About Autopsy Center of Chicago

The Autopsy Center provides compassionate, comprehensive, caring autopsy service for families in bereavement.

Casework is meticulous and interactions with families are warm and emotionally available. We work to transform the confusing into the clear; the uncertain into the manageable; the unknown into the known. The founder, Dr. Ben Margolis, received his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.D. from the University of Chicago.

The need for closure after a loss is powerful; and you have the right to ask questions. Talk to us about how we can help.

Read more About the Center….

Meet Dr. Ben Margolis, Director
(Click on video below)

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June 18, 2015. Monthly Case. What is the diagnosis? This month’s case is of an elderly man with hip pain. Was the cause of the pain arthritis or something else? Let us know your thoughts and stay tuned for a discussion of this case coming in July. View the case here.

June 17, 2015. Meeting the Man on the Table. Essay. Our tumor donation program has changed the emotional resonance of some of our cases. On the one hand, the purpose of the Tumor Donation autopsy is not for family closure, but to help find the cure for cancer. On the other hand, organizing Tumor Donation means we meet our patients while they are still living to discuss the donation process. Read Dr. Margolis’s reflection on this May’s Tumor Donation.

May 1, 2015 Autopsy Center talks Sounds of Death

View accompanying image here. Listen to a segment from this weeks Seminar with Dr. Margolis. Is this part of the process of dying? Should caretakers “do something” about it? Take a listen.

April 26, 2015 Museum Anatomical Gifts in 2015 Do you think families should be given the option of donating organs and tissue for a museum display? What are the ethics of this choice? Is informed consent sufficient? Tell us what you think. Read more here.Canopic Jars
April 11, 2015 Sleuth It with Autopsy Center. Case of Tendon Repair. Try your sleuthing skills and following along with this case discussion. Was this a “minor operation” unrelated to the loss? Did something more serious happen in the operating room? Or something else? Read more and post your thoughts here.

April 6, 2015 Legislative Update. HB4054 Coroner Training Board Act. Illinois’s new legislative initiative to improve coroner training standards is commendable. However, the bill incorporates a waiver process for experience that will slow the movement towards broad state-wide training standards. Summary opinion: Not ready for passage. Read the commentary here.

April 5, 2015 Monthly Case: Hypertensive Heart Disease This month’s case features an audio discussion recorded live at ourAutopsy Seminar on April 1, 2015.

Click here to listen and view case image.

March 21, 2015 Poem – “Mariner” Entering the body for an autopsy is a precise, medical procedure with scientific purpose. Nonetheless, the soul and spirit of this profound human experience float in the air of the autopsy suite. Journey into the body and into harrowing waters with Dr. Margolis’s poem “Mariner.” Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month.

February 14, 2015 Should you say “I’m sorry for your loss”? Not sure what to say when you meet someone right after they’ve suffered a loss? Worried about etiquette or what’s ok to share? You’re not alone — especially among young professionals. Read Dr. Margolis’s take on saying “I’m sorry for your loss” here.

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In the News

WSJ photo March, 2015 Dr. Margolis interviewed. “What Autopsies Can Teach”
The Wall Street Journal. By Melinda Beck. Read article.

LMM organ donation photoJanuary, 2015 “In Light Of Possible Abuse At Body Donation Centers, Experts Offer Advice.” Dr. Margolis interviewed on how families can protect themselves and their loved one when exploring body donation options. Life Matters Media. By Dan Gaitan. Read the complete article.

Life Media Matters logo
January, 2014. “Margolis pays special attention to the family’s story and concerns…. “I never really thought about what an autopsy can do for a family,” [an attendee at Science to Humanity: The Autopsy] said. “I never saw the emotional aspect.” Read the complete article written by Life Matters Media.

May, 2013 “…the top expert in Chicago” “…sensitive” “…impartial” Read about Dr. Margolis in the May, 2013 issue of Chicago Magazine, “This Is What Really Happens During an Autopsy.”

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10 Questions for Cancer. Autopsy Center is establishing a community-based Tumor Donation Program. Tumor Donation allows patients with cancer to donate their tumor to research and make a difference for the next generation. We appreciate your input as we undertake this important work. Let us know your thoughts by taking our 10-question survey. Thank you for participating.
10 Questions for Cancer


Please check back for listing of summer 2015 events.


From the Director’s Desk

June, 2015

Summer greetings from Autopsy Center.

Our work at the Center continues on a variety of levels.

Live from the Morgue.  We have begun a live, on-line educational program connecting high school class rooms with Autopsy Center of Chicago.  Students and teachers join us on-line to view Autopsy Center educational video footage while I and my staff narrate, engage the students and take Q & A.  Our first event at the end of May engaged sophomores and juniors at Barrington High School for an hour-long event.  Our patient families are fully consented for the taking and use of video footage.  It has been remarkable how forthcoming and willing families have been during their critical time to share their loved one’s autopsy experience for educational purposes.  It speaks to our families’ compassion, interest and commitment to “making a difference” for others; and comfort with the process.  To those families and patients who shared the gift of education – we thank you.  If you work with a high school and are interested in arranging a “Live from the Morgue” event, please contact us.  We will be continuing our pilot over the summer and then formalizing the program for the fall.

Tumor Donation Program.  We were honored to participate in another Tumor Donation this spring.  We coordinated in a planful way over many weeks with the patient and his family, home-health support staff (social work and nursing) and, ultimately hospice (Midwest Palliative Care) to seamlessly arrange Tumor Donation for research.  We reached out to the patient himself during his end-of-life; and met with him and his family to learn about their wishes to donate as well as to complete the authorization process.  This particular patient had received a transplanted organ some years prior, and part of his motivation was to help someone else by “giving back” through his own tissue donation.  Tumor tissue was provided immediately to cancer researchers across the country studying this patient’s particular type of tumor.  For more information about our Tumor Donation Program pilot please click here; or please contact us if you wish to arrange to donate.

i-Hotline.  Autopsy Center has a new i-Hotline through our website.  Look for the i-Hotline emblem on any page and click to chat with us in real-time over your laptop or hand-held device.  We are here to answer your questions and know they can come up quickly.  So feel free to call, or now you can click to chat on-line through our i-Hotline.  To read more about how it works, click here.

New on-line

Seminars at International Museum of Surgical Science.  Our seminar for the general public, Science to Humanity, will continue at the International Museum of Surgical Science.  We will soon be nearing 1,000 guests who have attended this acclaimed and thoughtful presentation on the autopsy and it’s meaning to families.  Please stay tuned for upcoming dates and join us at this historic near north museum.

Best for healthy and safe summer.



Ben Margolis, M.D.