Carla Keirns, MD, PhD, MSc, FACP

Associate Director for Medical Education
Director of the Program on the History of Medicine
Research Director in Palliative Medicine
Member of the Institutional Ethics Committee

Assistant Professor
Department of Preventive Medicine
Department of Medicine Department of History

Clinical Ethics
History of Medicine
Sociology of Medicine
Health Services Research


Carla Keirns is Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Clinical Ethicist at Stony Brook University. She graduated from Cornell University (BA, Genetics and Development), the University of Pennsylvania (MD, PhD in History & Sociology of Science), and the University of Michigan (MS, Health & Health Care Research); completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a postdoctoral fellowship in health services research at the University of Michigan through the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.

Carla joined the faculty at Stony Brook University in July 2009 where she contributes to the ethics consultation service at University Hospital, teaches medical humanities and preventive medicine to medical students, and serves as an Attending Physician and Associate Director in Palliative Medicine. She has 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. She was 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.

Among Carla's honors 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 & Johnson Fellowship), the Benjamin & Mary Siddons Measey Foundation, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. She has worked in health care settings in the United States, Australia, Mexico and Botswana, and taught public health in Jamaica.

Breath of Life: Asthma in Historical Perspective, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, Open in Bethesda March 1999 to March 2001, Co-Curator with Dr. Robert Aronowitz, published by NHLBI as a DVD, Online at:

Keirns, Carla C. Measured Breath: A Short History of Asthma, book on the history and sociology of asthma in the United States from 1850s to the 21st century, under contract after peer review, Johns Hopkins University Press

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Matthew DeCamp, Neil J. Farber, Alexia M. Torke, Maura George, Zachary Berger, Carla C. Keirns, Lauris C. Kaldjian, Ethical Challenges for Accountable Care Organizations: A Structured Review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, October 2014; 29(10): 1392-9.

Stephen G. Post, John Pomeroy, Carla C. Keirns, Virginia Isaacs Cover, Michael Leverett Dorn, Louis and Florence Boroson, Anne Coulehan, Jack Coulehan, Kim Covell, Kim Kubasek, Elizabeth Luchsinger, Shana Nichols, James Parles, Linda Scheiber, Samara Tetenbaum, Rose Ann Walsh, Brief report: Stony Brook Guidelines on the Ethics of the Care of People with Autism and Their Families, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, June 2013; 43(6): 1473-6.

Natalie R. Sampson, Edith A. Parker, Rebecca R. Cheezum, Toby C. Lewis, Ashley O’Toole, Adriana Zuniga, Jean Patton, Thomas G. Robins, Carla C. Keirns, “I wouldn’t look at it as stress”: Conceptualizations of caregiver stress among low-income families of children with asthma, Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, February 2013; 24(1):275-88.

Natalie R. Sampson, Edith A. Parker, Rebecca R. Cheezum, Toby C. Lewis, Ashley O’Toole, Jean Patton, Adriana Zuniga, Thomas G. Robins, Carla C. Keirns, A Life Course Perspective on Stress and Health Among Caregivers of Children With Asthma in Detroit, Family and Community Health, January-March 2013; 36(1): 51-62.

Comilla Sasson, Carla C. Keirns, Dylan Smith, Michael Sayre, Michelle Macy, William Meurer, Bryan F McNally, Arthur L Kellermann, Theodore J Iwashyna, Examining the Contextual Effects of Neighborhood on Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest and the Provision of Bystander Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Resuscitation, 2011 Jun; 82(6): 674-9.

Keirns, Carla C and Thicklin F. Physician, Researcher, Neighbor—Conflicting Roles in Community-Based Participatory Research. Virtual Mentor. February 1, 2011; 13(2): 86-93. Accessed February 2, 2011.

Sasson, Comilla, Carla C. Keirns, Dylan Smith, Michael Sayre, Michelle Macy, William Meurer, Bryan F. McNally, Arthur L. Kellermann, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Small Area Variations in Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest: Does the Neighborhood Matter? Annals of Internal Medicine, 2010 Jul 6;153(1):19-22.

Lee JM, Pilli S, Gebremariam A, Keirns CC, Davis MM, Vijan S, Freed GL, Herman WH, Gurney JG. Getting Heavier, Younger: Birth Cohort Effects on Obesity over the Life Course. International Journal of Obesity (Lond). 2010 Apr; 34(4): 614-23.

Keirns, Carla C. “Asthma Mitigation Strategies of Professional, Charitable and Community-Based Coalitions,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 2009; 37(6S1): S244-S250.

Keirns, Carla C. & Susan Dorr Goold, Patient-Centered Care and Pay for Performance, JAMA, October 28, 2009; 302(16): 1805-6.

Keirns, Carla C. & Susan D. Goold, “Dirty Blood,” Hastings Center Reports, September-October 2009; 39(5): 13-14.

Delisser, Horace M., Carla C. Keirns, Esther A. Clinton & Mitchell L. Margolis, “The Air Got to It”: Exploring a Belief about Surgery for Lung Cancer. Journal of the National Medical Association, August 2009; 101(8): 765-771.

Newton, Manya F., Carla C. Keirns, Rebecca Cunningham, Rodney Hayward, Rachel Stanley, “Uninsured Adults Presenting to US Emergency Departments: Assumptions vs Data" JAMA, October 22/29, 2008; 300: 1914 - 1924.

DeVries, Raymond & Carla C. Keirns, “Does Money Make Bioethics Go ‘Round?” American Journal of Bioethics, August 2008; 8(8): 65-67.

Keirns, Carla C. & Brendan Carr, “From the Emergency Department to Vital Statistics: Cause of Death Uncertain,” Academic Emergency Medicine, August 2008; 15(8) 768-775.

Keirns, Carla C. & Charles L. Bosk, “The Unintended Consequences of Training Residents in Dysfunctional Outpatient Settings,” Academic Medicine, May 2008; 83(5): 498-502.

Dorn, Michael L., Novella Zett Keith & Carla C. Keirns, “Crossing the Divide through Edu-Tourism: A North-South Partnership in Community-Based Learning,” Caribbean Geographer, March 2008; 15(1): 59-75.

Book Chapters
Keirns, Carla C. “Allergic Landscapes, Built Environments & Human Health,” in Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, Edited by Giovanna Borasi and Mirko Zardini, Montréal: Centre Canadien d’Architecture; Canadian Center for Architecture, Lars Müller Publishers, 2012, pp. 97-115.

Keirns, Carla C. “Miner’s Asthma, Pneumoconiosis and the Politics of Occupational Disease in Coal Country, 1900-1970,” At Work in the World: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on the History of Occupational and Environmental Health, edited by Paul Blanc and Brian Dolan, Berkeley & London: University of California Press and the California Digital Library, 2012, 129-132.

Dorn, Michael L. Carla C. Keirns & Vincent Del Casino, “Doubting Dualisms: A Genealogical Reading of Medical Geographies,” in Companion to Health and Medical Geography, edited by Tim Brown, Sara McLafferty, & Graham Moon, Boston: Blackwell pp. 55-78.

Keirns, Carla C., Michael Fetters, Raymond De Vries, “Bioethics & Medical Education,” in Handbook of the Sociology of Medical Education, edited by Caragh Brosnan and Bryan S. Turner, London: Routledge, 2009, pp. 174-190.

Dorn, Michael L. and Carla C. Keirns, “Disability, Health, Nation,” in Handbook of Social Geography, Smith, S., S. Marston, R. Pain and J. P. Jones III, eds. London: Sage Books, 2009, pp.99-117.

Keirns, Carla C. “Asthma, Allergy & the Birth of Immunotherapy,” Crafting Immunity, edited by Kenton Kroker, Pauline Mazumdar, and Jennifer Keelan, Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 77-103.

Keirns, Carla C. “Susan and the Simmonds-Sheehan Syndrome,” in Clio in the Clinic: History in Medical Practice, edited by Jacalyn Duffin, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press; Toronto and London: University of Toronto Press, 2005, pp. 116-127.

Keirns, Carla C. July First, Academic Medicine, October 2011; 86(10): 1317.

Keirns, Carla C. “Dying of a Treatable Disease,” Health Affairs, November/December 2009; 28(6): 1807-1813.

Keirns, Carla C. “Doctors and Divination,” Academic Medicine, July 2008, 83(7): 652.

Keirns, Carla C. “What if it were your father?” Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine, May 2007, 9(3): 180-181.