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 15 years of leading 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 Institute 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 200 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.
The Imprints Center for Genetic and Environmental Lifecourse Studies
Columbia Center for Environmental Health in Northern Manhattan
Society for Epidemiologic Research
American Association for Cancer Research
American Society for Preventive Oncology
Honors & Awards
Areas of Expertise
Select Urban Health Activities
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.
Select Global Activities
Work ME, Reimers LL, Quante AS, Crew KD, Whiffen A, Terry MB. Changes in mammographic density over time in breast cancer cases and women at high risk for breast cancer. Int J Cancer. 2014 Oct 1;135(7):1740-4. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28825. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PMID: 24599445
Work ME, John EM, Andrulis IL, Knight JA, Liao Y, Mulligan AM, Southey MC, Giles GG, Dite GS, Apicella C, Hibshoosh H, Hopper JL, Terry MB. Reproductive risk factors and oestrogen/progesterone receptor-negative breast cancer in the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Br J Cancer. 2014 Feb 18. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.807. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24548865
Delgado-Cruzata L, Wu HC, Liao Y, Santella RM, Terry MB. Changes in DNA methylation by extent of breast cancer family history in unaffected women.Epigenetics. 2013 Oct 29;9(2). [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24172832
Quante AS, Whittemore AS, Shriver T, Strauch K, Terry MB. Breast cancer risk assessment across the risk continuum: genetic and nongenetic risk factors contributing to differential model performance. Breast Cancer Res. 2012 Nov 5;14(6):R144
Terry MB, Buist DS, Trentham-Dietz A, James-Todd TM, Liao Y. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and change in mammographic density: a cohort study using pharmacy records on over 29,000 postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 17(5) 1088-95 2008
Terry MB, Schaefer CA, Flom JD, Wei Y, Tehranifar P, Liao Y, Buka S, Michels KB. Prenatal smoke exposure and mammographic density in mid-life. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2011, 2(6), 340ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“352
Terry MB, Gammon MD, Zhang FF, Knight JA, Wang Q, Britton JA, Teitelbaum SL, Neugut AI, Santella RM. ADH3 genotype, alcohol intake and breast cancer risk. Carcinogenesis 27(4) 840-7 2006
Terry MB, Buist DSM, Trentham-Dietz AT, James-Todd TM, Liao Y. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Change in Mammographic Density: A Cohort Study using Pharmacy Records on Over 29,000 Postmenopausal Women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008; 17(5):1088-95.
Susser E, Terry MB A conception-to-death cohort Lancet 361 797-8 2003
Terry MB, Wei Y, Esserman D. Maternal, birth, and early-life influences on adult body size in women. Am J Epidemiol. 166(1) 5-13 2007
Terry MB, Knight JA, Zablotska L, Wang Q, John EM, Andrulis IL, Senie RT, Daly M, Ozcelik H, Briollais L, Santella RM. Alcohol metabolism, alcohol intake, and breast cancer risk: a sister-set analysis using the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 106(2) 281-8 2007
Terry MB, Gammon MD, Zhang FF, Tawfik H, Teitelbaum SL, Britton JA, Subbaramaiah K, Dannenberg AJ, Neugut AI. Association of frequency and duration of aspirin use and hormone receptor status with breast cancer risk JAMA 291 2433-40 2004
Flom JD, Ferris JS, Liao Y, Tehranifar P, Belessiotis Richards C, Cho YH, Gonzalez K, Santella RM, Terry MB. Prenatal Smoke Exposure and Genomic DNA Methylation in a Multi-ethnic Urban Birth Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2011 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21994404.
Terry MB, Neugut AI, Schwartz S, Susser E Risk factors for a causal intermediate and an endpoint: reconciling differences Am J Epidemiol 151 339-45 2000
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, Wei Y, Esserman D. Maternal, Birth, and Early-Life Influences on Adult Body Size in Women. Am J Epidemiol. 2007; 166(1): 5-13.
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