'Digital microscopes' for dentistry course

ANN ARBOR---The conventional light microscope may soon become the next historical artifact found in the University of Michigan School of Dentistry's Gordon H. Sindecuse Museum. Dental students who have been using the device in some of their classes are now using the latest technology instead.

Dr. Carl Hanks, a professor in the Department of Oral Medicine, Pathology, and Oncology, and Dr. Nisha D'Silva, an assistant professor in the same department, have redesigned one course in the School's curriculum so that students will no longer need to use the device invented by Anton van Leeuwenhoek in the 17th century.

Hanks and D'Silva are developing a 21st century approach to learning histopathology. They are creating a "virtual textbook" that allows dental students to learn about pathology and histology in a novel way.

Using resources, including the World Wide Web, the School of Dentistry's intranet, and computer centers in the dental school and across the U-M campus, dental students use their laptop computers and high-speed Internet connections to view digital images of more than 50 different tissues.

The tissues have been collected from patients who have been treated for an array of maladies at School of Dentistry clinics since the 1940s and stored on slides. While the glass-mounted sections of actual tissues are helpful to demonstrate the appearance of oral diseases, they fade, crack, break, and dry out. Without an instructor present, they do not fully convey to a student the critical aspects of a disease process.

However, digital microscopy does. With their computers, dental students use their monitors as surrogate microscopes and view the enlarged images, which previously were on slides, in an electronic environment in low-, medium-, or high-powered resolution.

"This user-friendly approach is something our technically savvy dental students have come to expect and will increasingly demand in the future," said Dr. Th

Contact: Colleen Newvine
University of Michigan

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