University of Minnesota  Administrative Policy

Procuring, Using, and Disposing of Donated Human Bodies Used for Research and Teaching

Policy Statement

This policy applies to research and education requiring access to any deceased human body or body part. It does not apply to tissue samples or specimens from living persons.

Research and Education with Deceased Human Bodies or Body Parts

University employees desiring to procure a deceased human body or body part ("donated body") must make a request through the Anatomy Bequest Program (ABP), the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, or a University of Minnesota tissue procurement organization such as the Minnesota Lion's Eye Bank, the University of Minnesota Blood Cord Bank or a tissue facility within the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Educators or researchers interested in receiving human anatomical specimens for medical education or research from the ABP or an external procurement organization must complete an ABP proposal. The ABP Proposal Review Committee must approve each submitted proposal prior to human anatomical specimen access. The use of donated bodies is regulated by the 2007 Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. As required by the Act, the University must ensure that individuals who donate bodies or body parts give informed consent to use these remains for research or education. The Anatomy Bequest Program has mechanisms for verifying that tissue procurement organizations have lawful practices in place.

When using donated bodies in research and educational activities, University employees and students must comply with federal and state regulations, and the wishes of donors. The donated body must be used as originally intended. If the employee or student wishes to use it for another purpose, they must contact the procurement organization that provided the donated body to verify that the additional use will not conflict with their contractual obligations. Donated human anatomical specimens used for education and research must be retained by the educator or researcher only for the amount of time necessary to complete the study. Educators and researchers must comply with the timeframe in which the human anatomical donation can be studied, cremated and the cremated remains returned to next-of-kin/authorizing person.

Regardless of where the donated body or body part was procured, University employees and students must notify the ABP when the research or teaching activity is complete. The donated body or body part must be disposed of according to the Minnesota Department of Health Mortuary Science Section regulations, Environmental Health and Safety policies and the wishes of the next-of-kin/authorizing person. The Anatomy Bequest Program ensures that final disposition complies with all of the above requirements.

This policy excludes the procurement, use, and disposition of tissues or body parts from living donors. The policy does not address the procurement or use of excess in vitro fertilization human embryos or embryonic stem cells or stem cell lines derived from such embryos, which are addressed in Administrative Policy: Conducting Research with Human Embryos or Embryonic Stem Cells.

Researchers engaging in human fetal tissue research, must follow either Administrative Policy: Procuring and Using Human Fetal Tissue for Transplantation Research or Administrative Policy:  Procuring and Using Human Fetal Tissue for Research (Non-Transplantation).

Reason for Policy

The reason for the policy is to comply with the law where applicable, demonstrate care and respect for the wishes of anatomical donors and of their families, and provide for the dignified disposition of bodies and body parts.

An additional reason for the policy is to create an official single unit responsible for the procurement, use and final disposition of anatomical donations used for medical education and research, therefore reducing the risk to the University.


Primary Contact(s)Angela McArthur612-625-0618[email protected]
PolicyAnatomical Bequest Program612-625-1111[email protected]
Deceased human body procurementAnatomical Bequest Program612-625-1111[email protected]
Bloodborne pathogen trainingDepartment of Environmental Health and Safety Biosafety and Occupational Health Training website
Responsible Individuals
Responsible Officer Policy Owner Primary Contact
  • Vice President for Clinical Affairs
  • Director, Anatomy Bequest Program
  • Angela McArthur
    Director, Anatomy Bequest Program



Disposal of the human specimen in the original container or original form. Disposal also applies to small quantities of human specimen or fetal tissue that are residual (often referred to as waste) or have been adulterated through use.

Disposition Records

An accurate, continuous and current record used to track the acquisition, use and disposal of a donated body or fetal tissue.

Human Fetal Tissue

Tissue, cells or organs obtained from a dead human embryo or fetus after a spontaneous or induced abortion or after a stillbirth. Human fetal tissue does not include tissue or cells obtained from a placenta, umbilical cord or amniotic fluid.

Donated Human Body

Any human body, whole body part, or organ from a cadaver.


Systematic investigation, including development, testing and evaluation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.


Activities that include classroom demonstrations, laboratory exercises and research projects that are required for completion of a course at the undergraduate, graduate or professional level.

Tissue Procurement Organization

An organization that is licensed to receive tissues or organs from donors.


University employee (faculty or researcher)

Contact ABP when a donated body is needed. Properly use and maintain disposition records of the donated body. Contact procurement facilitator (e.g., ABP or Eye Bank) if intended use of donated body changes. Contact ABP to dispose of the donated body.

Anatomy Bequest Program (ABP)

Facilitate donation of whole body donors. Maintain bequest database. Arrange for transporting and preparing donated bodies for studies. Inspect facilities. Maintain communication with next-of-kin. Arrange for cremation and disposition of human body remains.



April 2016 - Policy is expanded to cover the procurement, use, and disposition of human fetal tissue in research.


December 2013 - Comprehensive Review, Minor Revision - Includes phrasing enhancements in both the policy and procedure.


February 2006