The Pulse – July 3, 2015

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    Today’s show includes a few snapshots from physicians’ lives, a game of darts that results in a research effort, a quest to create the most delicious strawberry and a new spray to battle infections.

    It’s a holiday weekend and chances are there will be drinking and fireworks––always a stellar combination. In America’s hospitals, a lot of new doctors fresh out of medical school are on the job–30,000 to be exact. Logic would tell us that this would be a terrible time to go to the hospital. But is that really the case?

    With Pope Francis taking a stance on protecting the environment, will more churches become involved with climate change activism? Pope Francis made an explicit call for action to halt climate change in his encyclical, which was published earlier this summer. His words have the power and potential to unify and inspire billions of people around the world, but for some catholics, environmentalism has long been part of their faith.

    David Fajgenbaum graduated from medical school with an intimate knowledge of illness. In his third year he was diagnosed with Castleman disease. It’s a very rare illness that attacks the immune system. Fajgenbaum first experienced flu-like symptoms, then his kidney and liver started to shut down. He was hospitalized for months, read his last rites. But after several rounds of chemo, he recovered, returned to medical school – and much more.

    Hospitals are some of the cleanest places on Earth, but also the nastiest. Shiny linoleum floors, crisp white bed sheets and hand sanitizer stations every 20 feet up against a tide of leaking wounds, gastrointestinal tract disorders and hacking coughs. The spread of germs and infection is a huge challenge for medical facilities. Take MRSA, for instance, a deadly strain of bacteria often resistant to medications. But a new disinfectant is proving effective against MRSA and similar foes.

    Beginner’s luck–the idea has been around forever. It even has it’s own wikipedia page. But does it really exist? After an argument in a bar, newly minted Drexel MDs Avir Mitra and Tom Schmicker decided to investigate this. The story involves house sparrows, slot machines, memories and more.

    It’s the end of strawberry season in the northeast – a narrow window in the late spring that’s harvest time on local farms. With competition from mass producers in Florida and California that also have long growing seasons, small producers have to compete on other grounds. The most important being taste.

    Dr. Lucy Rorke Adams entered medical school in 1953–one of five women in her class of 110. She has since had a long and illustrious career in neuropathology spanning over six decades. Today Lucy is 87 years old and just retired this week from her post of 50 years at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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