Associate Professor and Department Head, History
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Dr. Acker is a historian of medicine and public health whose research has focused on medical and scientific ideas about opiate addiction in the U.S. since about 1890. She came to this academic interest from her former work as director of a community-based drug information agency in Miami, Florida. She held the first DeWitt Stetten, Jr. Memorial Fellowship in the History of Twentieth-Century Biomedical Sciences and/or Technology at the National Institutes of Health from 1993-1994. Her book, Creating the American Junkie: Addiction Research in the Classic Era of Narcotic Control, weaves the experience of addicts with the efforts of researchers to understand addiction in the period when the American policy of drug prohibition was being established. She is also interested in the intersection between AIDS and drug policy. Through her work with Prevention Point Pittsburgh, a local harm reduction and needle exchange program, she has helped broaden the range of HIV prevention services available to injection drug users and increase local policy awareness of the health needs of this population.
She is currently working on a book on the history of the hypodermic syringe.