Pomp and Circumstance: The Karabots Junior Fellows Graduation

Students from the first cohort of Karabots Junior Fellows share their experience at the 2016 KJF graduation ceremony

Since 2009, the Karabots Junior Fellows Program has hosted four cohorts of 20-24 promising Philadelphia high school students with an interest in pursuing a career in health care. This June marked a momentous achievement in the history of the Program: the graduation of two cohorts. The KJF3s celebrated their graduation from high school, while many of the KJF1s, the first students to ever enter the Program, recently graduated from college. Many of these students are the first in their family to go to college; needless to say, we were all excited and proud.

On June 15, students from all four cohorts joined together with family, staff, and other well-wishers to celebrate their accomplishments. Every student graduating from KJF3 received a certificate to mark their completion of the Program. At the end of the event several members of the first cohort of Karabots Fellows gave brief speeches, sharing their experiences, future ambitions, and advice to the younger Fellows. We also took time to honor the most recent cohort of Karabots Junior Fellows, who completed their first year having become experts in forensic science and game design.

We are honored to announce students from KJF1 have graduated (or will soon graduate) from the following institutions:

Barnard College
Dennison University
LaSalle University
Ohio Wesleyan University
Penn State University-Abington
Penn State University-Altoona
Penn State University-Main Campus
Temple University
University of Pittsburgh
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Ursinus College
Villanova University

Many of them have received degrees in some branch of helathcare (including nursing, psychology, nutrition, and public health) and several plan on pursuing advanced degrees.

Kevin, one of the graduating Karabots Junior Fellows, receives his certificate of completion from CEPI Director Jacqui Bowman

Meanwhile, students from KJF3 will be starting the next leg of their academic journey at the following institutions:

Albright College
Community College of Philadelphia
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology
Haverford College
Hofstra University
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
LaSalle University
Lycoming College
Neumann University
Northhampton Community College
Rosemont College
Shippensburg University
Southern Vermont College
Temple University
University of New Haven

Most of them have received financial aid awards and several have even earned full college scholarships! We are extremely proud of their accomplishments and are certain they will go far.

The Karabots Junior Fellows Program is made possible through the generous contributions of Nicholas and Athena Karabots and the Karabots Foundation, and we are extremely thankful for their continued support.

Image of Nicholas and Athena Karabots taken at the 2016 KJF graduation ceremony



CEPI Curiosities: Venom vs. Poison

CEPI Curiosities: Tales from Medical History's Strange Side

Hello again, fellow historio-medico-philes, and welcome to another installment of CEPI Curiosities. This time around, we have a guest contributor. Vashon Chapman, a student in our Karabots Junior Fellows Program, is here to share you some insights from his research into venom and poison.

Take it away, Vashon!

Many of us might know what venom and poison are and know the phrase “If it bites you and you die it’s venomous and if you bite or touch it and die it is poisonous, but we tend to use them in the wrong manner or interchangeably. Poison and venom are NOT the same; they have different meanings and uses. A poison is any substance that can cause severe organ damage or death if ingested, breathed in, or absorbed through the skin. Venom is a poisonous secretion of an animal, such as a snake, spider, or scorpion, usually transmitted to prey or to attackers by a bite or sting. According to A .Calmette M.D. “An animal is said to be venomous when it posses the power of inoculating its venom.” However both of these toxins have one big similarity: they both inflict pain or illness and can cause death.

Let’s Talk Snake Venom

Most snakes have more than one type of toxins in their venom like cobras, mambas, coral snakes, banded kraits and yellow-bellied sea snakes making them very dangerous. There are 20 different types of snake venom. The main types of venoms are Hemotoxic, Neurotoxic, and Cytotoxic venom. Hemotoxic venom destroys red blood cells and disrupts blood clotting, causing significant tissue and organ damage. A RattleSnake injects hemotoxic venom into its prey through slender fangs with tubes at the end where the venom lays. Neurotoxic Venom causes drowsiness, blurred vision, difficulty speaking, and  paralysis which can cause the lungs to stop working. The Death Adder is an example of a snake with Neurotoxic Venom. It injects 40 to 100 mg of venom per bite and can cause death if not treated within six hours. Cytotoxic venom causes pain, swelling and tissue damage. The spitting cobra actually has both cytotoxic venom and a small amount of neurotoxic venom.

Image of an unadorned puff adder from 1873

Did you know: In India it is regarded as a crime to kill a cobra when it enters a hut because of religious beliefs. In fact people offer them prayers and food. However in the Indian peninsula alone, the cobra, the krait, and other extremely venomous species of snakes cause every year an average of 25,000 deaths.

Not all snakes are the same the weight and length of snakes determines the weight of the poisonous gland. For example an 1lb snake with a length of 2ft 1 inch has a weight gland of  7 ½  grains. Compared to a snake that weighs 3 lbs 9 oz with a length of 4ft has a weight gland of 12 ½ grains.

Did you know: that The Asian Tiger Snake is both venomous and poisonous. The snake gets its poison from eating frogs and stores it in the nuchal glands of their neck.

How to Treat a Snakebite

In order to treat a snake bite, according to A. Calmette, M.D., the wound should first be washed with a fresh solution of hypochlorite of lime. Then 10. C.C of liquid serum or 1 gram of dry serum dissolved in 10 C.C of boiled water, is injected into the subcutaneous areolar tissue of the abdomen on the right or left side. There is no advantage of injecting on the actual spot of the bite. The serum is best when injected into loose tissue of the abdominal wall. If bitten by a larger snake such as a cobra it is preferred to inject three whole doses of serum at once.

All About Poison

Now that we know about venom, let’s talk about poison. Poison is a substance that is capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism when introduced or absorbed. There are different types of toxins in poison just like in venom. For example an golden poison dart frog’s poison is batrachotoxin. This toxin causes numbness to the tissue if comes into contact and can cause muscle and nerve depolarization, fibrillation, arrhythmias, and heart failure if comes into the body. Scientists are even researching how batrachotoxin could be used as an ingredient in pain-killer ointment.

Did you know that the Indians of Western Colombia use the golden poison dart frog toxins on their blow darts to poison and kill animals and enemies?

Pufferfish are also poisonous animals. Pufferfish are not poisonous when touched. They store tetrodotoxin in their liver and sex organs and release the toxin when eaten. Tetrodotoxin interferes with the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles and causes an increasing paralysis of the muscles of the body. It is 1,000 times more powerful than cyanide. In Tokyo, pufferfish (or “fugu”) is considered an Japanese delicacy. However, restaurants that serve fugu must be licensed and the butchers have to be licensed for safety reasons because of the risk of being poisoned by this delicacy. 50 years ago, over 100 people died a year from fugu poisoning now the number has decreased to 3 per year because of the licensing of the butchers.

1875 drawing of a pufferfish

Did you know that The Hooded Pitohui is the first discovered poisonous bird. The bird gets its poison from the Choresine beetle which is apart of the birds diet.  

Treatment for fugu poisoning

Symptoms usually occur between 10-45 minutes after eating the fish such as vomiting and numbness around the mouth. Medical attention should be sought immediately if feeling any symptoms.

One last fun fact: Snake vs Mongoose

The Mongoose and Hedgehog have an natural immunity to snake venom but they are not completely immune. A. Calmette, the member of the French Institute and of The Academy of medicine, experimented and accounted a story of an naja bungarus snake and a mongoose. Calmette introduced a mongoose into a cage containing a naja bungarus. The snake rose up immediately and struck at the mongoose but missed and the mongoose escaped from being seized. When the snake went to strike the mongoose again, the mongoose opened its mouth and sprang upon the snake’s head, crushing its skull in seconds.

Until next time, catch you on the strange side!



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“Pufferfish, Pufferfish Pictures, Pufferfish Facts – National Geographic.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.