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Professor Paul M. Rea

Professor Paul M. Rea

Professor of Digital and Anatomical Education (Life Sciences Human Life Sciences)



Paul is a Professor of Digital and Anatomical Education at the University of Glasgow. He is qualified with a medical degree (MBChB), a MSc (by research) in craniofacial anatomy/surgery, a PhD in neuroscience, the Diploma in Forensic Medical Science (DipFMS), and an MEd (Learning and Teaching in Higher Education).

He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB), Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, professional member of the Institute of Medical Illustrators (MIMI) and a registered medical illustrator with the Academy for Healthcare Science.

Paul has published widely and presented at many national and international meetings, including invited talks. He is editor for the Biomedical Visualisation series, part of Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology with Springer Nature, a member of the Executive Editorial Committee for the Journal of Visual Communication in Medicine, associate editor for the European Journal of Anatomy and reviews for almost 30 different journals/publishers.

He is the Public Engagement and Outreach lead for anatomy coordinating collaborative projects with the Glasgow Science Centre, NHS, and RCPSG.

His research involves a long-standing strategic partnership with the School of Simulation and Visualisation, The Glasgow School of Art. This has led to multi-million pound investment in creating world leading 3D digital datasets to be used in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching to enhance learning and assessment. This successful collaboration resulted in the creation of the world’s first taught MSc Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy combining anatomy and digital technologies.

This degree, now into its eighth year, has graduated almost 100 people, and created college-wide, industry, multi-institutional and NHS research linked projects for students. Paul is the Programme Director for this degree.

Research and Teaching Interests

Paul is the Programme Coordinator for the MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy, in collaboration with colleagues at the School of Simulation and Visualisation, The Glasgow School of Art. In this taught postgraduate degree, he combines the florid history of anatomy with modern day anatomical practice. Training in this degree not only focuses on the anatomy of the human body but the history of anatomical practice and related legislation. In trains our next generation of students in how to use and apply digital technologies in creating animations, using and applying 3D printing, 3D reconstructions and use platforms like photogrammetry and virtual and augmented reality, as well as haptic technologies, to view and interact with biological and historical datasets. This data can come from CT or MRI scanning, or even confocal microscopy.

Recent projects for the MSc in Medical Visualisation and Human Anatomy have focused on a variety of areas like creating interactive games, tutorials and educational materials around applied anatomy and surgery through to the more historical side of anatomy.

From the medical humanities perspective, several fields have been examined in developing material for virtual museums of modern day and historical anatomical and pathological specimens.

A variety of imaging modalities and software packages have been used to capture the anatomical and pathological specimens to enable a digital record to be created. We have used photogrammetry in capturing modern and historical anatomy and pathology specimens, and determining suitable options for dry specimens and those in jars with preservative fluids for optimal visualisation.

Creation of interactive 3D digital material from image capture of anatomy/pathology specimens using object VR (object VR), Adobe Pro XI, Meshlab, Agisoft Photoscan, Autodesk Recap, Autodesk Memento, and embedding material into interactive PDFs or Sketchfab has enabled a revolutionary approach. These techniques could be used in the creation of a virtual museum.

Paul also has developed a longstanding Collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and previously the Open University in creating a digital record and presentation of historical surgical instruments of international significance for inclusion in an online learning module entitled “Medicine and Society in Europe, 1500-1930”. This work was undertaken by applying photogrammetry of the collection held by the RCPSG of internationally important historical surgical instruments. This was done by using digital software tools in the creation of an online record to enhance professional and public engagement with historically significant surgical instruments.

Paul would be delighted to hear from potential collaborators and potential areas for projects, as all ideas are warmly welcomed.




  • College of MVLS, School of Life Sciences