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 16 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 NIH grants funded through the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences that focus on following cancer risk within family-based cohorts focused on studying environmental exposures during key windows of breast susceptibility. She is also leading prospective studies to validate and extend breast cancer risk assessment models. She is also funded through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Dr. Terry has authored or co-authored over 250 scientific publications. Her more recent work supports that environmental exposures and biomarkers are associated with modifying 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.
PhD, 1999, Columbia University
MA, 1990, University of Washington
BA, 1988, George Washington University
Society for Epidemiologic Research
American Association for Cancer Research
American Society for Preventive Oncology
Honors & Awards
Areas of Expertise
Longitudinal Studies, Research Design and Methods, Cancer, Cancer Breast, Cancer Screening, Genetic Susceptibility, Genetics
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
Shen J, Liao Y, Hopper JL, Goldberg M, Santella RM, Terry MB.Dependence of cancer risk from environmental exposures on underlying genetic susceptibility: an illustration with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and breast cancer.Br J Cancer. 2017 Mar 28. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2017.81
Terry MB, Phillips KA, Daly MB, John EM, Andrulis IL, Buys SS, Goldgar DE, Knight JA, Whittemore AS, Chung WK, Apicella C, Hopper JL. Cohort Profile: The Breast Cancer Prospective Family Study Cohort (ProF-SC).Int J Epidemiol. 2016 Jun;45(3):683-92. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv118. Epub 2015 Jul 13.
Quante AS, Whittemore AS, Shriver T, Hopper JL, Strauch K, Terry MB.Practical problems with clinical guidelines for breast cancer prevention based on remaining lifetime risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2015 May 8;107(7). pii: djv124. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv124. Print 2015 Jul.
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
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, 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, 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, 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, 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
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