KJF Summer 2014: Observation

After a post-graduation-party hiatus for all the hardworking Karabots Junior Fellows, we’re back in action! The KJF3’s undertook a wide variety of activities during our two week intensive summer program, all under the theme of “observation.”

To start us off, Dr. Michelle DiMeo and our new Medical Historical Librarian Beth Lander exposed us to the early medical work of Galen and Andreas Vesalius. This was the beginning of our institution-wide celebration of the 500th Birthday of Andreas Vesalius at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

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That’s Michelle, showing us depictions from our Medical Historical Library of some of the early surgical work that was done to assess how the structure of human anatomy makes our bodies function. For hundreds of years before Vesalius came on the scene, we assumed facts about human anatomy based on the study of pigs and monkeys. Vesalius didn’t buy it! He demanded a more rigorous standard of observation, and was among the first to study the human body by dissecting it directly. He and his students had to rob graves and venture outside city limits to obtain fresh bodies to dissect. Sounds a bit gruesome, but that’s what it takes to earn the title “Father of Modern Anatomy!”


We got to do some dissection of our own, thanks to some instruction from Dr. Jayatri Das, chief bioscientist at the Franklin Institute. (Those are sheep brains our students are dissecting, not human brains). We learned some anatomy and got to stain our cheek cells and check them out under the microscope. Later we even ventured into the cadaver lab at Drexel. The KJF students got to hold a real human heart! No photographs were allowed in there, though.

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One of our students’ favorite trips was to the simulation lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing, where we got to practice our injection skills, learn to take a blood pressure, and work with the simulation dummy shown above, the same kind used by nursing and medical students so that they can learn to treat the body in a low-risk setting.

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Lurking in the corner back there is Dr. Paul Craddock of the film production company SMART Docs. He joined us from London to create a film about our program. The short film is in its final stages of production. Look for that here in a few weeks!


This is the whole group inside a special exhibit in the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing. Here we got to see the very important role of nurses and nursing in U.S. history. Students got some exposure to the practical and observational skills required to be a good nurse, but also got to understand the greater context of the role they could be playing in the trajectory of America’s healthcare system. With this in mind, this year we will continue our study of the history of healthcare in America, and think about what social factors have shaped our current situation.