Skip Navigation

The Virtual Human Embryo Project

The Virtual Human Embryo Project (VHE) was originally developed as a collaboration between embryologist Dr. Raymond Gasser at Louisiana State University Health Science Center (LSUHSC) and the Human Developmental Anatomy Center (HDAC) in Washington D.C. The overall aim of the project is to make the Carnegie collection, which is housed at the HDAC, accessible for research and teaching of human embryology. Dr. John Cork at LSUHSC joined the project at its inception as the software developer with a special interest in 3D-reconstruction. The project has two components, both of which are supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The Digitally Reproduced Embryonic Morphology (DREM) project is funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) to produce digital images of the serial sections from representative embryos in the Carnegie collection.

The HEIRLOOM Collection is funded by the National Library of Medicine to provide additional resources to make the DREM image databases more widely accessible.

Note from EHD

The Virtual Human Embryo (VHE) Project generated nearly 34 gigabytes of embryonic imagery encompassing all 23 stages of the human embryo. This $3.2 million, 11-year initiative tapped the world's largest collection of human embryos to identify, digitize, and catalogue some of the best serial sections of normal human embryos ever seen. These images were then reviewed and labeled by one of the leading embryologists of the last half century, and are now available to researchers and educators everywhere.

A quick glance at the project stats helps communicate the depth and breadth of what has been accomplished. The VHE Project has generated approximately:

  • 3,347 unique digitized microscopic sections, most of which are available in four levels of magnification for a total of 12,991 images.
  • 590 labeled figures, many with descriptions and high-resolution images.
  • 252 movies which include “fly-throughs,” animations, and three-dimensional reconstructions.

Congratulations are in order to Drs. Raymond Gasser and John Cork and all the other contributors from the Louisiana State University Health Science Center and the Human Developmental Anatomy Center in Washington D.C., who made the Virtual Human Embryo project possible. It is a crowning achievement and will be an invaluable tool for human embryology education and research for decades to come.

EHD is proud to host the VHE Project and does so with permission.


National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Grant #R01 HD37811

National Library of Medicine

Grant #R01 LM007591

Computer Imaging Lab, Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans

Principal Investigators -   Ray Gasser Raymond F. Gasser, Ph.D. (NICHHD),   R. John Cork, Ph.D. R. John Cork, Ph.D. (NLM)

Computer Imaging Technicians - Sandie Blanchard, Tinisha Monroe, Carol Thouron

Software Development - Zack St Onge

Student Interns - Jeff Claiborne, Dominique Coleman, Alice Cork, Erika Favorite, Kim Staci Green, Myranicka Coleman, Monica Herbert, Trey Perry, Amanda Roueche, Jeffrey Roussel, Rose Rowden, Julie Toups

Human Developmental Anatomy Center, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, D.C.

Director & Assistant PI -   Adrianne Noe Adrianne Noe, Ph.D. (NICHHD)

Project Manager -   Elizabeth Lockett Elizabeth Lockett

Image Capture - Austin Chang, Kumudini Mayur, Ph.D., Marjorie Shaw, Ph.D., Emily Wilson

Reconstructive 3-D Computer Modeling - William F. Discher, Elizabeth Lockett


Project Bibliography