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Carla C. Keirns, MD, PhD, MSc, FACP

Carla Keirns portrait
Associate Professor, History and Philosophy of Medicine

Associate Professor, Palliative Medicine

Professional Background

My research is at the intersection of public health and public policy, using a variety of methods and perspectives to answer questions about the social context of chronic disease, health disparities, and end-of-life care. I have used historical methods to understand the changing epidemiology of acute and chronic diseases in the past two centuries, and how medicine has and has not changed to meet changing population needs. I have used ethical analysis to look at questions of social justice in clinical medicine, public health, and social policy. And I have used both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore contemporary problems such as how and why different individuals and communities receive different kinds of health care across the life span, from studies of childhood asthma in urban communities to patterns of end-of-life care in different regions of the US. I have authored articles and book chapters in clinical ethics, health services research, and history of medicine, with a focus on health disparities, end of life care, chronic disease, epidemiologic transitions and public health ethics. I also served as co-curator to the National Library of Medicine’s exhibition, “Breath of Life” on the history of asthma and is completing a book, Measured Breath: A Short History of Asthma, for Johns Hopkins University Press.

I teach ethics, humanities and health policy within the medical curriculum, as well as to medical residents and fellows.

My clinical practice includes attending on the inpatient adult palliative care service at the University of Kansas Hospital and serving as a clinical ethics consultant at the medical center.

Before joining the faculty at KU Medical Center, I served as assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, Medicine andamp; History at Stony Brook University (SUNY) and Associate Director of their Center for Medical Humanities and Associate Director of their Palliative Care Program.

Among my awards are an Investigator Award in Health Policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a Gold Foundation-Harvard Macy Award for Medical Education and fellowships and awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH), the Dewitt Stetten Jr. Museum of Medical Research and the NIH Office of History, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH), the Woodrow Wilson National Foundation (Johnson andamp; Johnson Fellowship), the Benjamin andamp; Mary Siddons Measey Foundation, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. I have worked, taught and observed in health care settings in the United States, Australia, Mexico and Botswana, and taught public health in Jamaica.

Education and Training
  • BA, Biological Sciences--Genetics and Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
  • Other, Genetics, Molecular Biology and Australian History and Literature, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, Sydney, NSW
  • MA, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • PhD, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA, Philadelphia, PA
  • MD, Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • MSC, Health & Health Care Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Other, Clinical Ethics, Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University), Schenectady, NY, USA, Schenectady, NY
  • Other, University of Pennsylvania
  • Other, University of Michigan
Licensure, Accreditations & Certifications
  • Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine, Hospice & Palliative Medicine
  • Kansas State Board of Healing Arts
Professional Affiliations
  • Palliative Care Research Collaborative, Qualitative Research Committee, Member, 2019 - Present
  • Elected Member, American Osler Society, Rochester, MN, Member, 2011 - Present
  • American Association for Hospice & Palliative Medicine, Member, 2010 - Present
  • Elected Member, New York Academy of Medicine, New York, NY, Member, 2010 - Present
  • Elected Fellow, American College of Physicians, Member, 2001 - Present
  • American Association for the History of Medicine, Member, 1994 - Present