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Dr. Gunther von Hagens completed his medical studies at the University of Lübeck in 1973. In 1974, he received his license to practice medicine before moving to the University of Heidelberg, where he finished his doctoral thesis as a resident in the Department of Anaesthetics and Emergency Medicine in 1975. He started an 18-year career as a resident and lecturer in the Institute of Pathology and the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Heidelberg in 1976.

In 1977, in the department of Anatomy at the University of Heidelberg, he invented plastination as a groundbreaking technology for preserving anatomical specimens with reactive polymers. The process was patented between 1978 and 1982. Also in 1978, Dr. von Hagens started his own company, BIODUR Products, which has since marketed special polymers and equipment for plastination. These products are currently exported to 400 institutions in 40 countries worldwide. Dr. von Hagens founded the Heidelberg-based Institute for Plastination in 1993, with the aim of developing plastinated specimens for educational use and for the BODY WORLDS exhibition, which had its premiere in Japan in 1995. He finalized his engagements at Heidelberg University in 1995 and accepted a visiting professorship at Dalian Medical University in China in 1996. That same year, he became the director of the plastination research centre at the State Medical Academy in Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan. He has since been active at both locations and in 2001 additionally founded a private company (the "Von Hagens Dalian Plastination Ltd.") in Dalian, China.

In 2004 Dr. von Hagens began a visiting professorship at the New York University College of Dentistry where he will help design the first non-dissection anatomy curriculum in the U.S. to use plastinated specimens exclusively as educational models.

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