Dr. Blaine Maley is the Chair of Anatomy at ICOM. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and an A.B. in Biochemistry from Bowdoin College. Prior to joining ICOM, he worked as an assistant professor of Anatomy at the Des Moines College of Osteopathic Medicine, followed by a four-year stint in Indiana as a founding faculty member at the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine as an Associate Professor in Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Maley brings eight years of experience teaching Anatomy at the osteopathic medical level, including his experience founding and assisting with Marian University COM’s path to full accreditation status.
Originally a product of Idaho and Boise High School, Dr. Maley is excited to be back in the Boise area after a 25 year hiatus, during which he called Maine, New Jersey, New York, Missouri, Iowa, and Indiana home. He has an active research program studying the origins and biology of the first Americans, and is currently involved in several international research collaborations including field sites in Bolivia and the Canadian Yukon. Looking to the future, Dr. Maley is eager to begin the process of unraveling the mystery of the unwritten history of the first Idahoans and the initial populating of the Northwest.
Q: What inspired you to become an anatomist?
A: After college, I was working in a foundry in Trenton, New Jersey, doing metal fabrication and sculpture, and I found all my artwork was trending to classical figurative work, and even more so into evolutionary ideas and early human history. I moved to New York City and began a stint at the American Museum of Natural History working on hominid fossil reconstructions for the museum displays. After doing that for a few years, I decided I wanted to do a Ph.D. in biological anthropology (human morphology and evolutionary history), so off I went to Washington University in St. Louis, where I did my Ph.D. in examining population relationships and gene flow among the North American Arctic peoples using cranial quantitative genetics. I loved anatomy from the start and knew that was the direction I wanted to go in terms of my professional teaching career.
Q: Why did you decide to work for ICOM?
A: I grew up in Boise and still have my family and friends here. So, my long term strategy to make it back home started about 10 years ago with my first academic job at Des Moines University. I was there for three years when several of my colleagues were moving to Indianapolis to start a new College of Osteopathic Medicine at Marian University (MUCOM) and asked if I would join them to help establish the anatomy program. Although I loved DMU, I figured Idaho would eventually start a medical school, and I wanted to position myself to have start-up experience so that I could be a useful and experienced choice for a new medical program. That said, the day I heard ICOM was announced, I reached out to Founding Dean Hasty and sent him my resume. The rest is history.
Q: You’ve been involved in some amazing research projects. Which one is your most memorable and why?
A: Ha, that’s a difficult question. They all have their elements of beauty and wonder of adventure, and the discomfort and imbalance of living in difficult environments off the grid. While working in southern France is by far the most pleasant (cheese and wine), the work I’ve done in Bolivia and Tanzania have been much more interesting from an adventure perspective. I spent one summer working on a small village, near the Salar de Uyuni in the Bolivian Altiplano. Living and working at nearly 14,000 feet above sea level was challenging, and the archaeology and cultural experience of living among the Quechua people was truly special and unforgettable.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: Sounds cliche, but the people I work with. I’ve really never worked with a more dedicated, open minded, and hard working group of faculty and staff. More specifically, the anatomy team is the best group of anatomists/people I’ve worked with. We have a lot of fun, and we work very hard as a team to make sure the students are getting the best anatomy education possible. Having the ability to build a program from the ground up has given us a great deal of flexibility to create, in my opinion, an anatomy program that is state-of-the-art and second to none.
Q: What advice do you have for ICOM’s student-doctors as they prepare to become physicians?
A: Learn to listen and make time for yourself to enjoy the journey.