Maddy Kienzle: Illinois Distributed Museum Exhibits on Medical Innovation (F20)

I don’t remember a time when I was not interested in history. Learning about the different cultures and civilizations developing across the world has always captivated my attention. But it was not until I got to the University of Illinois that I learned the importance of history. “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”(Teddy Roosevelt) I learned that some of the mistakes of societies in history have had massive repercussions. I also learned that it is not until a person understands the full effect of those repercussions that we develop a way to correct current problematic scenarios. So, when I found the Illinois Distributed Museum I was intrigued and excited.

When I applied to be an intern at Illinois Distributed Museum, I anticipated that I would learn about the different inventions and innovations at the University of Illinois. I did not anticipate learning about how part of the
innovations at the University were due a complete change of thought processes especially in the medical field.

One of the topics I researched was PAC-1–an anticancer drug originally designed for dogs. PAC-1 was innovative on all fronts. It was one of the first drugs that was tested on animals with cancer. Most anticancer drugs were developed by injecting mice with cancer and going from there. Innovative thinking continued with redeveloping and adjusting the anticancer drug to help late stage cancer patients. This drug helped to develop a completely different blueprint to developing antibiotics.

As my research continued, I realized that this was not a unique case of innovative thinking. In the case of nebulizer treatment for venomous snakes, they developed a treatment that had additional therapeutic benefits. Not only did the new treatment have additional benefits, but it was also less invasive and easier to administer to the infected snakes. Although medical innovations to the process and development of a drug are important, the mindset is just as valuable. In my final days researching, I learned about changing the approach to a patient to be inclusive to different cultures and financial background is extremely important for proper care. I learned about the impacts of not regarding the stigmas surrounding mental health and the repercussions of social inequality. Before my involvement with this program, I did not understand the magnitude that carefully concerning these issues can have.

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