Mixed Signals: A New Exhibit at the Mütter Museum

Main exhibit label for Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer

If you haven’t visited The Mütter Museum in a while, this fall is a nice time for a return to The Birthplace of American Medicine. On October 17, 2019, The Mütter Museum unveiled Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia, a large new exhibit examining the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, how it affected Philadelphians, and the ways the deadliest outbreak in human history influenced public health to this day.

This month, students in the The Karabots Junior Fellows program made their own addition to the Museum. Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer offers Museum visitors an overview of cancer, how cancer behaves, various ways it is treated, and ways you can help reduce your risk. The exhibit was a joint program between The Center for Education of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and Swarthmore College and was made possible through a grant from The National Science Foundation.

It was the product of a year’s worth of careful planning and meticulous research by students in the fifth cohort of The Karabots Junior Fellows program. We have covered the exploits of the Karabots students numerous times here. For the uninitiated, The Karabots Junior Fellows Program is a three-year after-school and summer internship program for Philadelphia high school students from underserved communities with an interest in pursuing careers in healthcare, medicine, and science.

The project began in August 2018 with an intensive two-week summer program where the students built up their knowledge of cancer and cell signaling. Brad Davidson, Associate Professor of developmental biology at Swarthmore, and his student assistant, Allie Naganuma, taught our students how cells grow and develop by sending and receiving signals. If these signals are disrupted through mutations, cellular miscommunication can lead to an overgrowth of abnormal cells. These abnormal cells build up over time to form tumors. If they are not detected and treated early, these growths can affect how the body works, eventually spreading to other parts of the body and adversely affecting a person’s health. The Karabots students also met with experts in a variety of related fields, including cancer biology, pathology, and treatment; biomedical research; hospice and palliative care; physical therapy; and mental health. Their work over the summer gave them the necessary tools to tackle such a complex subject and apply their knowledge to and share what they learned with others.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program take part in an activity about cancer biology by assembling walls made of Legos

When the students met for their weekly sessions for the 2018-2019 school year, we divided them into two teams: Exhibit and Outreach. The exhibit team worked together to select materials from The College’s collection, including biological specimens and medical tools as well as physical and digital objects from the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Over the course of the school year, they conducted research, drafted labels, and worked with professional exhibit designer Jordan Klein to bring their exhibit to life. The culmination of all their hard work was Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer, which officially opened to the public on November 5, 2019.

Meanwhile, the Outreach team was hard at work distilling what they learned into a lesson designed to teach middle school students about cancer. Together they developed a presentation, created and tested interactive activities, and crafted a lesson plan. In Summer 2019, two of our students–Lamina and Chaka–traveled to Swarthmore to deliver their lesson to a middle school youth program. They also had the opportunity to mentor the newest cohort of Karabots Junior Fellows, delivering their cancer lesson to the new students later in the summer. The lesson, also called Mixed Signals: A Study of Cancer, is currently available to visiting field trips to The Mütter Museum (book your field trip today).

Lamina and Chaka, students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, deliver a lesson on cancer to students in the latest cohort in the program

Our students learned a great deal along the way. In addition to applying their medical learning, they strengthened their aptitude in valuable skills they can apply to any future career they pursue, including collaboration, independent study, and oral and written communications skills.

If you are thinking of visiting the Mütter Museum again or for the first time, be sure to see our new exhibits.

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.

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: Kyrie Irving’s Knee Injury

Logo for CPP Curiosities

Welcome to the third and final installment in a series of articles written by students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program. Previous articles by our students covered nineteenth century mental health and the 1918 influenza pandemic. Today, we’re shifting away from medical history to some current affairs.

On April 8, 2018, the Boston Celtics announced star point guard Kyrie Irving would miss the remainder of the 2018 NBA season following a surgery on his surgically repaired knee. The loss of Irving, the nature of his injury, and his subsequent recovery were highly-publicized topics in the world of sports punditry, and today we’re offering our own hot take. Allow me to introduce Al Ly. Al is a student in the Karabots Program, who is combining his interest in sports medicine with his love of basketball to share his thoughts on Irving’s injury.

Al, the floor is yours!

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving goes for a layup against a defender.

Kyrie Irving in 2015 Photo Credit: Erik Drost (Flickr Commons)

During the 2015 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving, point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, fractured his left knee. He underwent a surgical procedure where doctors implanted two screws to keep his kneecap in place. About 2 ½ years later, on March 24, 2018, Irving, traded to the Boston Celtics during free agency, had to undergo additional surgery. Doctors went to remove the tension wire in his left knee, but they noticed that there was an infection. The infection came from the screws he had implanted after the injury in 2015.

The knee is the largest joint in your body. It is made up of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. The three bones that form the knee joint are the femur, tibia, and patella. Tendons connect the knee bones to the leg muscles that move the knee joint. Three main ligaments provide stability to the knee. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) prevents the femur from sliding backwards to the tibia. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) prevents the femur from sliding forward to the tibia. The lateral collateral ligaments (LCL) prevents the femur from sliding side to side.

Anatomy of the knee, identifying the major parts of the knee

Anatomy of the Knee
Image Source: Bruce Blausen (Wikimedia Commons)

Your knee works like a door hinge. When you open and close a door hinge, it uses a threaded bolt secured by two nuts at the top and bottom of the hinge called acorn nuts. There is also a piece called a sleeve that protects the threaded bolt. Door plates are also part of the hinge with one connected to the door and the other to the wall. With a human knee, the threaded bolt is your knee and the sleeve is the muscle around the knee. The muscle around your knee is patella ligament and your quadriceps femoris tendon. The door plates are your bones that are around the knee, so every time you open or close a door, it’s like bending your knee. The knee is one of the easiest joints to receive an injury, especially for professional athletes who are running and jumping, and, in some sports, making full contact, on a regular basis.

When a person receives an injury like the one Irving suffered in 2015, doctors support the knee using tension wires and screws; Tension wires hold broken bones in position. When a person receives them, it can cause pain and stiffness and a sense the knee is not the same as it was before the injury. People with knee injuries go through physical therapy to regain movement and can take medication for the pain. Keeping the leg elevated will also reduce pain. In the case of Kyrie Irving, doctors discovered the wires in the Irving’s knee were causing him pain. This can happen if the wires are being knocked around, and he had been knocking them around on the court for 2 ½ years while diving for loose balls, colliding with other players, and falling to the ground.

Doctors successfully removed the two screws that had infected Irving’s knee. His season was over; however, his doctors cleared him to be healthy by training camp next season. It could have been much worse due to the infection. Osteomyelitis is an inflammation of the bone or bone marrow due to an infection caused by bacteria, mycobacteria, or fungi. It affects roughly one out of every 5,000 people. There are multiple ways to treat osteomyelitis, including antibiotics and a procedure where doctors remove unhealthy tissue. During treatment, doctors perform blood tests to monitor for signs of infection and to ensure that the treatment is effective, with follow-up visits roughly every two weeks. It usually takes 6 weeks to recover.

The areas of dead bone are hard to treat because it’s difficult for the body’s white blood cells to fight off the infection. Without adequate blood supply, some parts of the bone may die. According to Dr. Derek Ochiai, orthopedic surgeon at Nirschl Orthopedic Center in Arlington, VA, “We don’t know everything obviously, but when you have an infection with hardware, that has the potential to cede the bone. So the infection goes to the bone, which is called osteomyelitis. That can be really difficult to treat.” Left untreated, the infection could have led to swelling, fever, and life-threatening sepsis, a condition where harmful bacteria or toxins infect the bloodstream. It can also lead to fractures in the infected bone, stunted growth (in children), and gangrene. Gangrene is a condition that occurs when body tissue dies. It’s caused by loss of blood supply due to an underlying illness, injury, or infection. The most commonly affected areas are fingers, toes, and limbs. Gangrene can also occur inside your body and it damages your muscles and organs.

Depictions of gangrene's progress from an 1835 book Source: Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Depictions of gangrene’s progress from an 1835 book Source: Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Irving’s surgery attracted a lot of attention from basketball fans and the sports press. In his first public comments following the announcement of Irving’s surgery Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of Irving, “He’s really disappointed…Obviously, after the initial surgery, the thought was he’d be back in three to six weeks. We thought it would be closer to three than six, the way he was initially progressing. Just one of those things out of his control. But he’s bummed as you can imagine.” The Celtics thought he’d would be back in about a month, but they realized he had a bone infection in his left knee so it took longer than expected. Celtics fans were devastated to hear he would miss the rest of the 2017-2018 season, although the Celtics did manage to reach the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers (Irving’s former team).

Thanks, Al. Great job! If you are interested in learning more about medical history from our students, check out the links at the top of the article. Click here to learn more about the different youth programs the College of Physicians of Philadelphia has to offer.

As always, catch you on the strange side!

Sources:

Maloney, Jack. “Kyrie Irving’s knee injury and second story, explained by an orthopedic surgeon.” CBS Sports (April 10, 2018).

Weiss, Jared. “Brad Stevens explains Kyrie Irving bacterial infection knee surgery.” CelticsWire (April 6, 2018).

“What is Osteomyelitis?” Summit Medical Group.  

Zillgitt, Jeff. “Celtics star Kyrie Irving will have another knee surgery and miss the rest of the season.” USA Today (April 5, 2018).

 

CFE and WINS Youth Discuss Careers in STEM

Panelists speak to Philadelphia high school students at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

In keeping with our commitment to introducing Philadelphia youth to the diverse science, technical, and medical careers available to them, students in our four youth programs–the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship, the Out4STEM Internship, and the Girls One Diaspora Club–gathered at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia with members of the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) Program of the Academy of Natural Sciences. Together they met with a panel of outstanding women representing diverse fields in healthcare, medicine, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Joining the students were:

  • Maria Benedetto, PT, DPT, MA, PCS (CPP Fellow), Associate Clinical Professor, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Department, Drexel University
  • Joanna Chan, MD, Jefferson University Physician
  • Drisana Henry, MD, MPH, Adolescent Medical Fellow, Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Katherine Lynch, MLS, Senior Developer, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  • Loni Philip Tabb, PhD., Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Drexel University

Moderated by Kevin Impellizeri, Youth Program Coordinator, the panelists shared their personal journeys toward their fields and provided advice for aspiring medical and technological professionals. They proved there is no one set path to any career, explaining challenges and diversions they faced along the way. They also offered frank advice on challenges facing women professionals such as sexism and workplace harassment. They also shared the ways they cope with stress and how they found ways to relax when things get stressful. Our students offered insightful questions and gained a greater understanding of different professional pathways. We are extremely grateful to all the panelists who offered their time and expertise to these aspiring future professionals.

Let Curiosity Set Sail at the Independence Seaport Museum

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program pilot a small submarine in a pool in the lobby of the Independence Seaport Museum

Did you know that during the 1940s, the Delaware River was so polluted, no organisms that relied on oxygen to survive could live in it? Or that Frederick Douglas escaped slavery by posing as a sailor? This was one of many surprising facts the students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program learned during a recent visit to the Independence Seaport Museum.

Founded in 1960 as the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, the Independence Seaport Museum seeks “to deepen the understanding, appreciation, and experience of the Philadelphia region’s waterways.” It carries out its mission through exhibits, interactive activities, and historic artifacts. Among the items in their diverse collection are tools, paper records, model ships, and two historic maritime vessels: the Cruiser Olympia and the submarine USS Becuna. Recently, the Karabots Junior Fellows visited the Seaport Museum to learn more about maritime history, ecology, and the unique impact Philadelphia’s waterways have influenced local, national, and international history.

Upon their arrival, the students broke into small groups and took part in a photo scavenger hunt designed to immerse them in the exhibits, activities, and artifacts the Seaport Museum has to offer. Among the museum’s offerings are Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River, a frank depiction of the African American experience in Philadelphia relative to shipping, sea travel, and manufacturing; a recreation of the bridge of a US Navy destroyer, numerous model ships (some of which were built by inmates at Eastern State Penitentiary), and a traditional boat shop where volunteers still practice boat building.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program play a search and rescue game at the Independence Seaport Museum

After exploring the site on their own, the students took part in Ecology of the Delaware, a hands-on lesson aimed at teaching environmental history and the important role the Delaware River plays in the daily lives of people living in the Delaware Valley. During the lesson, they conducted various tests on Delaware River water, including measuring depth, temperature, PH levels, and phosphate content.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program take part in the Ecology of the Delaware lesson at the Independence Seaport Museum

After our activities concluded, several opted to stay and explore the Cruiser Olympia and the submarine USS Becuna. Overall the experience gave our students a greater appreciation of the impact of Philadelphia’s waterways.