Now Accepting Applications for the Teva Pharmaceuticals STEM Internship

The 2016 cohort of the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship program pose with Teva employees and hold certificates of completion for completing their summer internship

Are you a Philadelphia high school sophomore or junior who is interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering or math? Do you have a passion for social justice? Have you been affected by personal or community violence? If you answered “YES,” then you may be a strong candidate for the Teva Pharmaceuticals STEM Internship Program. We are currently accepting applications for students for our 2018-2019 cohort.

The Teva Pharmaceuticals STEM Internship Program is a one-year summer and after-school internship directed at Philadelphia high school students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) who have been impacted by community violence. Interns take part in lessons and activities designed to cultivate their strength and interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; meet and interact with professionals in various STEM fields; learn to devise methods of coping with and responding to personal violence and violence in their communities; and cultivate a network of professional and emotional support among their peers. The Program also takes advantage of the unique resources of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, including the world-famous Mütter Museum, the Historical Medical Library, and our vast network of Fellows to create an engaging experience unlike any other youth program.

The program focuses on the following themes:

  • Learning and applying forensic techniques such as crime scene investigation, fingerprinting, and ballistics.
  • Understanding the health system’s response to individuals with traumatic gunshot wounds, including emergency room procedures, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
  • Understanding the body’s physiological response to stress and stress relief techniques
  • Learning to talk, heal, and build community with your peers.
  • Learning to network with STEM professionals and future mentors.

The program consists of two parts. The first is a four-week summer internship that takes place through the month of July 2019. The second part is an after-school program that takes place once a week through the 2018-2019 school year. Transit keycards to and from all events will be supplied by the Center for Education. Students will also receive a stipend upon successful completion of the program. With the exception of off-site field trips, all activities will take place at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (19 South 22nd Street).

Four students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship pose with signs displaying various facts about HIV/AIDS at World AIDS Day 2016

If you are interested in learning about exciting careers in STEM and want to help make a difference in your community, you can fill out our online application. Any rising 11-12th grader (will be in 11th or 12th grade in the upcoming school year) currently enrolled at a school in the Philadelphia School District (including charter schools) is welcome to apply; however, students from private schools are NOT eligible to apply. There are no costs to enroll or be enrolled in the program. We require all students receive permission from a parent or guardian and provide contact information for a teacher or other adult mentor (coach, youth group leader, religious leader, etc.) who will serve as a reference. In order to better get to know you, we ask that you include in your application the answer the following question:

“Based on your personal experience, explain how violence have affected your life or your community. What is one possible solution to reduce the impact of violence on you or your community?”

Your answer can take the form of a brief essay (MAX 750 words) or a video (MAX 10 minutes). If you choose to create a video, the format is up to you; just remember to answer the above prompt. Application materials must be submitted no later than 11:59PM on Friday, May 31, 2019.

If you have any questions, contact Sarah Lumbo, Teen Health Programs Coordinator. You can also learn more about the Teva Internship Program by consulting our website.

The Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship program is made possible through a generous grant from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

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Now Accepting Applications for the Out4STEM Program

A student from the Out4STEM Program dissects a sheep's brain.

Attention, Philadelphia high school students: we are excited to announce the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 cohort of the out4STEM Internship Program!

The out4STEM Internship Program is a one-year, summer and after-school internship program aimed at LGBTQIA high school students in Philadelphia who have an interest in healthcare/medicine or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Program also seeks to address the unique challenges facing Philadelphia LGBTQIA youth in an accepting, STEM-oriented safe space. The Program takes advantage of the unique resources of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, including the world-famous Mütter Museum, the Historical Medical Library, and our vast network of Fellows to create an engaging experience unlike any other youth program.

During the course of the program, students will achieve the following goals:

  • Learn about careers related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and healthcare/medicine.
  • Cultivate relationships between like-minded, motivated Philadelphia LGBTQIA students and professionals.
  • Develop a greater understanding of the body’s physiological response to stress.
  • Facilitate stress-relieving techniques.
  • Address the impact of bullying and discrimination and develop responses.
  • Learn to communicate, heal, and build a community.

Out4STEM Students showing off their masks at the Masquerade 2015

The program consists of two parts. The first is a four-week summer internship that takes place through the month of July (the upcoming summer internship will take place July 5-27, 2019). The second part is an after-school program that takes place once a week through the 2019-2020 school year. Transit tokens to and from all events will be supplied by the Center for Education. Students will also receive a stipend upon successful completion of the program. With the exception of off-site field trips, all activities will take place at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (19 South 22nd Street).

In order to be eligible for the Out4STEM Internship Program, candidates must meet the following requirements (Note: There are no costs to enroll or be enrolled in the Out4STEM Internship Program):

  • Currently enrolled in a high school within the Philadelphia School District, including public, private, parochial, or charter schools.
  • Possess an interest in healthcare, medicine, or STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math)

Interested students must submit an application form form accompanied by the following items:

If you are interested in joining the out4STEM Internship Program, you can fill out our online application. We require all students receive permission from a parent or guardian and provide contact information for a teacher or other adult mentor (coach, youth group leader, religious leader, etc.) who will serve as a reference. In order to better get to know you, we ask that you include in your application the answer the following questions:

1) “What aspect of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is most interesting to you and why?”
2) “What do you hope to get out of being a member of the out4STEM Program?”

Your answer can take the form of a brief essay (MAX 750 words) or a video (MAX 10 minutes). If you choose to create a video, the format is up to you; just remember to answer the above prompt. Selected applicants will be asked to take part in an interview. All applicants must be prepared to submit a work permit (information on how to obtain one can be found here).

Application materials must be submitted no later than 11:59PM on Friday, May 31, 2019.

If you have any questions, contact Victor Gomes, the out4STEM Coordinator (vgomes@collegeofphysicians.org). You can also learn more about the out4STEM Internship Program by consulting our website or checking our Frequently Asked Questions.

The out4STEM Internship program is made possible through a generous grant from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Philly 9th Graders: Join the Karabots Junior Fellows Program!

Two students from the Karabots Junior Fellows Program experiment with a Laënnec stethoscope

Are you a Philly 9th grader with an interest in health care or medicine? Are you a Philadelphia public or charter school teacher or counselor who knows 9th graders who are interested in careers in medicine?

The Center for Education of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is now accepting applications for the Summer 2019 installment of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program.

Founded in 2009, the Karabots Junior Fellows Program is for Philadelphia high school students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. Through hands-on activities, innovative educational programming, interactions with healthcare professionals, and engagements through the unique resources of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (including the world-renowned Mütter Museum and the Historical Medical Library), the Program introduces students to the diverse fields available in healthcare and medicine. It also empowers students to take charge of their health and encourage healthy lifestyle choices for their families and their communities.

Students in the KArabots Junior Fellows Program monitor each other's blood pressure at Drexel University's Physical Therapy Lab

The next summer program will take place August 12-23, 2019. This year’s theme is “Defeating Disease,” focusing on the biology, treatment, and response to infectious disease from a variety of scientific, medical, and historical perspectives.

Participants may also have the possibility to stay for a multi-year after-school program focused on healthcare, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), academic and career advisement, and college preparation that goes through twelfth grade.

Students interested in joining the Karabots Junior Fellows Program must fulfill the following requirements:

  • They must be entering the 10th grade in Fall 2019.
  • They must be a Philadelphia resident.
  • They must be attending a Philadelphia public or charter high school.
  • They must have an interest in biology and the healthcare professions.
  • They will be the first in their immediate family to graduate from a college or university.
  • They must qualify for a FREE or REDUCED PRICE school lunch.
  • They may not have any disciplinary problems on their school record.
  • They must have permission from a parent/guardian to take part in the program.
  • They must be prepared to provide a work permit if they are brought in for an interview (more information on obtaining a work permit).

The Karabots Junior Fellows take part in a yoga demonstration led by Laura Baehr

Interested students can complete our online application form. The application must include the name and contact information of an adult supporter (parent, guardian, or adult over the age of 18 willing to vouch for the student), a reference from a teacher or counselor, and a brief personal statement in the form of an essay, video, or audio clip. The deadline to apply is 11:59PM on Friday, May 31, 2019.

To learn more about the program, please consult our website or check out our FAQ. Direct all inquiries to Kevin D. Impellizeri, Assistant Director of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program (email: kimpellizeri@collegeofphysicians.org; phone: 215-372-7313).

 

A Disturbingly Informative Trip to the Woodlands Cemetery

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate specimens to attendees of the Halloween Family Fun Day event at the Woodlands Cemetery

On October 21, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program traveled to the Woodlands to give visitors a small glimpse into the interesting and surprising specimens and objects in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s vast collection. Longtime readers will recall the Woodlands is a common field trip location for students in the Karabots Program and representatives of the Mütter Museum, including Karabots students, have participated in numerous events hosted by the Woodlands.

A group photo of students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program in the Hamilton mansion at the Woodlands Cemetery

Established as the country home of Philadelphia socialite William Hamilton, the Woodlands became an active cemetery in 1840; it is the final resting place of numerous noteworthy Philadelphians, including several Fellows of the College of Physicians, such as Silas Weir Mitchell, John Ashhurst, and William Williams Keen, and the founder of the Campbells Soup Company among other notables. It is also the site of the largest grave marker in the United States, an 84-foot tall obelisk constructed for famous dentist and Penn Dental school founder Thomas Wiltberger Evans.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate specimens to attendees of the Halloween Family Fun Day event at the Woodlands Cemetery

Our students were on-site as part of the Woodlands annual Halloween Family Fun Day, where visitors come to the historic rural cemetery to take part in fun activities. Visitors of all ages came dressed in costumes for Halloween and there was even a pet costume contest in which a dog dressed as a pumpkin took the grand prize. Our students spent the afternoon in the Hamilton Mansion demonstrating “Mini Mütter,” a sampling of the unique items on display at the Mütter Museum. The Junior Fellows displayed such items as anatomical models, replicas of bones and museum specimens (such as an arm with smallpox and a foot with elephantiasis), preserved brain slides, and a collection of Civil War medical tools. Several students even led anatomy-themed games, challenging visitors to identify bones, label pieces of the heart, and demonstrate using different parts of their brain. Our students acted as great ambassadors for the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, showed off their knowledge, and honed their public speaking skills. Just as important, they introduced people young and old to the amazing collections available at the Mütter Museum and offered insights into medicine and human anatomy.

Portrait of a Fellow: Chevalier Jackson

Greetings and salutations, fellow historico-medico aficionados. Today’s installment is the second in a series we are calling “Portrait of a Fellow,” where we introduce you to notable medical professionals who make up our esteemed body of Fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. The first article in this series highlighted noted physician and civil rights activist Nathan Francis Mossell. Today, we welcome another guest author to make you better acquainted with another of our past Fellows. I turn the floor over to Xavier Gavin, one of our dedicated team of Mütter Museum docents and an alum of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program. He is here to talk about noted otolaryngologist Chevalier Jackson. 

Take it away, Xavier!

The Chevalier Jackson collection is a large assortment of objects that were once swallowed by people accidentally. The collection has over 2000 objects, most of which are on display inside of the staircase in drawers on the lower level in the Mütter Museum. The objects range from pins, to buttons, to animal bones, to Cracker Jack figures, and so on.

Swallowed Objects from the Chevalier Jackson Collection, College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Swallowed Objects from the Chevalier Jackson Collection, College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Chevalier Jackson was born in Pittsburgh in 1865. Jackson’s childhood was full of trouble and trauma. He was bullied in school continuously because of his sensitive demeanor and small stature; once, bullies threw him into an abandoned mine. However, as a child, he always seemed to be drawn to statistics and recording information. When he became interested in skating, he recorded his falls and casualties for reference, which may have helped lead to his interest in records and the like for a future career. Later he worked with pipes and plumbing, inspiring his future endeavors in developing medical tools.

Jackson attended Western University of Pennsylvania, now known as the University of Pittsburgh. While in college, Jackson dabbled in art, specifically that of decorating glasses and china. This side work helped him support his family, pay for his medical school, and helped him cultivate his illustrating skills, which he later put to use when illustrating his techniques in bronchoscopy, helping further his goal of educating others in the field.

https://cepiatcpp.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/chevalier.jpg

Jackson earned public recognition through his work as an otolaryngologist, more commonly known as an ear nose and throat specialist. This field was still relatively new in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the time when Jackson was practicing. It was during this period that he started collecting swallowed objects he extracted from patients. Jackson created and tended to this collection in order to help educate doctors on the field and to let them know more about what to expect in the field. Jackson never charged a patient any money for extracting an object. All he asked was that he could keep the object for his records. In 1924, Jackson donated his collection of swallowed objects and records to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Safety pins are probably the most abundant type of object in the collection. It was likely such a commonly swallowed object because seamstresses would hold pins in their mouths, or parents would hold them in their mouths while changing a baby’s diaper, or babies removed them from their diapers. Jackson was said to be even good enough at this craft of removing objects to push a pin down into the stomach where there’s more room, close it, and then safely extract it without puncturing anything vital.

X-ray showing safety pin and button in a 10-day-old infant’s airway, 1934, Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

X-ray showing safety pin and button in a 10-day-old infant’s airway, 1934, Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Jackson’s accomplishments earned him the nickname the “father of laryngoscopy.” In addition to his swallowed objects collection, Jackson invented a special tool called a laryngoscope. Jackson’s laryngoscope included a light he used to see into a patient’s throat as well as a long pair of tweezers with clamps on the end to grab the object. Jackson also had a doll named Michelle made so he could practice the procedure on something human-like and teach others his methods for extracting objects swallowed by children.

Chevalier Jackson demonstrating Michelle the Choking Doll, Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Chevalier Jackson demonstrating Michelle the Choking Doll, Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Jackson is also credited with campaigning for proper labeling and classification of anything containing poison. In all of the procedures of removing swallowed objects he endured, Jackson noticed various burns and injuries due to children consuming lye and other poisonous substances. Jackson realized this was a common problem due to the lack of essential warnings on packages or any federal regulation of hazardous substances. Jackson held countless meetings, presentations, and lectures, and his efforts eventually led to the creation of the Federal Caustic Poison Act  in 1925.

Chevalier Jackson has many achievements to his name. Whether people realize it or not, his work is extremely vital to the safety of people of all ages and the advancement of this particular field in medicine. His work goes much further than just what you see in those drawers.

Thanks for the article, Xavier! If you’d like to see the Chevalier Jackson collection for yourself, it is on display (along with lots of other interesting items from the history of medicine) here at the Mütter Museum!

The Karabots Junior Fellows Visit the Karabots Center

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program pose in front of a plaque devoted to Nicholas and Athena Karabots at the CHOP Karabots Pediatric Care Center

Frequent readers will know we strongly believe in bringing students in our youth programs to the places where healthcare and science take place. Last week, the students in the fifth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program visited the Karabots Pediatric Care Center of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Observant readers will notice the Center shares its name with our program, as both were made possible through generous contributions from Nicholas and Athena Karabots and the Karabots Foundation. While at the Center, our students toured their facilities and met with members of their dedicated healthcare staff.

Opened in 2013, and located in West Philadelphia, the Karabots Center offers a host of different healthcare and outreach services for communities in West Philadelphia and beyond. In addition to a variety of health services, the Center offers community health and wellness programs, assisting in such capacities as literacy, education for new mothers, asthma prevention, homeless assistance, support for victims of domestic violence. Their facilities see roughly 60,000 patients per year.

During their visit, they met with Tyra Bryant-Stephens, MD, a renowned specialist in childhood asthma. Dr. Bryant-Stephens is the founder and Medical Director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) at CHOP. She shared her personal journey, her work in asthma prevention, as well as some health and wellness tips. They also met with Andrea Bailer, MSN, CRNP, one of their experienced pediatric nurses who talked about her personal and professional experience.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program interact with a medical interpreter on a scree at the CHOP Karabots Pediatric Care Center

The students were excited to briefly tour the Center’s medical facilities. They also got to visit their community garden. Maintained by members of the West Philadelphia community, the garden produces healthy fruit, vegetables, and herbs for patients and families in the Healthy Weight Program. In 2016, the garden yielded roughly 1,000 pounds of herbs and vegetables.

We are thankful for CHOP opening their doors and sharing their wonderful work with our students.

CPP Curiosities: Ted Williams and Cryogenics

Logo for CPP Curiosities

Greetings, medico-historico aficionados, and welcome to the latest installment of CPP Curiosities, our semi-regular foray into weird and interesting chapters in medical history. Past articles have addressed treating syphilis by infecting patients with malaria, a fake Persian mummy who may have been a real murder victim, and graverobbing on top of graverobbing.

The leaves are changing, people are gearing up for Halloween and the subsequent two-month mad dash to the holiday season (only 75 more shopping days until Christmas, everyone!). We are in the midst of an annual American tradition: Major League Baseball’s postseason. The road to the World Series is heating up, and even though our hometown Philadelphia Phillies have long since been eliminated from playoff contention (sometime around the July All-Star break if my memory serves) there are many ball fans of more successful teams who are excited. In the spirit of the postseason, I thought we’d dive into a topic that marries both baseball and weird medical history. With that in mind, read on to learn about possible life after death, the science (or lack thereof) of human preservation, and one of the greatest hitters in baseball history.

Cryonics

Some of you may have heard of cryogenics. Also known as cryonics, cryogenesis, or cryopreservation, it is the practice of having all or part of a person’s body stored at sub-zero temperatures. The ultimate goal, in theory, is they can eventually be thawed and revived. Its medical applications generally involve freezing a patient with an incurable disease or traumatic injury in the hopes that future medical/scientific advances can heal them or that technology advances enough to allow human consciousness to be transferred from the body to another vessel (i.e. preserved and stored electronically). Conceptually, the idea of placing a person in suspended animation, by freezing or otherwise, has a long history in fiction, from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet to Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, to Philip K. Dick’s novel Ubik to Matt Groening’s Futurama. However, modern attempts to bring the concept off the page and screen date and into the real world back to the 1950s. While academic articles circulated in the 1940s and 1950s, the first work on the subject directed at a mass audience was Robert Ettinger’s 1964 book The Prospect of Immortality, a treatise on the scientific feasibility of human cryopreservation. His work led to public interest in the practice and several entrepreneurial enterprises. The first attempt to preserve a body via freezing occurred in April 1966, when Cryocare Corporation froze a recently-deceased elderly woman from California. The following year, on January 12, 1967, technicians froze deceased psychology professor James Bedford (cryonics enthusiasts celebrate January 12 as “Bedford Day”).

As described in a pro-cryonics journal, advocates for the scientific feasibility of cryonics cite four principles: (1) metabolic function is arrested in bodies preserved under sufficiently low temperatures, thus allowing them to be effectively preserved indefinitely; (2) the use of specialized chemicals can reduce or prevent the risk of damage to the body when frozen; (3) biological death, as opposed to legal death, is a process not an event; and (4) future scientific/technical methods could potentially allow cryogenically preserved people to be revived.

In the case of modern cryopreservation, after physicians establish time-of-death, representatives from a cryopreservation group or one of its subsidiaries preserve the body for transit to a cryonics facility. The body is placed in an ice water bath and attached to devices designed to maintain blood flow and respiration (to minimize deterioration) until the body reaches its destination. When it arrives, blood is replaced with a specialized solution designed to protect the body from damage while freezing. If only the patient’s head is being preserved (described in the business as neurocryopreservation or simply “neuro”), technicians remove it from the body. The body or head is then placed into a storage container called a “dewar” and frozen with liquid nitrogen, remaining in a frozen state until science catches up with science fiction (More on the procedure here).

Photo of a dewar, a cryogenic container for storing bodies under below-zero temperatures

A Dewar used in cryopreservation
Photo courtesy of Alcor Life Extension Foundation

It may not surprise you to know there are some key challenges to cryopreservation. For one thing, its efficacy is difficult to test. There’s currently no way to revive a cryopreserved patient and it’s difficult (and illegal) to subject human test subjects to a procedure that effectively has a 100% fatality rate. A patient cannot legally be preserved until after they’re dead. Alcor Life Extension Foundation, one of the more prominent cryonics services, concedes cryopreservation on a living subject is legally considered murder or suicide depending on who initiates it. This leaves cryotechnicians with the trouble of curing death in addition to whatever ailment brought about the patient’s end. As a result, cryonics leaves a lot of the work up to future scientists to help finish the job for them. Failure rates and deterioration of specimens are also issues. Modern cryonics facilities claim to make every effort to minimize the amount of deterioration due to extreme temperatures; however, there is a risk. According to a report from Alcor, with the exception of Bedford, every other cryonics patient preserved before 1974 eventually suffered some manner of failure. The general scientific consensus is, while it’s certainly possible to preserve a body under extremely low temperatures for a long period of time, the odds of revival are so low as to invalidate the endeavor. Advocates, meanwhile, retort that even an astronomically small chance of transcending death is better than no chance at all.

An image from the animated series Futurama. Shows a sign reading "Applied Cryogenics: No Power Failures Since 1997 [the seven in 1997 is taped over another number]"

Image Source: 20th Century Fox. Used under fair use.

Another challenge for cryonics enthusiasts: the process is extremely expensive. While companies like Alcor assure that much of the cost can be covered through life insurance, aspiring patients need to be prepared pay between $80,000 and $220,000 (depending on whether they opt for “neuro” or “whole body” plus additional fees) upon the event of their death. According to Alcor, the cost covers the initial procedure, general storage and maintenance as well as a trust patients can access after their reanimation. (A small price to pay for immortality?)

The Strange Case of Ted Williams

Often when one brings up the subject, as was my experience, people often mention Walt Disney. This refers to a persistent (and discredited) myth that the founder of the now-monolithic company responsible for most of our youthful amusement had himself cryogenically frozen following his death in 1966. However, perhaps the most famous person who was actually cryogenically frozen was legendary baseball player Ted Williams.

Theodore Samuel “Ted” Williams (1908-2002) was a longtime outfielder for the Boston Red Sox. During his nineteen-year career, 1939 to 1960 with a brief hiatus in the 1940s to serve in World War II, he was a two-time American League (AL) MVP (Most Valuable Player), a six-time AL batting champion (highest batting average in the league for the season), and an AL All-Star in every season he played. When he retired in 1960, he ranked in the top ten all time in career home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and RBI (runs batted in). Williams still holds the record for the highest on-base percentage in major league history (full stats). He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1966, and he ranks among one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Photograph of Ted Williams from 1939

Ted Williams in 1939 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ted Williams died of congestive heart failure on July 5, 2002. Following his death, representatives from Alcor shipped Williams’ body from Florida to their facilities in Scottsdale, AZ. There, technicians separated his head from his body, placing the head and torso in separate Dewars.

His passing and subsequent preservation triggered a bitter legal battle among Williams’ three children over the ultimate fate of his remains. His oldest daughter, Bobby-Joe Ferrell along with several other relatives and family friends, argued Ted Williams’ final wishes were to be cremated. However John Henry and Claudia Williams, his son and youngest daughter, respectively, argued Williams had had a change of heart before his death, opting instead for cryopreservation. John Henry developed an interest in cryonics in the late nineties and reached an agreement with Alcor to have his remains along with his father and sisters’ be preserved and stored at Alcor following their deaths. A legal battle ensued: John Henry asserted his power of attorney over his fathers’ affairs, while Bobby-Joe accused John Henry and Claudia of falsifying a consent form from their father. Eventually, Bobby-Joe allowed her brother and sister to keep Williams frozen on the condition that they not attempt to sell her father’s DNA (perhaps so he could be cloned and attempt to re-break his old hitting records). She also agreed to not publicly discuss Williams’ cryopreservation. In exchange, John-Henry and Claudia agreed to pay Bobby-Joe her share of her inheritance.

There was no shortage of press attention for the salacious details of Williams’ afterlife. It didn’t take long for accounts to circulate that Alcor was mishandling Williams remains. In July 2002, reports came out that his head had to be refrozen after cracks began to appear. In 2009, Larry Johnson, Alcor’s former chief operating officer, published a tell-all book about the company’s most famous tenant; among the more shocking accusations he levied against Alcor was that technicians reportedly hit Williams’s head multiple times with a wrench to jar it loose from a pedestal made out of a tuna can. (It hasn’t been the only scandal surrounding the company. In 1988 rumors circulated former Alcor executive Saul Kent poisoned his mother before cryopreserving her head). Moreover, a series of misfortunes brought his cryogenically-frozen future into jeopardy. An August 2003 article in Sports Illustrated reported John Henry still owed Alcor $110,000; according to Johnson, Alcor executives joked they would send Williams’s thawed body back to his son in a cardboard box.

It isn’t clear how matters were resolved between John Henry and Alcor; when John Henry died of leukemia in 2004, his remains were brought to Alcor for cryopreservation and his father remains there in frozen stasis to this day.

If this grisly story hasn’t satiated your need for accounts of preservation (or lack thereof) of notable figures, you can check out my previous article on the preservation of Vladimir Lenin’s body.

Until next time, catch you on the strange side!