The Open Anatomy Project

Democratizing medical knowledge

Please vote!

The Brigham Research Institute at Brigham and Women's Hospital is holding a world wide vote to fund a BWH research project, and the Open Anatomy Project is a finalist! Your vote will help secure funding to help develop anatomy atlases for medical education in Senegal, Mauritania, and Mozambique. Voting ends November 7. Tell your colleagues and friends!

right hemisphere of brain

Free anatomy atlases

Medical knowledge is so important, and so useful, it should be free and available to everyone. Open Anatomy is a research project at the Surgical Planning Lab in the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Using medical imaging data and open source software developed through funding from the National Institutes of Health, we are developing new ways to deliver rich digital anatomy atlases to students, doctors, researchers, and the general public. Project overview

Open Anatomy Browser view of brain

making data public

Over the past twenty-five years, we have worked together with hundreds of physicians, scientists, and engineers from all over the world to apply the power of medical imaging to patient care and the understanding of disease. The goal of the Open Anatomy Project is to pool anatomical information from groups like ours with thousands of other medical institutions, individual doctors, and other contributors to create a comprehensive collection of detailed atlases, all available to the public. History of the project

Meeting with Senegal's Ambassador to Spain and Surgeon General
Meeting with Senegal's Ambassador to Spain and Surgeon General.

where it is needed most

Through an international collaboration, we are working closely with colleagues in Spain and African countries to bring Open Atlas technology into medical classrooms in Senegal and Mozambique in order to train the next generation of African doctors.

We need to adapt our current atlases and software to meet their teaching needs. We have to translate the atlases into French and Portugese. And we need to make our software robust enough to work in locations with limited network connections. More about the collaboration

TAViewer screen shot

our goal

We want to change the anatomy atlas the same way that Wikipedia revolutionized the encyclopedia. Our long term goal is to create a non-profit foundation with the mission to foster the collaborative development and dissemination of free, open, and multilingual anatomical information.

Until then, we are building a community to create new atlases, make existing atlases better, write new software such as viewers and collaboration tools, and develop teaching materials that use the atlases.


We currently have five anatomy atlases available, all developed by the Surgical Planning Lab and our collaborators. They include a detailed brain model based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an inner ear atlas created from a high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scanner, and atlases of the knee, head and neck, and the abdomen.

These atlases are viewed using the Open Anatomy Browser (OABrowser), a prototype web-based tool that runs in a web browser. Currently, desktop/laptop versions of the Chrome, Firefox, and Safari web browsers are supported. We have plans to create an atlas viewer that is mobile friendly. Technical details


TAViewer heart entry


We've developed a web app called TAViewer to explore how to centralize the medical information scattered around Wikipedia, Gray's Anatomy, and other online sources of medical knowledge. We plan to combine TAViewer and OABrowser to produce an atlas-based graphical index of anatomical knowledge. Browse the heart
3D Slicer view of brain

3D Slicer

Our research group created 3D Slicer, a leading open source cross-platform medical imaging analysis and visualization platform. Slicer is developed by a world-wide open source community. We have used it to produce all of our current atlases. We are working to add one-click atlas export to Slicer and other medical software. More about 3D Slicer


The Open Anatomy Project would not be possible without the consistent and generous support of the National Insitutes of Health, which has the funded multiple research projects in medical image computing that have produced outstanding data sets and open source software.

In particular, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) before it has funded the Neuroimaging Analysis Center (NAC) at Brigham and Women's Hospital to develop new imaging and software technologies to understand the brain. The SPL/NAC brain atlas is the direct result of this longstanding funding.

How you can help

We are actively seeking technical assistance, medical collaborators, and financial sponsorship for continued development of the Open Anatomy Project, specifically of its education and charitable mission. We are also extremely interested in collaborating to create new atlases, or to publish data that could be turned into an atlas. If you are interested in learning more about the project and how you can help, please contact us.