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Cornell Health Physician Educates Youth Through ‘Health-Hop’

Dr. John Clarke
Cornell Health
Video clip of a doctor wearing a lab coat standing next to a caricature of himself

Dr. John Clarke started writing rap songs when he was eight years old and never stopped. Though he pursued a career in medicine rather than music, Clarke—director of occupational medicine at Cornell Health—still writes, produces, and performs rap music on health-related topics. It’s a genre he calls “health-hop.” His latest video, “Stop Corona,” aims to impart important information about coronavirus to communities of young people who might otherwise be hard to reach.

“For certain demographics, something like a rap video will resonate,” Clarke said. “And there’s a science behind why songs are effective for teaching. Rhythm and rhyme stimulate memory. Music stimulates several parts of the brain at the same time. So, a lot of time it’s easier to remember songs than it is to remember just facts.”

With lyrics such as “Stop corona/don’t be a case/be careful who gets in your personal space/don’t touch your eyes, your nose or your face,” the two-minute rap translates evidence-based science into rhyme. “I first researched in-depth about the disease, how it spreads, and the way it presents, so my message is consistent with what I would tell a patient as a doctor,” Clarke said. “In health-hop, you’re limited in the scope of words you can use to rhyme. It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge I enjoy.”

Image: Dr. John Clarke, director of occupational medicine at Cornell Health, in his recent rap video, “Stop Corona.” Provided

See the video and read the full story by Melanie Lefkowitz, Cornell Chronicle