Dr. Zumpano in a classroom instructing students

Meet Dr. Michael Zumpano

Professor, director of anatomy center and Anatomical Gift Program

When Michael Zumpano, Ph.D., D.C., was thinking about grad school, a degree in chiropractic wasn’t on his radar. An interest in attending medical school led him to the State University of New York in Buffalo, where other areas of interest became obvious. 

“I really enjoyed human evolution and adaptations,” he says. “That’s what put me on the path to my Ph.D. in anthropology.” The result of his diverse interests? Today, he is one of a small group of chiropractors in the world who first earned a doctorate in another field.

An interest in physical anthropology led to a focus on comparative anatomy, and then to a thesis that included constructing the first ever three-dimensional model of fetal craniofacial growth in the pigtailed macaque monkey. 

Vital elements at Northeast.

Zumpano’s focus on comparative anatomy led to a broad range of jobs. He has held positions at Chatham College, was offered a teaching position at Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, did a post-doctoral stint at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and even co-wrote a paper with surgeon and politician Ben Carson, M.D. 

In 1999, Zumpano came to Northeast College of Health Sciences, where he is director of the anatomy center and the College’s Anatomical Gift Program. Also a professor at the College, Zumpano has instructed most of the chiropractors in the region. 

The Anatomy Center and Anatomical Gift Program, he says, are vital components of the College’s evidence-based curriculum. “Learning anatomy from cadavers is and always will be the gold standard of learning human anatomy,” he says. “Learning anatomy isn’t just pointing to and identifying structures. It is the ability to understand depth, pathways, and three-dimensional relationships.”

Working with cadavers gives students the opportunity to feel nerves as they run through fascial planes and muscles, Zumpano says, and helps students develop their palpation skills. These, in turn, become the primary mode through which the future doctors diagnose, treat, and heal. 

Ever better, ever forward. We are always looking to improve learning for the student.

A Few Questions With Director of the Anatomy Center Michael Zumpano:

You've been at Northeast for 23 years. What, in your opinion, does the school do best? 

Ever better, ever forward. We are always looking to improve learning for the student. The program's uniqueness is usually cited by students as being able to learn your first chiropractic adjustment early in the first year. I agree with that but would also add that we have a world-class faculty that makes teaching adjusting that early in the curriculum possible.

What are your thoughts on the addition of technology at Northeast such as the Anatomage table and the force-sensing table technology? How do these enhance the learning experience?

They are excellent adjunctive tools that allow the student to take what they have learned in the cadaver lab into the library and enhance their learning.

How important is the Anatomical Gift Program to the learning experience at Northeast?

Leaving your body as a legacy to the College gives students a visceral experience that helps them learn how to heal through doing. It powerfully prepares them for life as working professionals.

Chiropractic is a healing art centered around touch. Should we not learn through media that allows us to touch and feel the structures we are aiming to help through palpating and delivering an adjustment through the skin?

You also have a private practice—how do you manage your time?

Running a private practice is hard, but you learn to develop systems that make you efficient.  I have no staff and no front desk. I embraced technology and made it work for my part-time practice. A clinician here once told our class of his journey and my takeaway from his story was that chiropractic is most busy in the morning and evening. So, I schedule at night after teaching hours and work all day Sunday. Hence, no conflict with my primary responsibilities at the College.