virtual Anatomy Lab, which opened their work up to the entire campus. The SharePoint site connects their VIBA study tool with a wide range of other in-house and external resources, including textbooks, histology slides, study guides, and links to helpful sites, quizzes, podcasts and YouTube videos. The site will continue to evolve over time.

stream Hunter Caroline Davies 230810 006 9137Photography: Andrea MabryDavies, a Birmingham native who received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at Austin, returned home for UAB’s master’s program in biomedical and health sciences. That sparked her interest in anatomy, which led her to the Anatomical Science program for her second graduate degree. Now that she is starting medical school, does Davies see herself using the Virtual Anatomy Lab? “I absolutely see myself using the resource as a medical student, and I am excited to have it offered as a free resource to all UAB students,” she said.

Anatomy is a core pillar in professional school education, notes Kadisha, who besides teaching anatomy has a research focus on aging and Alzheimer’s disease in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology. “It is our hope that the students will find Virtual Anatomy Lab to be a useful study tool, where in one place they can search for a wide variety of anatomy-related resources,” Kadisha said.

“We would love the site to be reached by both students and faculty,” Davies added. “Ultimately, we aim for this new website to help students continue to grow their knowledge of anatomy as well as be able to access a variety of sources that will cater to each student’s unique learning style.”