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Daniel Graney, PhD, professor emeritus, Department of Biological Structure, UW School of Medicine, passed away Jan. 10, 2023.

Graney was a dedicated educator who taught human anatomy, neuroanatomy, histology and embryology. He educated generations of doctors, researchers, dentists and nurses and other healthcare professionals in surgery, ophthalmology, urology and bioengineering throughout the UW School of Medicine and Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WWAMI) region.

His undergraduate studies were at UC Berkeley, and he received a PhD in anatomy from UC San Francisco. In 1966, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in anatomy at Harvard Medical School, he joined the Department of Biological Structure at the UW School of Medicine. His early research in cell biology emphasized the fine structure of intestinal epithelium, which play a role in digestion and gut health. At the time of his retirement in 2013, he was teaching the grandchildren of his early students.

Committed to medical education

Graney’s enthusiastic commitment to medical education was exceptional and recognized with numerous teaching awards. So many, in fact, that he became a Teacher Superior in Perpetuity and UW retired him from competing for further awards.

As director of the Willed Body Program for several decades, he supported thousands of students across the state in programs of anatomical education. He became president of the American Association for Clinical Anatomists (AACA) and received the R. Benton Adkins, Jr. Distinguished Service Award for his tireless efforts locally, nationally and internationally to promote the highest level of anatomical education through teaching and research. He attributed much of his success to the support of his wife, Carol, and sons, Steve and Don, and his motivation to his brothers: Jack, who was killed in the Korean War, and Don, who was killed while serving in Vietnam. He mentioned how their sacrifice inspired his intense dedication to the education of healthcare professionals.

Graney was popular with students and known for well-organized lectures closely linked to laboratory dissection. His dissection skills are legendary. He is still known as the “man with the golden scissors.” What students remember most about Graney, though, is his warm, reassuring style as a teacher. His humor shined through in anecdotes frequently based on experiences raising his family.

He was able to bring together the subjects of human anatomy, neuroanatomy and embryology and connect them with examples of clinical medicine that students would see in their patients. While the massive amount of information in human anatomy can seem overwhelming or even intimidating, he created a comfortable learning environment where students felt free to make mistakes, admit their concerns and seek his guidance with their intense studies.

Read The Seattle Times obituary. If you would like to donate to support scholarships in honor of Graney’s legacy, please contact Cathy Reilly in UW Medicine Advancement at