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02-17-2015

Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program Students Research History of Public Health at First U.S. Tuberculosis Lab

Clarkson University students in the Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program are learning about the history of public health at the first lab built for tuberculosis research in the United States.

From left to right, Clarkson University students Kayla Fantone, Mackenzie Toth, Brendan Elmore and Christopher Naccari learn about tuberculosis at Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum while studying at the Trudeau Institute. The course examines the history of public health in the United States.The Trudeau Institute is located in Saranac Lake, home to the internationally renowned treatment facility and research center founded in the late 1800s by Edward Livingston Trudeau. Clarkson University Associate Professor of History Laura Ettinger said Trudeau's lab was the first for tuberculosis research in the United States, so the facilities have played a central role in the history of public health in America.

As part of Ettinger’s history course, students are working with Amy Catania, executive director of Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum, on a new exhibit on the history of tuberculosis research and treatment. Students in the class also had the opportunity to work with Michele Tucker, curator of the Adirondack Research Room at the Saranac Lake Free Library, to do primary source research on the history of tuberculosis, and to visit "cure cottages," where patients once received treatment for tuberculosis.

"We're located in such an important place for the history of public health," Ettinger said. "There's nothing more valuable than hands-on work to make history come alive."

The new, three-week course also covers issues such as the controversies surrounding inoculations -- the precursor to vaccinations -- and how sick individuals were isolated during a typhoid outbreak. Ettinger said these lessons on individual liberties versus the public health mirror contemporary issues such as the recent measles outbreak and vaccine debate.

"The reason we study history is that it matters today, and it can inform decisions that we make related to public health issues," she said.

History of Public Health in America is one of five courses students will take over throughout their semester at the Trudeau Institute.

Clarkson's partnership with Trudeau gives students opportunities to work with world-class immunology researchers developing new treatments and vaccines for lethal diseases. Find out more information on the Clarkson Trudeau Biomedical Scholars Program at http://www.clarkson.edu/biosciences/ .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: From left to right, Clarkson University students Kayla Fantone, Mackenzie Toth, Brendan Elmore and Christopher Naccari learn about tuberculosis at Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum while studying at the Trudeau Institute. The course examines the history of public health in the United States.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/trudeau-semester-history.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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