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: Mental Health and “Moral Treatment”

Logo for CPP Curiosities

Greetings and salutations, fellow historico-medico afficionados, and welcome to another installment of CPP Curiosities, our semi-regular segment on the unusual and interesting aspects of medical history. Past articles have covered a variety of topics, from historic treatments for syphilis to the preservation of Lenin’s remains to the Greek and Roman god of medicine.

Today’s issue is the first in a three-part series of guest articles written by students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program. The KJF Program is a three-year after-school and summer internship for Philadelphia high school students from underserved communities who have an interest in careers in healthcare and medicine. These two wrote these articles as part of a two-week summer internship wherein they worked closely with staff in the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and conducted original research on a topic of their choice. First up is Yazmeen Robinson, who chose to research “moral treatment,” a 19th century mental health practice.

Take it away, Yazmeen!  –KI

Seven female patients in the "Insane Department" at Philadelphia General Hospital sit around a small table.

“Patients in insane department,” Philadelphia General Hospital Photograph Collection, Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, box 2, photo no. 7

Psychiatric hospitals were built for those who were suffering from mental illness and could somehow recover from it. During the nineteenth-century in the United States, there were new European ideas about the treatment of people who were mentally ill. These ideas were called “moral treatment” which promised treatment for those with mental illness in an asylum. During the 19th century, they thought that by treating the patients more like children rather than an animal, patients would have a better chance at recovering. Treating the patients as individuals and helping them to gain control of themselves was very important. Moral treatment at the asylum was connected with occupational therapy, religion, and their community. Moral treatment usually didn’t include traditional treatments like physical restraints.

The moral treatment of the insane refused to associate with the disruptive behavior of mentally ill individuals. Some people with mental illness were too violent or disruptive to stay at their homes or in their communities. Some people with mental illness received treatment at home other than a hospital.

Friends Asylum was established by Philadelphia’s Quaker community in 1814, which was the first institute designed to perform the full program of moral treatment. The Friends Asylum wasn’t run by physicians. It was run by lay staff, which made it unique. Private hospitals were more available to wealthier families to care for their mentally ill family member.

At Taunton Hospital in Massachusetts, there was a lower story that was built and designed for patients that were uncontrollable or considered “filthy.” The Taunton Lunatic Asylum Casebook (1854-1868) has 240 entries with patients’ names, mental states, family histories, and financial status. These records contained information about patients’ profession, lineage, time in America, ships sailed on, and whether their taxes had been paid.

Page from Taunton Lunatic Asylum casebook (1854 - 1868), MSS 6/011, Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Page from Taunton Lunatic Asylum casebook (1854 – 1868), MSS 6/011, Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Here are two patient records that I found interesting:

pg. 101:

Weigandt, Louis, 41, admitted April 3,1860, Boston
Hopeless and quiet
German in Boston, 12 years, wife lives at 70 Crystal Palace, Luicida St.
Mr. Nash reports Weigandt born in Germany, landed in New York how long ago unknown. Parents never in U.S.; Weigandt had lived mostly in Boston.
Wife Jane born in Marblehead, no doubt has a set[?] there
Is cousins with cashier of Marblehead Bank
Mr. Locke says wife [?] care of [?] Crystal Palace

pg. 96:

Copeland, John, 29, admitted Feburary 24, 1860 North Bedford
Doubtful and troublesome; now has been very [?]; fugitive slave; can go as far as health is concerned
Mr. Locke says [Copeland] born in Newburn, North Carolina
Feb 23rd 1863: He [Copeland] says does not know where he was born first found himself in Newburn. Then to Duplin County, there 4 years, came to Philadelphia in 1855 from Wilmington, thence to New York and Albany. 2 years in Albany, then to Wilton County, 9 months there, then to North Bedford, 2 months there. Send to Philadelphia.

Today there are only a few psychiatric hospitals that exist. Psychiatric care is now delivered through other services, such as crisis service. Doctors today gives patients psychiatric medications, such as, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood-stabilizing medications, which help treat, but do not completely cure, mental illness. Depending on how severe the patient’s mental illness is, the treatment that will be given could be a mixed treatment. Today there is a treatment team that helps with a patient’s unique recovery plan, which includes educational programs, support groups, and counseling.

Thanks, Yazmeen! Be sure to check back, dear reader, for our second installment soon. Until next time. Catch you on the strange side!

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.