William K. Ovalle, Professor Emeritus

Director of Histology (1977-2010)
Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Alberta, Edmonton)
Ph.D. (Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia)
B.Sc. (St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia)

Office:  604-822-3195
E-mail:  william.ovalle@ubc.ca

William Ovalle | UBC Experts Guide

Wikipage: Essential Histology

O v e r v i e w

Born in Panama, educated in the United States, William K. Ovalle joined the Department of Anatomy in 1972. He rapidly ascended the ranks to Professor in 1984, and is currently Professor Emeritus in Cellular and Physiological Sciences (formerly Anatomy) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He was Director of Medical/Dental Histology at UBC for 33 years, and with his specialized training in scanning and transmission electron microscopy, he has published extensively on aspects of normal and diseased muscle and muscle spindles. He has served as Head of the Department of Anatomy, Councilor for the Canadian Association of Anatomists, Chairman of Science Policy for the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies, and member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada.

His interest in microscopy and early professional career were profoundly influenced by several key role models. At the age of 10, his father gave him his first microscope and box of slides. At Temple University School of Medicine his thesis advisor, Dr. Steven J. Phillips, painstakingly showed him how to fine-tune and operate his first electron microscope, fostering in him a life-long fascination for cell and tissue ultrastructure. His neuroanatomy professor, Dr. Raymond C. Truex, clearly displayed to him the intricacies of the human brain and his esteemed gross anatomy professors, Drs. John Franklin Huber and Lorenzo Rodriquez-Peralta exposed the value of human dissection. In his postdoctoral years at the University of Alberta, Professor Richard S. Smith in the Department of Surgery taught him how to patiently dissect out living muscle spindles and record intracellularly from their intrafusal muscle fibers. In the Department Anatomy at UBC: Professors Sydney M. and Constance Livingstone-Friedman created an exceptional academic atmosphere where traditional teaching and cutting-edge research were both held equally in the highest regard, Dr. Charles E. Slonecker showed him how best to interact with students in the classroom and teaching laboratory, and Drs. William A. Webber and Martin J. Hollenberg (former Deans of Medicine and expert microscopists in their own right) continued to inspire him and nurture his academic career.

Dr. Ovalle is senior author of the award-winning textbook/atlas Netter’s Essential Histology, published by Elsevier/Saunders in 2008 (with co-author Dr. Patrick C. Nahirney), now in its 2nd edition (2013) and with several foreign translated editions (Portuguese, Korean, Greek, Turkish, and Italian). Book contents can be accessed online; its resources include an image and virtual slide library with 20 high-resolution digitized light microscopic slides, 225 ‘zoomifiable’ electron micrographs, and short narrated video overviews of each of 20 chapters. In 2015, the 1st Southeast Asia (international) edition was released in English. They also have published a popular set of Histology Flash Cards, used worldwide by students in medicine and the allied health professions. New to the 2nd edition are ~50% more clinical points that correlate relevant information on disease and dysfunction of cells and tissues as it relates to medical histology and histopathology.  Additional pages and images (artwork, light and electron microscopic images) that deepen the understanding of human tissues further enhance this edition.

As an educator with a long and rich history in microscopic anatomy, he has responded to the changing needs of his discipline—moving from a microscope focus to pioneering the development of a virtual histology website for use in the expanded and distributed medical curriculum in British Columbia—the focus of other curricula around the world. This innovative and interactive website contains a Virtual Slidebox (of over 500 original slides) and an EM Magnifier (of more than 200 electron micrographs). The digitized, moveable, variable magnification images can be easily manipulated on the computer screen. With his co-author (Dr. Nahirney), he continues to develop web-based instructional tools and multimedia learning programs in histology and with a clinical focus.

Dr. Ovalle has been recognized with the Killam University Teaching Prize (UBC’s highest educational award), several Medical Undergraduate Society Awards for Teaching Excellence, the Faculty of Medicine 50th Anniversary Gold Medal, Certificate of Merit from the Panamerican Association of Anatomists, and Best Illustrated Book Award (2008) by the British Medical Association. He is an Honorary UBC Medical Alumnus, a member of UBC’s Quarter Century and Tempus Fugit Clubs, and is especially thrilled that three of his former graduate students are currently full-time faculty members at other medical schools in North America and have won teaching awards at their own respective institutions.

Besides spending quality time with his spouse (Robert), including their border collie (Peggy), he enjoys practicing ashtanga yoga, photography as a hobby, and mindfulness. He also engages in recreational boating in British Columbia waters, beachcombing and gardening on the island of Maui, and ocean sports, such as Hawaiian outrigger canoeing. He crews regularly with the Maui Canoe Club, volunteers with the Maui Aids Foundation, and supports Vancouver’s InspireHealth and the BC Insight Meditation Society. He can also be spotted marching in the Vancouver Pride Parade, representing UBC Faculty of Medicine’s annual entry to this event. When not engaged in his work in histology, he is also improving his golf and tennis scores.

E d u c a t i o n a l   M a t e r i a l s   P u b l i s h e d
Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter’s Essential Histology. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia, 2008 (ISBN: 978-1-929007-86-8), 20 chapters, 493 pages. Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter’s Essential Histology, 2nd Edition. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia, 2013 (ISBN: 978-1-4557-0631-0), 20 chapters, 517 pages.
Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter’s Histology Flashcards. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia, 2008 (ISBN: 978-1-4160-4629-5). 223 flashcards. Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter’s Histology Flashcards, Updated Edition. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia, 2013 (ISBN: 978-1-4557-7656-6). 223 flashcards.
Foreign Book Translations:
Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter Bases Da Histologia. Portuguese translation: Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2008 (ISBN: 978-85-352-2803-8), 493 pages. Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter Temel Histoloji. Turkish translation: Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2009 (ISBN: 978-975-277-220-5), 486 pages.
Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. NETTER 조직학. Korean translation: Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2009 (ISBN: 978-89-92589-59-8), 491 pages. Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter Ιστολογία. Greek translation: Philadelphia: Elsevier/Saunders 2011 (ISBN: 978-960-489-088-0), 500 pages.
Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Netter Bases Da Histologia. Portuguese translation, 2nd edition: (ISBN: 978-85-352-7310-6), 536 pages. Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Anatomia Microscopica del Netter. Italian translation, 2nd edition: CIC Edizioni Internazionali, Roma, 2014 (ISBN: 978-88-7141-9817), 517 pages.

Web-related Materials:

Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney, Netter’s Histology Flash Cards for iPhone and iPad. Downloadable in US from https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/netters-histology-flash-cards/id286993972?mt=8

Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Online collection of zoomifiable electron micrographs from Netter’s Essential Histology. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2008 and 2013 (StudentConsult.inkling.com).

Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Online collection of 20 virtual slides . Part of web-related material for Netter’s Essential Histology. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2008 (StudentConsult.inkling.com).

Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Online Testbank of Multiple Choice Questions in Histology for Instructors. Part of web-related material for Netter’s Essential Histology. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2008 (Evolve.elsevier.com).

Ovalle, W.K. and P.C. Nahirney. Video (Powerpoint) Overviews: 20 chapters. Part of web-related material for Netter’s Essential Histology, 2nd Edition. Elsevier/Saunders, Philadelphia 2013 (StudentConsult.com).URL: https://studentconsult.inkling.com/read/netters-essential-histology-ovalle-nahirney-2nd/videos/4fe0d8a615ab49708c63020ed7facc6c

T e n   M o s t   C i t e d   R e f e r e e d   P u b l i c a t i o n s

Ovalle, W.K. Fine structure of rat intrafusal muscle fibers. The polar region. Journal of Cell Biology 51:83‑103 (1971)

Ovalle, W.K. and R.S. Smith. Histochemical identification of three kinds of intrafusal fibres in the cat and monkey based on the myosin ATPase reaction. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 50:195‑202 (1972)

Khosla, S., S.J. Tredwell, B. Day, S.L. Shinn and W.K. Ovalle. An ultrastructural study of multifidus muscle in progressive idiopathic scoliosis. Changes resulting from a sarcolemmal defect at the myotendinous junction. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 46:13‑31 (1980)

Ovalle, W.K. The human muscle tendon junction. A morphological study during normal growth and at maturity. Anatomy & Embryology 176:281‑294 (1987)

Anderson, J.E., B.H. Bressler and W.K. Ovalle. Functional regeneration in the hindlimb skeletal muscle of the mdx mouse. Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility 9:499‑515 (1988)

Patten, R.M. and W.K. Ovalle. Muscle spindle ultrastructure revealed by conventional and high resolution scanning electron microscopy. Anatomical Record 230:183‑198 (1991)

Nahirney, P.C. and W.K. Ovalle. Distribution of dystrophin and neurofilament protein in muscle spindles of normal and mdx-dystrophic mice: an immunocytochemical study. Anatomical Record 235:501-510 (1993)

Nahirney, P.C., P.R. Dow and W.K. Ovalle. Quantitative morphology of mast cells in skeletal muscle of normal and genetically dystrophic mice. Anatomical Record 247:341-349 (1997)

Goodmurphy, C.W. and W.K. Ovalle. Morphological study of two human facial muscles: orbicularis oculi and corrugator supercilii. Clinical Anatomy 12: 1-11 (1999)

Ovalle, W.K., P.R. Dow and P.C. Nahirney. Structure, distribution and innervation of muscle spindles in avian fast and slow skeletal muscle. Journal of Anatomy 194:381-394 (1999)

E d u c a t i o n a l   A c t i v i t i e s

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I m a g e s

Schematic view (left) and H&E stained longitudinal section (right) of a muscle spindle.

Transverse sections of muscle spindles. Toluidine Blue stained semi-thin section (left) and Transmission Electron Micrograph (right).

HRSEM view of a myelinated nerve fiber (left) and a mitochondrion in skeletal muscle (right).

M o v i e s

WKO’s tribute to Roseanne McIndoe, who served the department for over three decades.
(Click on the image to go to the video web page).

WKO’s tribute to George Spurr, who served the department for over two decades.
(Click on the image to go to the video web page).