Philly Youth Learn the Impact of Gun Violence

Students from the Karabots Junior Fellows and Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Programs pose with ballistics expert Mark Williford

One small piece of metal can change a person’s life forever. On Saturday, the Teva Interns and Karabots Junior Fellows came together to address issues in forensics, ballistics, and gun violence. Together they met with Mark Williford, a forensic ballistics expert and formerly an officer in the Philadelphia Police Department. Williford shared his experience as a police officer and crime investigator, as well as accounts from growing up in Philadelphia and his firsthand encounters with violence. More than just addressing the science of ballistics, Williford challenged the students to critically examine the impact of gun violence on individuals and communities.

Ballistics expert mark Williford talks to the Teva Interns and Karabots Junior Fellows

CEPI Students Learn the Science of Deception Detection


Image of a polygraph

Source: spiralstares [Flickr], used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (, no changes made

A few weeks ago, students in both the Karabots Junior Fellows Program and the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program learned career development skills through a hands-on demonstration in lie detection. A student from each program volunteered to take to a crude lie detector test, administered by Youth Program Coordinator Kevin Impellizeri. Kevin asked  a series of questions, beginning with simple ones (“What is your name?”) and ending with more challenging ones (“Have you ever cheated on a test?”), all the while he monitored their pulse. Kevin assures us he cannot tell whether someone is lying; merely, he was monitoring their physical response to his line of questioning. In fact, despite its depictions in popular culture as an infallible measure of truth or deception, polygraphs (“lie detector machines”) do not measure whether or not a person is telling the truth; rather they monitor the body’s physical response to questioning (what the American Polygraph Association describes as the “Physiological Detection of Deception“). Polygraphs are designed to measure changes in heart rate, respiration, and perspiration, and (in theory) a trained technician can measure this biological feedback to tell whether or not a subject is lying.

However, whether or not polygraphs actually “work” is a subject of considerable debate. In 2003, the National Research Council published a detailed report on polygraphs. The report, titled The Polygraph and Lie Detection, put polygraph usage into question and, among other things, cited a lack of standardized practices for questioning and the existence of countermeasures designed to “beat” a polygraph as reasons to doubt their effectiveness.  In 2004, the American Psychological Association came out against polygraph examination, describing the practice as “more myth than reality.” Polygraph results are inadmissable as evidence in court cases in the United States; however they are still utilized to monitor paroled prison inmates and to screen candidates for jobs in law enforcement. Ironically, the Philadelphia Police Department discontinued polygraph tests for new cadets in 2003, citing lack of reliability, only to reinstate them in 2011 to paradoxically add greater integrity to the police hiring process.

So why subject our students to a lie detector test? Job training! While the chances of being subjected to a polygraph test in one’s lifetime are remote, everyone at some point has to go on a job interview, and it has been well documented that how well one conducts themselves in an interview is essential. After a lesson on polygraphs, members of CEPI borrowed from the “Physiological Detection of Deception” by going over ways to behave during a job interview, including monitoring one’s verbal and nonverbal cues (body language, eye contact, timing of responses, etc.). This was followed with practice interviews to help prepare the students for success.

CEPI Now Accepting Applications for the 2016/2017 TEVA Internship Program!


Is violence a problem in your community? Do you want to learn more about the causes, effects and possible solutions?
• Do you want to spend time working with like-minded, motivated students from across the City?
• Are you interested in science, health, and technology fields like forensics, medicine, and physical therapy?

If you answered YES to these questions, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s 2016 TEVA Pharmaceuticals Internship could be for you!

Students in the Teva Program pose with Thierry and Florence Momplaisir

We are recruiting and selecting 16 Philadelphia high school students to be TEVA Interns. These interns will explore the impact of violence on themselves and their communities while building skills and improving their understanding of science and technology.

Our program will focus on the following areas:

• 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

Teva interns share their thoughts on racism at the Racism is a Sickness installation

Students will work closely with College staff, the collections of the College’s Mütter Museum, and experts from a variety of fields and institutions.

To apply for the Program, download an application HERE. All applicants must secure a letter of recommendation from an academic, volunteer, or community adviser, permission from their parent/guardian, and complete an essay. Applications must be postmarked by MAY 2, 2016!

To learn more about the program, check out the TEVA Internship Program website. For information about past activities and events related to the TEVA Internship Program check out our Archive.

Philly Youth Navigate the Trenches at Fort Mifflin

Our students learn about the Battle of Verdun from a french re-enactor at Fort Mifflin

On March 5, students from the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship and Karabots Junior Fellows Program took a field trip out of Philadelphia proper to visit historic Fort Mifflin. Fort Mifflin was commissioned in 1771 as a coastal defense Fort to protect Philadelphia from invaders and pirates. During its 183 years as an active military base, it was the site of the largest bombardment of the Revolutionary War (November 10-15, 1777), rebuilt as part of America’s first coastal defense system (the First and Second American Systems), served as a Union Army prison during the Civil War, and acted as an ammunition depot for the United States Navy during the First and Second World Wars. Today it serves as a historic site and museum.

A Teva fellow learns about the life of a World War I soldier from a German re-enactor at Fort Mifflin

The students visited the Fort to attend an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun (Feb-Dec 1916), a crucial battle during World War I. Students got the chance to interact with reenactors from both the Allies and Central Powers to learn about the history of the Battle, the equipment soldiers carried and the human toll of the Battle, which left roughly 300,000 dead and 750,000 wounded. While at the Fort, they also explored the site, which includes underground shelters, historic ammunition magazines, and a long-buried Civil War prison cell that once held a Union prisoner who was later executed at the Fort. They even got to witness the firing of a Revolutionary War cannon! Braving cold and muddy conditions (they quickly learned why Fort Mifflin earned the nickname “The Mud Island”), everyone expressed excitement over the trip.  After an exciting visit, they returned to the College with new-found perspective on “The Great War.”

Cannon firing demonstration at Fort Mifflin

The Teva and Karabots Fellows Explore the Small World of Microphotography

Teva and Karabots students explore the Small Worlds Exhibit at the Wistar Institute

Recently, students in the Karabots and Teva programs took a trip to the Wistar Institute where they got to get a close look at a mixture of photographic art and microscopic science.

The Wistar Institute was founded in 1892 as a anatomical museum (not unlike the Mütter Museum) and evolved into a state-of-the-art biomedical research facility. Today the site is designated as a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center in basic research. Scientists at the Wistar have played a role in identifying the genes associated with a variety of cancers as well as breakthrough research into vaccines, antibodies and other aspects of medicine.

The Wistar is also a host for the Nikon Small World Exhibition. The Small World Exhibit is the culmination of an annual photography contest where contestants submit artistically-treated microscopic images. The images cover a variety of subject matter, including plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms (see the 2015 winners). Through complex photo editing techniques, the photographers bring the microscopic images to life in vibrant color.

James Hayden presents different micro photographic techniques to the Karabots and Teva fellows

The students met with James Hayden, Managing Director of Imaging Shared Resource, who took them through the exhibition and the technical and scientific work that made it possible.

Teva and Karabots students explore the Small Worlds Exhibit at the Wistar Institute

If you would like to explore the Small World exhibition for yourself, it will be at the Wistar Institute through March 6 before heading to the Texas Museum of Science & Technology in Cedar Park, TX (full schedule). For more events and activities at the Wistar Institute, check their events schedule.

The Teva Interns Diagnose Racism

Teva Interns meet with Tieshka Smith to discuss her installation: Racism is a Sickness

In addition to teaching students about healthcare, the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program seeks to explore the impact of violence on society. Last week our interns met with Tieshka Smith, a healthcare administrator, artist, and social activist, to discuss the symptoms and possible cures of racial injustice.

Surgical masks and an exhibit label from Racism is a Sickness

Her project, appropriately titled Racism Is A Sickness, seeks to create a safe environment to discuss and examine the impact of racial injustice on communities and find ways to promote healing and empowerment. The centerpiece of the installation is a series of photographs of fourteen Philadelphia individuals who shared personal accounts of racial injustice. As part of the piece, each subject wears a surgical mask inscribed with a word describing how racism makes him/her feel; the backdrop to each photograph is the American flag hung upside down in the universal symbol of distress.  The exhibit also includes several interactive elements where visitors can share their own thoughts and emotions: a wall where visitors can post the names of people close to them who were victims of racial violence, and a message board for visitors to share their thoughts on what they feel racial injustice means to them and to America.

Teva interns take part in activities with Tieshka Smith at her installation, Racism is a Sickness

Tieskha encouraged the Teva fellows to share their own thoughts about how racism makes them feel and discuss possible means of coping with those feelings. Getting teenagers to open up about difficult subjects is no easy task, but she made it look easy.

Teva interns share their thoughts on racism at the Racism is a Sickness installation

Racism Is A Sickness will be running at the Art Church of West Philadelphia through February 29. It will then appear at the Community College of Philadelphia from April 11-15 as part of Diversity Week with plans to travel to other Philadelphia locations through 2016 and 2017, followed by venues outside the city in 2018. For more information about the project, be sure to check out her site on Tumblr.


Philly Teens Kick Off PA Teen Health Week

PA Teens pose with Dr. Loren Robinson

Philadelphia area teens pose with Dr. Loren Robinson at the PA Teen Health Week proclamation, 1/25/2016

We are proud to be part of the first annual Pennsylvania Teen Health Week. Taking place from January 25-29, 2016, PA Teen Health Week focuses on raising awareness of all aspects of teen health issues including diet, self-harm, and mental and sexual health. It is the first such awareness week of its kind in the country. Yesterday afternoon the College of Physicians of Philadelphia hosted an event to officially kick off PA Teen Health Week with the help of some special guests. This initiative has been spearheaded by the Section on Public Health and Preventative Medicine of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Laura Offutt, MD, one of the driving forces behind PA Teen Health Week introduced the program. She is the founder of Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, an interactive web-based program devoted to informing teens about health issues that directly affect them. Working with a team of teenagers, Dr. Offutt has tackled such issues as bullying, reproductive health, and nutrition (Teens interested in health issues can also anonymously submit questions for future topics).

Following Dr. Offutt on was Loren Robinson, MD, MSHP, FAAP, the Deputy Secretary for Health, Promotion, and Disease Prevention, for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She spoke on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania about the issues PA Teen Health Week addresses, emphasizing that the week is to promote awareness of all the health issues facing teens today.

However the highlight of the event came when seven local teens read aloud Governor Tom Wolf’s proclamation to kick off the week. Included in the group were teens from the College’s Youth Programs run through CEPI, who braved the elements to be there.

Philly teens read Gov. Tom Wolfe's proclamation to kick of PA Teen Health Week


CEPI is excited to be a part of this great event, and we are all proud of the students who came to show their support!