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Nancy TomesDistinguished ProfessorHistoryCollege of Arts and Sciences


Nancy Tomes is an American historian with a focus on the intersection between expert knowledge and popular understandings of the body and disease. She’s the award-winning author of four books, including The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women and the Microbe in American life, (1998) about the popularization of the germ theory of disease, and Remaking the American Patient which was awarded the prestigious Bancroft Prize in 2017, which examines in-depth research into the popular yet largely unexamined concept origin of patients “shopping” for health care.

She's also developed “Medicine and Madison Avenue,” a website in collaboration with Duke University Library’s Special Collections, which explores the complex history of health-related advertising. Her current research focus is on the history of psychiatry, the impact of the Internet on doctor-patient interactions, and a comparative look at the medical consumerism in other countries.


  • PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • BA, University of Kentucky
  • AS, Oberlin College


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