The Kate Hurd-Mead Lecture: Dr. John Langdon Down, Prenatal Diagnosis, and Disability Advocacy

Dr. Jan Goplerud, Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, The Section on Medical History of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Legacy Center of Drexel University College of Medicine (DUCOM)

Monday, March 18, 2019 - 6:30pm

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
19 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

When public institutions for the mentally disabled opened in England in the mid-1800’s, need-specific residential care and education was an “enlightened” approach to a societal problem. Dr. John Langdon Down, the first medical superintendent of the Earlswood Asylum for Idiots, noted a striking physical resemblance of some patients and published their description in 1866 – a characterization now known as Down Syndrome.
Since Dr. Down's observations, the features and genetic origin of trisomy 21 have the prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 21 from maternal blood sampling. In the same 150 years, the concept of institutionalizing the mentally disabled has fallen out of favor and disability advocates lobby to restrict or ban abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome. With universal prenatal diagnosis a reality, the medical team is challenged to balance its duty to society, individual families, and the unborn.

About Dr. Jan Goplerud:
Dr. Jan Goplerud is a neonatologist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Hahnemann University Hospital and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. She received her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

About Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead:
An 1888 graduate of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead was a successful physician, leader and organizer of medical women, medical writer, lecturer and supporter of the work of women doctors everywhere. Following her internship in Boston, studies at Johns Hopkins University and in Europe, she served as medical director at the Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, where she also helped establish a dispensary for working women.
She entered private practice in Middletown, Connecticut and attended at the town’s hospital. But it was her determination to tell the whole story of women’s place in medicine, resulting in the incomparable History of Women in Medicine from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Nineteenth-Century (1938) that became her legacy. Dr. Hurd-Mead completed the manuscript of Volume 2, updating the pioneers of the entire eastern hemisphere from Australia to Ireland and a third volume, covering the western hemisphere was underway at her death.