State University of New York, Upstate medical universityMicroscopic Anatomy



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Microscopic Anatomy - General Information | general info | texts | exams, reviews & criteria | exam info | conduct code | staff | lab use |

General Information


The chief objective of this course is to provide the first-year medical student with a basic knowledge of the microscopic anatomy of the principal cells, tissues, and organs of the human body. This knowledge should facilitate the understanding of how these structures function in health and disease.


Histology is directly related to many other disciplines (e.g., cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, gross anatomy, neuroanatomy) and essential for the understanding of others (e.g., pathology). In this course we will train you to observe, analyze and interpret the structural patterns of tissues and cells in terms of their functional significance at the subgross, microscopic and ultrastructural levels. Emphasis will be placed on the functional units of organs and tissues because these often correspond to structural entities observable only at the microscopic level. The range of structural features that are possible within normal organs, tissues and cells throughout the life cycle will be highlighted to prepare students for the more complicated study of pathology and the patterns of disease.

Since the microscopic examination of biopsies and body fluids has become increasingly essential for the correct diagnosis of an illness, the monitoring of its progress and its response to therapy, the laboratory portion of this course will be weighted more heavily than the didactic portion.

By the end of this course we expect that you will have acquired the necessary background and practical skills to study pathology. We also believe that you will have expanded your working vocabulary and fund of factual information sufficiently to read and analyze many reports in medical journals.


The teaching of Microscopic Anatomy is carried out by lectures, reading assignments, and the study of microscopic slides in the laboratory.

  1. Lectures are given on each major topic. The lecturer will present either a survey of the topic or a detailed discussion of one or two aspects. Lack of time prevents complete coverage of all the subject matter in lectures.

  2. By reading the appropriate sections of the required or one of the recommended textbooks, you will obtain background and supplementary information on the topic.

  3. The study of microscopic slides in the laboratory is the third way in which the subject matter is presented. In addition to the required slides, optional and extra slides are available for you to study.

  4. Kodachrome transparencies have been made for you to review every laboratory exercise. A complete set of carousels is available in each of the five teaching laboratories. In addition, the carousel images will be posted on the course website.

  5. There are practice exams available on the course website. Each exam is designed to test your knowledge of the practical material. When appropriate, questions concerning the lecture material also are included. For the section exams, the images have been grouped by subject matter. For the comprehensive exams, the images have been presented in random order. These comprehensive exams may well contain questions regarding material that is no longer taught in Microscopic Anatomy. The computer exams are not required. They are simply another type of study aid that you may find beneficial.

  6. Digital video of the lectures will be posted on Blackboard, usually within 24 hours of the lecture presentation. If and when they are available, PowerPoint lecture presentations will also be posted on Blackboard.


  1. The teaching staff rotates through the laboratories. The instructors will assist you with your slide study, material covered in lectures, and reading assignments.

  2. Usually six slides are assigned in a laboratory period. Additional slides will be listed as optional. The student can look at these slides if and when he wants to supplement his knowledge. The optional slides, extra slides and Kodachromes may be useful for review when preparing to take a laboratory practical examination.


The syllabus contains lecture and laboratory notes as well as assignments for each unit covered in the course. In addition, each unit may include:

  • objectives (performance expectation) for laboratory work.

  • review questions - 1-10 per lecture and lab, with or without answers. These indicate what the particular instructor believes are the most important areas for you to know. Together, the review questions and objectives should provide you with a realistic guide to what each instructor deems important and what the instructor is likely to ask on an examination.

  • brief section indicating several of the major diseases or structural alterations as well as age-related changes that affect the tissue or organ under study. The general areas, cells, and organelles where observable structural alterations are likely to occur will be pointed out. The object is not to teach pathology or gerontology per se, but to alert you to vulnerable areas in tissues and cells. In so doing, we hope to emphasize the importance of learning normal histology.

S U N Y Upstate Medical University
Content maintained by: Nancy Dobbins
All contents copyright 2001, SUNY Upstate Medical University
Last Modified: March 3, 2011