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Early Career in Medicine

Upon Tracy’s graduation from Woman’s Medical College (WMC) in 1904, she then enrolled as a graduate student at Cornell Medical College in New York, spending the next nine years in the laboratory research environment. For some of this time, she was under the tutelage of Dr. William B. Coley, helping him to develop “Coley’s Fluid,” which furthered research for treatment of sarcoma, a type of cancer.

Martha Tracy in the lab. (The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections)

Martha Tracy in the lab.

In 1907, Tracy decided to return to her Alma Mater of WMC, giving up what looked to be a career in laboratory research. WMC was struggling at the time, and Tracy joined the ranks of the imperiled, but beloved institution. For the next 10 years, Tracy served WMC in a number of capacities, beginning with an appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry under Dr. Henry Leffman.

It was in 1911 that Dr. Tracy took a year’s leave of absence to study Physiological Chemistry at Yale. When she returned in 1913, WMC’s chemistry department had been converted into a department of Physiological Chemistry, and Tracy was granted full professorship. Still teaching, Tracy studied Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a PhD. in Public Hygiene in 1917.

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