Remembering Professor Lance Nash

Dedicated educator, researcher, and mentor

Professor Lance Nash, PhD (1961-2016)

It was with profound sadness that AUC announced the passing of Dr. Lance Nash, Professor of Anatomy and Chair of the Anatomy Department on September 15, 2016. Dr. Nash was a dedicated educator and mentor who spent more than a decade with AUC.

Before joining AUC, Dr. Nash spent many years as a health care professional in the field of Orthotics and Prosthetics, rising to the rank of Regional Manager for Wellington Capital Health. For more than decade, he practiced as a Clinical Orthotist in major New Zealand hospitals, working with medical and other paramedical professionals in numerous in-patient and out-patient clinics, especially in orthopaedics.

Dr. Nash earned a B.A. in Biological Anthropology and Developmental Psychology at Auckland University, and then completed graduate courses in Child Development and Counselling at Victoria University. After taking this range of courses, it was Anatomy, and gross Anatomy in particular, that really captured his interest. Hence, after completing a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Otago University School of Medicine, Dr. Nash entered the Ph.D. program.

In addition to being a celebrated teacher, Dr. Nash was a brilliant researcher. He had numerous manuscripts and publications to his name—many focused on plastination and confocal microscopy, which are used to examine the morphology and topography of the deep fascia of the head and neck. 

An illustration by Dr. Nash that was included in his thesis

Fourth-year student Frank Scali wrote in to share research that he and Dr. Nash have been collaborating on since his arrival to medical school in 2013. It was Dr. Nash’s extensive research, in fact, that inspired Scali to enroll at AUC.

“Dr. Nash provided me with his entire thesis and six CD-ROMs of his photography involved in his dissertation. He gave me permission to use what I wanted to progress this area of study. Together, we were able to publish two manuscripts. One manuscript, involving the Alar fascia, redefines the morphology of the retropharyngeal space, a concept that was not discussed since 1934 by Grodinsky and Holyoke first described it. The second redefines the entire cervical spine as his plastinates revealed many new communications between bone, muscle and the spinal cord. Together with my dissections, we were able to put this paper into Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology and The Spine Journal respectively. These studies will assist clinicians and surgeons with their work and the later also leads up to a new system that pumps fluid of the brain.” 

Dr. Nash’s interest and experience in generating new anatomical knowledge of clinical relevance enriched lectures and helped students understand the role of research in providing new insights of fundamental importance in Anatomy. This passion for teaching and his commitment to this community were evident in everything that he did.

His passing is a tremendous loss for the AUC community and a personal loss for many students. The university expresses its deepest condolences to Dr. Nash’s family, friends, and students.