On 4th April 1460, the grand opening of the University took place in the Cathedral of Basel. Casper Bauhin was the first Professor Ordinarius, and in 1589 was appointed Chair of Anatomy (and Botany); a "Theatrum anatomicum" and a "Hortus medicus" were established.

It is reported that in the 16th Century a number of individual dissections were carried out. These however were mainly concerned with analysis, and were not open to the public. They served primarily as further training for doctors and surgeons.

The presence of Andreas Vesal in Basel during 1543 was an extremely important event in the development of the Institute of Anatomy. Vesal had come to Basel in order to supervise the publication of his epochalen work "De humani corporis fabrica, Libri septum".

Beginning on 12th May 1543, and over the following days, Vesal carried out a public dissection on the body of an executed prisoner (whose skeleton, the oldest authenticated anatomical exhibit in the world, is a centre piece in the Museum of Anatomy). Following this, it is reported that further dissection and analyses of corpses took place, under the supervision of various professors of medicine.

Since then, a total of 36 Professors have served as Head of the Institute of Anatomy, Basel. Their names, in sequence, are provided in the following table.