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Mary Beth Terry

Professor of Epidemiology

Mary Beth Terry, PhD, focuses her research on breast cancer and in the molecular epidemiology and lifecourse methods of the disease, in particular. She is a cancer epidemiologist with over 14 years ofleading studies of breast cancer etiology specifically focused on the role of genetics, epigenetics, and other biomarkers play in modifying the effects of environmental exposures. Dr. Terry currently leads four NIH grants through the National Cancer Institute and the National Insitute for Environmental Health Sciences that focus on following cancer risk within family-based cohorts. She is also funded through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Dr. Terry has authored or co-authored over 170 scientific publications. Her more recent work studying biomarkers, which can be modified throughout life, supports that selected markers of DNA methylation and other biomarkers are associated with breast cancer risk even within high risk families. Understanding whether biomarkers can help explain risk in higher risk women is important as only a minority of women with a family history of cancer carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Her work also focuses on measuring risk factors for mammographic density, a strong intermediate marker of breast cancer. In addition to her doctorate in epidemiology, Dr. Terry has a Master's degree in economics and previously worked as an econometrician and program evaluator for a number of government-sponsored programs. Dr. Terry teaches introductory and advanced epidemiologic methods at the Mailman School of Public Health.
  View Faculty CV here (PDF).
Education & Training:

    PhD, 1999, Columbia University

    MA, 1990, University of Washington

    BA, 1988, George Washington University


Mailman School Affiliations:

University Affiliations:

  • Herbert Irving Cancer Center  Co-Leader Cancer Epidemiology

Additional Affiliations:

  • Society for Epidemiologic Research
  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society for Preventive Oncology
Honors and Awards:
  • Dean's Excellence in Mentoring Award 2013
  • CUMC Garvey Academy
  • Selected Editorial Boards

    • International Journal of Epidemiology
New York City
    Early Life Factors and Breast Cancer Risk
    Using a birth cohort of women all born at Columbia University, this project is examining the associations between early infant and childhood factors and breast cancer risk later in life.

    Breast Cancer in High Risk Families
    Currently following up a long term cohort of high risk families recruited in New York city to understand genetic, environmental, and epigenetic influences in breast cancer risk.

    Mammographic Density in an Urban Cohort
    This study is focused on women in Brooklyn New York to understand differences in mammographic density among racial and ethnic subgroups.

Selected Publications:
  • Terry MB, Gammon MD, Schoenberg JB, Brinton LA, Arber N, Hibshoosh H Oral contraceptive use and cyclin D1 overexpression in breast cancer among young women. Oral contraceptive use and cyclin D1 overexpression in breast cancer among young women Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11 1100-3 2002
  • Terry MB, Neugut AI, Bostick RM, Potter JD, Haile RW, Fenoglio-Preiser CM Reliability in the classification of advanced colorectal adenomas Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11 660-3 2002
  • Terry MB, Neugut AI, Mansukhani M, Waye J, Harpaz N, Hibshoosh H Tobacco, alcohol, and p53 overexpression in early colorectal neoplasia BMC Cancer 3 29 2003
  • Terry MB, Neugut AI, Bostick RM, Sandler RS, Haile RW, Jacobson JS, Fenoglio-Preiser CM, Potter JD Risk factors for advanced colorectal adenomas: a pooled analysis Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11 622-9 2002
  • Terry MB, Gaudet MM, Gammon MD The epidemiology of gastric cancer Semin Radiat Oncol 12 111-27 2002
  • Terry MB, Susser E Commentary: the impact of fetal and infant exposures along the life course Int J Epidemiol 30 95-6 2001
  • Terry MB, Gammon MD, Zhang FF, Eng SM, Sagiv SK, Paykin AB, Wang Q, Hayes S, Teitelbaum SE, Neugut AI, Santella RM Polymorphism in the DNA repair gene XPD, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon-DNA adducts, cigarette smoking and breast cancer risk Cancer Epidemiol Biomark 13 2053-8 2004
  • Terry MB, Ferris JS, Tehranifar P, Wei Y, Flom JD. Birth weight, postnatal growth, and age at menarche. Am J Epidemiol. 170(1) 72-9 2009
  • Terry MB, Flom J, Tehranifar P, Susser E. The role of birth cohorts in studies of adult health: the New York women's birth cohort. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 23(5) 431-45 2009
  • Terry MB, Ferris JS, Pilsner R, Flom JD, Tehranifar P, Santella RM, Gamble MV, Susser E. Genomic DNA methylation among women in a multiethnic New York City birth cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 17(9) 2306-10 2008

Contact Information


722 West 168th Street, Room 724A

New York 10032