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Sarah W. Tracy
 The University of Oklahoma Honors College
 David L. Boren Hall
 1300 Asp, Norman, OK 73019

Office Tel: 405-325-5291


Curriculum vitae

Medical Humanities

 In 2000, the University of Oklahoma Honors College and the College of Medicine created a partnership to further the study of humanities in relationship to medicine. Today, at the Honors College there are two programs for students interested in pursuing study in the medical humanities: the Medical Humanities Scholars Program (a highly competitive academic and extracurricular program for graduating high school seniors who know they wish to attend medical school) and the Medical Humanities Minor (a stimulating and flexible interdisciplinary curriculum open to any honors-eligible student at OU; the minor is administered by the Honors College alone). The first three classes of Medical Humanities Scholars have now graduated from the OU College of Medicine, where the new Curriculum 2010 has integrated medical humanities courses into the first two years of medical school. Likewise, dozens of students have taken advantage of the Medical Humanities Minor, concentrating their studies in the history of medicine, literature and medicine, cross-cultural perspectives on health and disease, bioethics and medical ethics, music therapy, and health care policy. Please take a moment to learn more about the exciting venues for studying “the art of medicine” at OU and at other institutions by exploring our new website.

Sarah W. Tracy

Edith Kinney Gaylord Presidential Professor
Associate Professor
Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College

Sarah W. TracyA.B. with honors, History of Science, Harvard University, 1985
M.A., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1987
Ph.D., History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, 1992

Sarah W. Tracy began teaching at the Honors College in 1999. She is an historian of medicine whose research extends into the related disciplines of food studies, medical sociology, health policy, and biography. Her research focuses on the relationship between diet (food and drink) and health and chronic disease in the United States between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.

Tracy is currently writing a biography of nutritional physiologist and cardiovascular epidemiologist Ancel Keys (1904-2004). Keys is best known as an early champion of the Mediterranean Diet. He also believed that diets rich in saturated fat caused heart disease, an idea known as the “diet-heart hypothesis.” Keys contributed to many areas of science, however. He organized the International High Altitude Expedition of 1935; developed the U.S. Army's K-Ration; and conducted the famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment to help guide post-WWII re-feeding efforts in Europe. A subject in I.Q. psychologist Lewis Terman’s longitudinal study of 1500 “gifted” children, Keys felt the weight of high expectations throughout his life. As the nephew of silent screen star Lon Chaney, Keys also filmed all of his scientific work and was a first-rate publicist, frequently writing for popular audiences. In 1959, he and his wife Margaret Haney Keys published a best-selling cookbook, Eat Well and Stay Well. This volume was revised and re-published as Eat Well and Stay Well the Mediterranean Way in 1975 and was among the first books to popularize the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Tracy’s biography Health Revolutionary: The Life and Science of Ancel Keys is on schedule for completion in 2018.

Tracy’s first book was a biography of a disease, alcoholism. Alcoholism in America from Reconstruction to Prohibition was published in 2005 (paperback in 2007) by Johns Hopkins University Press. In 2004, Tracy co-edited with Caroline Jean Acker a collection of essays entitled Altering American Consciousness: The History of Alcohol and Drug Use in the United States, 1800-2000 (University of Massachusetts Press). She has also co-edited with Australian historian Alison Bashford a special issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Winter 2012) devoted to the evolving relationship between climate and human health. Her essay on Ancel Keys and the International High Altitude Expedition of 1935 features in this issue.

Tracy teaches courses for honors students and medical students on historical and ethical issues in American medicine and public health; food in American culture; the development of global, national, and local food systems; the history of alcohol and drug use in the United States, the sociology of science, and biography as a vehicle for exploring science and American history. Working with the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Tracy built and continues to direct the University of Oklahoma Medical Humanities Program, which features both a minor in the medical humanities and an 8-year combined BA-MD Medical Humanities Scholars Program.

Sarah Tracy earned her Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Honors College, she taught at the Universities of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Yale. In 2008, she was a visiting professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. Tracy has received numerous awards and fellowships, including those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Library of Medicine, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute for Mental Health, the New York Academy of Medicine, the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard’s Countway Medical Library, and the American Association of University Women. She is a former council member of the American Association for the History of Medicine and a former chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges Group on Combined Baccalaureate-MD Programs, and currently sits on the Advisory Editorial Board of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.

A former bike racer and an avid hiker, Tracy organized her own expedition to the Chilean Andes in 2011 to retrace the footsteps of the Keys-organized journey to 20,000 feet and the International High Altitude Expedition of 1935.

Recent Publications

  Altering American consciousness

Altering American consciousness:
the history of alcohol and drug use  
in the United States, 1800-2000
(Amherst, Mass.: University of
Massachusetts Press, 2004)

  Alcoholism in America

Alcoholism in America:
 from reconstruction to prohibition

 (Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins
 University Press, 2007).

“From Caloric Requirements to the Mediterranean Diet—Ancel Keys, the FAO, and the Global Quest for an Optimal Diet, 1949-58,” International History Review, forthcoming 2018.

"No Neutral Spirit: Alcohol and Health in the Age of Empire," A Cultural History of Alcohol in the Age of Industry, Empire and War. London and New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, forthcoming 2017.

“Interdisciplinary Interprofessionalism at Mid-Century: Ancel Keys, Human Biology, and the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, 1940-1950,” Nursing History Review, 24, 2016, 81-89.

"Eloge: Henrika "Riki" Kuklick," ISIS--The International Review Journal of the History of Science, December 2014, 815-18.

"The Changing Identity of Alcoholism, 1800-2014," MDAdvisor—Journal for the New Jersey Medical Community, 7, no. 3, Summer 2014, 8-13.     

 “Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science, Medicine, and Technology, Hugh Slotten, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 

“Something New Under the Sun? The Mediterranean Diet and Cardiovascular Health,” New England Journal of Medicine, 4 April 2013, 368:1274-1276 

 “The Scope and Variety of Combined Baccalaureate-MD Programs in the United States,” Eaglen, RH, Tracy, SW et al., Academic Medicine, November 2012, 1600-1608.

 “Alcohol: History of Drinking in the United States,” Pamela Korsmeyer and Henry Kranzler, eds., Encyclopedia of Drugs and Addictive Behavior, Vol. 1, Third Edition, Gale Cengage, Farmington Hills, MI, 2008, pp. 96-101.

 “Prohibition of Alcohol,” Encyclopedia of Drugs and Addictive Behavior, Pamela Korsmeyer and Henry Kranzler, eds., Vol. 3, Third Edition, Gale Cengage, Farmington Hills, MI, 2008, pp. 303-307.

 “Medicalizing Alcoholism 100 Years Ago,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 15, (2), March/April 2007.




 Bulletin for the History of Medicine, Winter, 2012

 “Introduction” with Alison Bashford, “Modern Airs, Waters, and Places” special issue, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Winter 2012, 495-514.

 “The Physiology of Extremes: Ancel Keys and the International High Altitude Expedition of 1935,” “Modern Airs, Waters, and Places,” special issue, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Winter 2012, 627-660.