FIPAT - About

The Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology (FIPAT), represents one of the seven programmatic areas of interest of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA), the world body of Anatomy. FIPAT develops, publishes and maintains the set of international standard terminologies of human anatomical sciences, the IFAA Terminologies. The official terminology is in Latin, but FIPAT also publishes English equivalents and encourages the IFAA Member Societies to publish translations of the IFAA terminologies in other languages.

The IFAA was founded in 1903 and its membership comprises anatomical societies and associations worldwide. It represents and coordinates all aspects of the human anatomical sciences. The membership of FIPAT reflects the international nature of the IFAA.

FIPAT is a successor of the International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee (IANC, 1950-1989), the IFAA nomenclature committee that produced five editions of Nomina Anatomica approved by the IFAA General Assembly, and the Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology (FCAT, later called FICAT, 1989-2009), which produced the first IFAA Terminologiae. FCAT was established by IFAA, and later broadened into a more inclusive programme (FIPAT), to ensure democratic input into the terminology from all IFAA Member Societies.

FIPAT is an international cohort of experts gathered together under IFAA auspices to provide and update an agreed upon and vetted collection of terminologies that are used first, as the official nomenclature (international standard) for the anatomical sciences including the greater clinical realm and its offshoots and secondly, for those in the general public (e.g., writers, journalists) who wish to use precise, meaningful, and academically agreed upon anatomical terminology. This vocabulary serves as the basis of communication in the anatomies and should strive to be nimble and adaptive so as to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving world of medicine, biomedicine, and health-related professions. FIPAT aims to increase the use of the Terminologies by insuring they are simple and easy to use.

In addition, the following points should be kept in mind:

  1. FIPAT must be contributed to and represented by a wide range of individuals from IFAA Member Societies.
  2. Communication within FIPAT must be clear, expedited, and diplomatic.
  3. FIPAT must maintain sovereignty of the anatomical terminologies but work closely with other international groups having interests in anatomical nomenclature with the overall goal of providing clear communication within the anatomical sciences on a global scale.
  4. FIPAT must facilitate the acceptance of newer editions of IFAA Terminologies so that regular updates can be made available periodically.
  5. The terminologies of FIPAT should be considered ‘living documents’ that can be updated at regular intervals and formalized at IFAA World Congresses.

Together, these goals will increase the visibility of FIPAT within the IFAA and internationally among other groups with interest in anatomical terminology.

The central body of IFAA’s Programme for Anatomical Terminologies is the Committee of the Whole, which includes the Chair of FIPAT, the Secretary of FIPAT, the Chairs of FIPAT Subcommittees, the Coordinators of the Working Groups, and the FIPAT Advisors (voting members of the subcommittees and working groups). Subsets of the members of the Committee of the Whole constitute the memberships of the FIPAT Council, Subdiscipline Working Groups and FIPAT subcommittees (see below). All positions in FIPAT are appointed by the IFAA Executive Committee on the recommendation of the Chair of FIPAT.

The programme is larger than FIPAT’s Committee of the Whole. Nomenclature committees and individual members of IFAA Member Societies can send comments about the IFAA terminologies to the Secretary of FIPAT. The Subdiscipline Working Groups and FIPAT subcommittees utilize external experts (“consultants”), who are generally belong to IFAA Member Societies.

FIPAT Council is a planning group that allows for more efficient communication within FIPAT. It is composed of the FIPAT Chair (who chairs the council), FIPAT Secretary, Chairs of the subcommittees and Coordinators of the working groups.

The current set of subdiscipline Working Groups are: Gross and Clinical Anatomy; Microscopic Anatomy; Embryology; Neuroanatomy; Oral Anatomy and Physical Anthropology. Each working group is composed of a coordinator, at least ten members (who are also FIPAT advisors), and as many consultants (non-voting members of the working group) as the working group deems beneficial.

Each working group is charged with generating a draft of the relevant IFAA terminology, and with revising the draft for publication after consideration of comments from other members of FIPAT, and representatives of the IFAA Member Societies. After approval of the revised draft by the IFAA Executive Committee, the revised draft is published online, pending adoption by the next IFAA General Assembly.

The official terms in all IFAA terminologies are in Latin. They form the basis for anatomical terms in vernacular languages. Accordingly, it is necessary that the official Latin terms are universal, consistent and definitive.

Overview of responsibilities: The central function of the LSC is to provide expert, authoritative advice on the Latin anatomical terms in all IFAA terminologies.

Functions: to advise FIPAT on Latin vocabulary and grammar; to advise FIPAT working groups on revision of existing Latin terms, and on creation of new Latin terms; and to review IFAA terminologies to identify potential errors in word selection, spelling and grammar.

LSC members: should be familiar with human anatomical sciences; should have expertise in Latin anatomical nomenclature; and should be familiar with classical Latin vocabulary and grammar. Some members should have expertise in ancient Greek anatomical vocabulary.

The IFAA terminologies are the international standard for use in biomedical sciences and medical practice to facilitate clear communication. The IFAA terminologies are published online.

Overview of responsibilities: The aim of the ISC is to increase the use and usefulness of the IFAA terminologies.

Functions: to advise FIPAT on its websites and publication of the terminologies; to assist subdiscipline working groups with preparation of files and construction of hierarchies; to advise FIPAT on development of an authoritative anatomical ontology; and to advise FIPAT on development of software for use in translation of the Latin terms.

ISC members: should be familiar with human anatomical sciences; should be familiar with development of computer applications and databases; and should have expertise in at least on these two fields. Some members should have experience constructing an anatomical ontology.

R. Shane Tubbs
Chair, FIPAT
January 2020


International Federation of Associations of Anatomists

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