Class Notes & Profiles

Afraid to Ask?

By Micah Buis '02

Boils, scabies, diarrhea…these are just a few of the topics Jonathan Bertman ’86 (left) and Charles Schachter (right) ’86 confront daily on their Website, “The site was born back in 1996, when [Jon and I] looked at the large well-known health sites like WebMD and realized they lacked pictures, graphics, or much detail, especially on sensitive topics,” said Schachter. “One of the first topics we tackled was STDs.” Bertman, a trained M.D., added, “I believe many people think sporadically, if not regularly, about these [topics], and the anonymity of a medical Website makes this the perfect setting to get [their] questions answered.” With over 100,000 visitors to the site every month, Bertman said, “Our bulletin board is an always-evolving cross section of current societal concerns and has thousands of questions by people of all ages. People post comments or questions and others respond with their own personal opinions and experiences.”

Bertman, a biochemistry major, and Schachter, an English major, acknowledged the interesting way Vassar’s liberal arts emphasis impacts the site. Bertman said, “In each of our guides we try to start with an example of how artists have looked at these personal topics. Mapplethorpe’s “Man in a Polyester Suit” introduces our male genitalia guide, Dürer’s “Adam and Eve” introduces the STD guide, and Courbet’s “L’Origine du Monde” (“The Origin of the World”) introduces the female genitalia guide.”