Tag Archives: Penn Medicine

A Brief History of ADHD Medications and Penn

Author: Lynn Carroll, C’93

Seventy-five years ago, Penn neurology professor Matthew Molitch started it all with research funded by Smith Kline & French.  His 1930s study, “The Effect of Benzedrine Sulfate on Children Taking the new Stanford Achievement Test,” tested teenage boys in a New Jersey home for delinquents, some of whom were given the stimulant Benzedrine, some who received a placebo.  He found that the boys who scored lowest on the test initially made the largest improvements after taking a higher dose of the drug.

Fast forward to today, and ADHD medications are routinely prescribed to children and youth, many of whom have demonstrated symptoms for years and find the medication immensely helpful. Alumnus Alan Schwarz, C’90, recently wrote a well-researched, thoughtful article for The New York Times about students who use (or abuse) ADHD medications to “focus during tests.”  As a math major who wrote for the DP, Schwarz is ideally suited to asking the right questions, sifting through the data, and expressing results in compelling language.

“Now I have to worry about this, too? Really? This shouldn’t be what they need to do to get where they want to, ” said Dodi Sklar, after listening to her ninth-grade son, Jonathan, describe how some classmates abuse stimulants. Photo by Lisa Wiltse for The New York Times.

Just behind the Quad in the Goddard Building, psychology professor Dr. Martha Farah is asking questions about some of the same issues as director of the Center for Neuroscience & Society.  Neurology professor Dr. Anjan Chatterjee M’85 is also a leader in neuroethics in the area of brain enhancement, or as he calls it, “cosmetic neurology.”  The Gazette featured their work in a 2009 article, “Are Better Brains Better?

Penn researchers continue to ask questions and seek answers.  Dr. Farah and her colleagues are asking questions like Are Prescription Stimulants “Smart Pills”? Dr. Chatterjee continues to grapple with where exactly the line is between neurological treatment and enhancement.  Drs. Anthony Rostain and J. Russell Ramsay head Penn Medicine’s Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program.  The first National ADHD Youth Leadership Summit will be held July 7 in Houston Hall.  Stay tuned, as the next 75 years should prove to be very enlightening.


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lynn Carroll

Want to Win $10,000 and Save Lives by Using Your Cell Phone?

Author: Kelly Porter O’Connor

Thanks to the MyHeartMap Challenge team, an interdisciplinary group of Penn researchers, behind this six week long crowd-sourcing contest — now you can!

Led by Raina Merchant, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and senior fellow in the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Eric Stone, C’99, WG’07,  The My HeartMap Challenge team has developed a free app you can install on your mobile phone.

Participants will take photos and geotag these life-saving Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices to collect data for an updated app linking locations of all public AEDs in the city with a person’s GPS coordinates to help them locate the nearest AED during an emergency.

The contest is just a first step in what the Penn team hopes will grow to become a nationwide, crowd-sourced AED registry project that will put the lifesaving devices in the hands of anyone, anywhere, anytime.  The project is modeled after the DARPA Network Challenge, a crowd-sourcing experiment in which social media users raced to be the first to submit the locations of 10 moored, 8-foot, red, weather balloons at 10 fixed locations throughout the United States.

The stakes for the MyHeartMap Challenge are high: the person or team who finds the most AEDs during the contest will win $10,000, and their efforts could save lives in the critical minutes following cardiac arrest.  Many of you have probably read about recent incidents in Philadelphia where the use of an AED device has saved someone’s life.

AEDs are located all around us in plain sight –  at work, the grocery store, your Septa stop…All you have to do to participate is register online, download the app and start tagging. The contest and app launch at the end of January. With the launch close at hand, I encourage you to form a team to help kick-start this Penn based challenge, save lives and possibly win a huge chunk of change!

Check out the project’s website or friend them on Facebook to receive contest clues and learn more about the challenge and or find out more information about the value of these life-saving devices — used to restore cardiac arrest victims’ hearts to their normal rhythm.

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Filed under Campus Life, Kelly P., Videos