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Oslerian Pathology Project

The Oslerian Pathology Project is a collaboration between fourth year medical students taking a Humanities Selective course and Dr. Judy Aronson, Osler Scholar and Director of the UTMB Autopsy Service. The Oslerian Pathology Project has several components.

UTMB's Gross Pathology Specimen Curation and Display
Over the last century, pathologists and professors at UTMB have preserved and displayed about 1,200 gross pathology specimens. These specimens were once on display for the public in Old Red, and many local Galvestonians can relate to you stories about visiting Old Red at night, or perhaps during the Halloween season, to view these gross specimens, many of which display remarkable pathology. At some point in the last 30 years, these specimens were removed from public display and placed into storage in another campus building.

William Osler in Murray Bay (La Malbaie), Qu├ębec, Summer of 1902
William Osler Conducting a Demonstration
in the "Green Room" at Philadelphia General Hospital,
1887 or 1889

Over the last few decades, these gross pathology specimens have fallen into disrepair and have largely been forgotten by the UTMB community. The years of neglect have taken their toll, and currently only 852 specimens remain. The Oslerian Pathology Project was born out of a desire to contribute to the education of today's medical students through utilizing this remarkable resource while respecting the will and the remains of the deceased UTMB patients whose organs still hold many lessons for those able to view them.

Today, senior medical students have the opportunity to work with Dr. Aronson while they fulfill their Basic Sciences/Humanities Selective graduation requirements by contributing to the preservation, display, and use of UTMB's Gross Pathology Specimen collection. Students select specimens from the collection which have historical significance and/or significance to the study of Osler, and create a product which accompanies and expands upon the physical specimens.

This final product has four parts:
  • Case History of the Patient and Pathologic Description of the Specimen.
  • Historical Aspects of the Disease entity
  • Osler's contribution to our modern understanding of the disease OR Osler's writings and publications about the disease
  • Information about the disease process and related topics which contribute to a modern medical student's studies. ( This is an optional activity for motivated students. )
The student contributes his or her voice to an audio recording at the end of their month working on the Oslerian Pathology Project. These audio recordings are available on this website as well as on an iPod which the McGovern Academy maintains for those who wish to experience the collection in a multimedia fashion. Dr. Mel Schreiber has donated his voice as the voice of Osler for these presentations.

Gross Pathology and Osler
William Osler was himself a talented pathologist, and performed over 1,800 autopsies in his long career. He preserved a number of specimens, particularly while professor at McGill University. Some of these specimens survive today, and pictures and clinical information survive regarding a larger number of specimens. It is of particular interest to Dr. Aronson and others participating in the Oslerian Pathology project to correlate those specimens that UTMB has with those which Osler himself learned from and preserved.

This is an introductory video on the tenets of Oslerian Pathology.
(Requires Windows Media.)

Osler Pathology Project – Media Downloads

Oslerian Pathology Specimens – Podcasts

History and Modern Understanding of Specific Diseases

Syphillis Endocarditis
  • Podcast: Infective Endocarditis - Pathology and Microbiology Meet (mp3, 4MB)
    This audio presentation details the history of our the development of our modern understanding of infective endocarditis up to Osler's time.
  • Podcast: Osler and Endocarditis (mp3, 3MB)
    This audio presentation details Osler's contribution to our modern understanding of infective endocarditis.
  • Podcast: Infective Endocarditis into the Modern Era (mp3, 8MB)
    In the era of antibiotics, the diagnostic criteria for infective endocarditis have notably evolved to reflect this still evolving clinical problem.
  • Podcast: Four Peripheral Stigmata (mp3, 3MB)
    Four peripheral stigmata are associated with infective endocarditis: Roth spots, Janeway lesions, Osler's nodes, and splinter hemorrhages. This short audio presentation details the clinical presentation and history of each of these lesions.
  • Podcast: Infective Endocarditis for Students (mp3, 4.6MB)
    This audio presentation is directed toward those second year medical students currently preparing for their National Board of Medical Examiners Step I examination.
Cardiac Hypertrophy / Aortic Stenosis / Arteriosclerosis
  • Podcast: Osler, Aortic Stenosis and Cardiac Hypertrophy (mp3, 5MB)
    Osler was considered an expert in his life on valvular heart disease. This audio presentation describes some of Osler's understanding of aortic stenosis, specifically, and delves into the topic of Osler's understanding of reactive cardiac hypertrophy, which interestingly differs significantly from our modern one.
  • Podcast: Osler's Maneuver (mp3, 1MB)
    Osler was known throughout the English speaking world as a master diagnostician, and within a single paragraph of his 1892 textbook describes an interesting physical finding he has discovered in patients with arteriosclerosis. Nearly a century later physicians studying "pseudohypertension" rigorously validated this observation and named it "Osler's Maneuver."
  • Podcast: The Hairy Hearts of Heroes: Pericarditis in History (Audio File - 9MB)
    The history of pericarditis is also a history of ancient heroes, as understanding of the pericardium and it's pathologic changes were influenced for millennia by ancient writer's discovery that after death some men's hearts were "hairy." This file also details the story of Dr. Kussmaul, who in a single case study article in 1847 contributes much to the modern medical student's confusion about this disease.
  • Podcast: Osler and Pericarditis (Audio File - 1.7 MB)
    Osler's description of the physical findings and pathogenesis of pericarditis can contribute a great deal to the modern medical student and practitioner.
  • Podcast: Cardiac Tamponade vs. Constrictive Pericarditis (Audio File - 4 MB)
    Students of medicine are often confused by the disparate physical findings of cardiac tamponade as opposed to constrictive pericarditis. In this audio file the author attempts to explain to students of medicine the difference based on the pathophysiology at work.
  • Podcast: Pericarditis for Students (Audio File - 14 MB)
    This audio presentation is directed toward those second year medical students currently preparing for their National Board of Medical Examiners Step I examination.
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