Biographical / Historical
Robert Acland was born on June 20, 1941 to Sir Robert Thomas Dyke Acland and Anne Stella Alford in Exeter, England, who predeceased him, as did his older brother Sir John Dyke Acland.
Dr. Acland graduated from London Hospital Medical College in 1964 with a Bachelor in Medicine (MB). He received his MBBS from London University in 1969, completed internships in the UK and Tanzania, and residencies in plastic surgery in Glasgow (FRCS in 1969) and London (FRCS in 1970). He is credited with being a pioneer in plastic and reconstructive microsurgery. In 1976 Acland moved to Louisville to run the microsurgery lab of Kleinert and Kutz Hand Care Center In conjunction, he received a teaching appointment to the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Soon after, he developed one of the first microsurgical instruments, the Acland micro-vessel clamp, an instrument that allows surgeons to create a hole in a vessel for end-to-end anastomosis, as well as the 10-0 nylon sutures and needles that are still used today. He published the first edition of Acland's Practice Manual for Micro-vascular Surgery, also known as the "Red Book", a manual on microsurgical techniques in 1997.
From 1981 to 2011, he established and ran the Fresh Tissue Anatomy Dissection Laboratory for surgeons and students at the University of Louisville, which was the first of its kind in the United States. Beginning in 1993 and taking nine years to create, the comprehensive Video Atlas of Human Anatomy depicts moving structures—muscles, tendons, and joints—making the same movements that they make in life. The videos show complex structures, from bone to surface anatomy, to provide a foundation for understanding anatomical structure and function. He was a pioneer in developing new and highly effective techniques of anatomical videography that give the viewer a clear three-dimensional understanding of spatial relationships. He achieved a unique 3-D perspective using innovative camera rotation techniques that he pioneered with his colleagues at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. He also invented the many armatures and devices to enable the specimen to rotate along multiple axes.