Philly Teens Show Their Support for Teen Health

Teens pose on the marble steps of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia during a March 23, 2018, Teen Health Week panel on substance use and abuse

Did you know that opioid overdoses claim 116 lives every day? Or that at least 25% of teens in the US admit to using at least one form of tobacco? Or that 60% of teens admit to experimenting with alcohol? Last Friday, a group of Philadelphia teens assembled at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to learn about substance use and abuse.

The event was part of the College’s involvement in Teen Health Week, a global initiative to raise awareness of the unique health issues facing teens today. Teen Health Week was the brainchild of College of Physicians Fellow Dr. Laura Offutt, in conjunction with the Center for Education of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. What started in 2016 as a statewide initiative to raise awareness among Pennsylvania teens has rapidly expanded into a global program, with participating events and activities in nearly forty countries on every continent except Antarctica.

World map with green marks to indicate places where THW 2018 events are taking place

Teens gathered in the Thomson gallery to meet with a panel of healthcare and public health experts to discuss topics related to substance use. Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, a Director of Public Health Programs, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia shared her experience as an ER physician, answering questions related to a variety of emergency cases, including trauma and drug overdoses. Elvis Rosado, Education and Community Outreach Coordinator from Prevention Point Philadelphia, explained the devastating cycle of addiction in relation to the opioid epidemic. Finally,  representatives from Get Healthy Philly (the City of Philadelphia’s anti-tobacco initiative) discussed tobacco use in teens and the ways tobacco companies attempt to directly target teens as new tobacco customers.

Students in attendance also got the chance to show off their knowledge of teen health topics. Teams of teens took part in a teen health-themed quiz game, competing to answer questions related to mental health, stress, self-care, and substance use. All of our contestants came away with small prize packets of THW merchandise. The event also hosted a raffle for THW-themed yoga mats and a photo booth.

Teens dressed in lime green t-shirts pose together for a photograph during a March 23, 2018, Teen Health Week panel on substance use and abuse

Overall, we were excited by the outpouring of support from Philadelphia teens, who came out, wore lime green, asked great questions, and expressed their passion for taking control of their personal health. In a time of increased teen activism, it was heartening to behold.

If you want to learn more about Teen Health Week, be sure to check out our official homepage or check out the hashtag #2018teenhealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Celebrates Teen Health Week 2018

Official logo for Teen Health Week 2018

Teen Health Week 2018 is only one week away! What started in 2016 as Pennsylvania Teen Health Week has rapidly expanded into a global health initiative to raise awareness of the unique health issues facing teens. During the week (March 18-24), events will be taking place in over thirty countries as well as in cyberspace through social media (#2018teenhealth on Twitter and Instagram). As a founding member of THW, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia will host a pair of events specifically focusing on two of THW’s important themes.

On Wednesday, March 21, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia will be hosting a special event devoted to mental health. Experts will talk about topic relevant to teen mental health, including time management, self care, coping with stress, and music therapy. Compete in mental health-themed games and meet with professionals. Festivities will take place here at the College, 4-7PM, and is free for teens and anyone who wears lime green (the official color of Teen Health Week).

Teen Health Week Event at Philadelphia, United States of America, on January 13 2017. Photo: Hieu Pham

On Friday, March 23, we will host a panel discussion on Substance Use and Abuse with experts discussing such topics as tobacco and the opioid epidemic. Come meet with experts, learn the facts about substance use, and network over ice cream! The event will take place at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 5-7PM. Admission is free for all teens and anyone who comes wearing lime green!

Green "Teen Health Week" wristbands on display atop several Mütter Museum store books.

For more information about Teen Health Week, including resources to help get involved, check out our website.

Now Accepting Applications for the Out4STEM Internship Program!

Students in the Out4STEM Internship Program pose wearing homemade masks

We are excited to announce the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 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 LGBTQ youth Philadelphia 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
  • Acquire practical job skills in a healthcare field by successfully completing a Phlebotomy Technician Certification (CPT)

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, 2018). The second part is an after-school program that takes place once a week through the 2018-2019 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).

Students in the OUt4STEM internship program examine plaster molds of footprint impressions during a lesson on crime scene investigation at Arcadia University

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 question:

“What aspect of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is most interesting to you and why? How has identifying as LGBTQ influenced your interests in STEM?”

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 Monday, April 30, 2018.

If you have any questions, contact Quincy Greene, Youth, Support Coordinator. You can also learn more about the Out4STEM Internship Program by consulting our website.

The Out4STEM Internship program is made possible through a generous grant from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Now Accepting Applications for the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program!

Students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program pose in the Liberty Place Observation Deck

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 Internship Program. We are currently accepting applications for students for our 2018-2019 cohort.

The Teva Pharmaceuticals 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 (the upcoming summer internship will take place July 5-27, 2018). The second part is an after-school program that takes place once a week through the 2018-2019 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).

Students from the Center for Education's youth programs gather evidence from a human dummy simulating a victim at the Arcadia Crime Scene House

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 Monday, April 30, 2018.

If you have any questions, contact Quincy Greene, Youth, Support 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.

 

The Karabots Junior Fellows Test a Game About How HIV Spreads

A student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program plays CD4 Hunter, a mobile game about how HIV infects a healthy cell, on an iPad

Regular readers will know we frequently utilize games and game-based learning to create unique and memorable learning experiences for our students. Last year, our fourth cohort of the Karabots Junior Fellows Program playtested The Pox Hunter, a game about convincing Philadelphians in the early 18th century the importance of vaccines. They also designed their own forensic science themed board and card games, learned about the spread of disease by playing Pandemic 2, honed their powers of observation by taking part in a room escape, and tested their mental might with a series of thematic review games. Our fifth and most recent cohort has continued the legacy set forth by their predecessors, recently assisting Drexel University researchers playtest a game about how HIV infects health cells.

CD4 Hunter is a microbiology-themed mobile game currently under development by the Center for Business and Program Development of Drexel University’s Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. It cast the player in the role of an HIV virus. The player’s goal is to infect healthy cells in order to spread create more virus cells while resisting antibiotics. IMMID developed the game to instruct the public by means of game-based learning on how HIV spreads in the body.

Under the guidance of Mary Ann Comunale, EDD, MS, who helps oversee the project, students started with a brief questionnaire to gauge their knowledge of HIV transmission and serve as a means of measuring what they learned by playing the game. Then they paired up with iPads or on their phones and played CD4 Hunter. As they played, they wrote down their thoughts on every aspect of the game, including visuals, sound, controls, how effected it conveyed its message, and (of course) fun. Students competed for high scores, with the top scorers earning a Dunkin Donuts gift card for their efforts. Dr. Comunale followed their play session with another questionnaire to gauge how much they learned about the subject while playing the game. Everyone gave useful feedback and many of them downloaded the game on their phones to play later. Afterwards, the Fellows met with a panel of three graduate students specializing in epidemiology, virology, and vaccines, who shared insights into their research and life in graduate school.

Two students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program play CD4 Hunter, a mobile game about how HIV infects a healthy cell, on an iPad

If you’d like to try CD4 Hunter for yourself, it is currently available for free on Apple iTunes and Google Play.

CPP Curiosities: Pick Your Poison: Historic Syphilis Treatments

Logo for CPP Curiosities

Greetings, fellow historico-medico aficionados and welcome to the triumphant return of CPP Curiosities, our semi-regular segment devoted to the medically weird. Kevin here to give you another tale of mildly-interesting medical miscellany. Past installments examined such topics as the iron lung, the preserved corpse of Vladimir Lenin, and that time President Grover Cleveland had a tumor removed during a secret surgery performed on a yacht.

Today’s installment is inspired by a presentation I recently delivered to visitors to the Mütter Museum on the subject of syphilis. Visitors that day got to see books related to the disease from our Historical Medical Library, including Corky the Killer, and handle reproductions of objects in our robust collection while learning about the history of the disease.

Youth Program Coordinator Kevin Impellizeri stands behind a table of specimens and books related to syphilis for a lesson at the Mütter Museum

Syphilis has been around for a long time. Today, it is treated through antibiotics; however, before the popularization of antibiotics in the 1940s, physicians attempted a wide variety of treatments, many of which were just as bad, if not worse, than the disease itself.

Let’s start by with a brief introduction to syphilis. Syphilis aka “the French Disease” aka “the Polish Disease” aka “the German Disease” aka “the Spanish Disease” aka “the Christian Disease”  is caused by the treponema pallidum bacteria and is spread through skin-to-skin contact with syphilitic lesions, usually during sexual contact. There are a few conflicting theories of where its specific origins lie, although there appears to be some consensus that it evolved as a strain of one of several other bone/skin conditions such as yaws or pinta. The earliest outbreak that is attributed to syphilis in Europe took place in Naples in 1494/1495, and there are some who argue the first strains of the disease came to the Continent aboard Christopher Columbus’ return trip from the New World in 1493.

The disease generally follows a four-stage pattern. The first, aptly named primary syphilis, is characterized by the appearance of a large sore known as a chancre at the site of infection. Aside from being unsightly, patients with primary syphilis don’t feel any discomfort and the chancre will go away on its own after about three to six weeks. During the second stage, again aptly named secondary syphilis, the infected patient will generally have a rash or skin lesions and can also exhibit symptoms similar to the flu such as fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and fatigue. Secondary syphilis has also been known to cause hair loss. As with its chancrous predecessor, these symptoms will go away on their own after a few weeks after which the disease enters its latent phase (which, you guessed it, is called latent syphilis) where a patient exhibits no outward symptoms. Syphilis can lie dormant in a person’s system for up to thirty years!

When syphilis reawakens after its latent stage is when the real health problems begin. During the syphilis’ final form, known as tertiary syphilis, the disease beings to attack the body, particularly the skin and skeleton. Syphilis causes bone and skin to deteriorate, leaving disfiguring lesions on the patient’s face. Tertiary syphilis can also spread to other organ systems, such as the eyes (ocular syphilis) or brain (neurosyphilis).

Wax model of a syphilitic face

Wax model of a syphilitic face

Historic treatments were often just as bad, if not worse, for a syphilitic patient than the disease itself. Mercury was the most popular treatment for syphilis before the twentieth century; mercury treatments gave birth to a common phrase associated with the disease: “A night with Venus, a lifetime with Mercury.” According to the World Health Organization, prolonged exposure to mercury can lead to respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological damage. In 1909, chemist Paul Ehlich developed an alternative to mercury therapy: Compound 606 aka Salvarsan. Named because it was the 606th trial chemical, Salvarsan is generally acknowledged as the first modern chemotherapy treatment, and Elrich went on to become the co-winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. While considered effective in mitigating the early symptoms of syphilis, Salvarsan introduced another potentially deadly treatment: it was chock full of arsenic. According to the WHO, short term exposure to arsenic can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, numbness, and (depending on the level of exposure) death. Long-term exposure has been linked to skin, lung, and bladder cancers (long-time readers will recall arsenic was a suspected killer of President Zachary Taylor, although this was later disproven following an autopsy). Elrich eventually developed a replacement for Salvarsan, the creatively-named Neosalvarsan aka Compound 914, which contained slightly less arsenic; Neosalvarsan was the predominant treatment until the 1940s.

Skull with Syphilitic Necrotic

Skull with Syphilitic Necrosis, Mütter Museum, 1161.07

During the 1920s, Austrian psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Juaregg developed a novel approach to treating syphilis: infecting people with malaria. Malariotherapy is a branch of treatments that involves battling infection by inducing a high body temperature, a treatment generally known as pyrotherapy or fever therapy. Malaria is a potentially-useful pyrotherapy tool as it causes a high fever (in addition to chills, sweating, and body aches) and is curable with quinine. Wagner-Juaregg injected late-stage syphilitic patients with malaria and observed the parasite-induced fever’s efficacy in treating neurosyphilis. For his efforts, Wagner-Juaregg earned the 1927 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Despite sounding like something a mad scientist might suggest, malariotherapy became a fairly common treatment for syphilis well through the 1950s. However, modern scientists have been divided as to its efficacy, citing in part Wagner-Juaregg’s ethically-questionable use of institutionalized patients. Incidentally, in more recent years, malariotherapy has been proposed as a treatment for HIV (see here and here) and (in at least one ill-advised instance of self-administered malariotherapy) Lyme Disease.

Fortunately, syphilis is easily treatable today with penicillin, which, although penicillin allergies are not uncommon, does not cause the severe long-term health repercussions of its heavy-metal predecessors. Also, using protection, such as condoms, during sexual intercourse can also prevent the spread of syphilis.

 

Poison Control Experts Challenge the Karabots Junior Fellows

Students in the Krabots Junior Fellows Program speak with Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Challenge videos are all the rage on YouTube, from the “Cinnamon Challenge” (where one tries to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon without any liquid) to the “Chubby Bunny Challenge” (where a person tries to stuff as many marshmallows into their mouth and say, “Chubby Bunny”) to the “Ghost Pepper Challenge” (where a person eats a ghost pepper, one of the spiciest peppers on Earth). Searches on YouTube will find a plethora of videos of these and similar challenges, with different YouTubers competing to create the most audacious or entertaining video.

Recently students in the Karabots Junior Fellows learned about the potential health risks of these challenges from a pair of experts. Robb Bassett, DO, FAAEM, FCPP and Steven Walsh, MD, who, in addition to serving as Fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, are both experts when it comes to medical emergencies. Dr. Bassett is the interim Medical Director of the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while Dr. Walsh is the attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Einstein Medical Center. The pair took the students through several popular YouTube challenges, explaining their possible health risks. For example, the Cinnamon Challenge, according to a 2013 report in the medical journal Pediatrics, can cause aspiration, pulmonary inflammation or even permanent respiratory damage; the effects can be exacerbated in people with asthma.

Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, shows a PowerPoint slide on counterfeit drugs to students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program

They used this as a way to segue into a talk about the risks of counterfeit recreational or prescription drugs. Did you know that, when formed into a pill, rat poison can be made to resemble prescription painkillers like Oxycontin? Bassett and Walsh explained the hazards of counterfeit drugs, while the students asked them a variety of questions related to their fields, YouTube challenges, and the ethics of treating different kinds of patients in emergency situations. Overall it was an engaging talk where many of the students shared their opinions and gained new knowledge.