Mary Beth Terry, PhD
Department of Epidemiology
Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health
New York, New York
2013-2014 BCRF Project:
(The Aveda Award)
Co-Investigator: Regina M. Santella, PhD, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York
Drs. Santella and Terry previously determined that decreased ability to repair DNA damage is associated with breast cancer risk using technically difficult assays. They have now found that a much easier assay measuring blood cell DNA methylation in several DNA repair genes is able to demonstrate increased methylation associated with risk. In other studies, they found that an unaffected woman had lower levels of overall global white blood cell DNA methylation if she has three or more relatives with breast cancer compared to women in high risk families with only one relative. Ultimately, their work aims at improving risk prediction and modification by incorporating biomarker data into current risk models.
Drs. Santella and Terry previously determined that decreased ability to repair DNA damage is associated with breast cancer risk using technically difficult assays. They have now found that genetic variation (single nucleotide polymorphism) in several genes involved in DNA repair is associated with increased risk. In their studies in the young daughters from their group of high risk families and from average risk families, the researchers found that it might be possible to use saliva to analyze epigenetic changes associated with risk when blood is not available. Ultimately tis work aims at improving risk prediction and modification by incorporating biomarker data into current risk models.
Dr. Terry is an Associate Professor of Public Health. Dr. Terry is a cancer epidemiologist and has been involved in case-control studies of breast and colorectal cancer for over ten years. She is currently working on a New York cohort study to examine early life factors for breast cancer risk. Her research focuses on the study of intermediate markers in cancer including mammographic density and colorectal adenomas, gene-environmental interactions and cancer, and early life factors and breast cancer. She is an National Cancer Institute K07 recipient of a 5-year career development award studying early life factors and breast cancer risk and an American Cancer Society recipient of a 3-year grant to study alcohol metabolism, intake and breast cancer risk. She has several independent grants also focusing on early life factors and breast cancer risk including a large R01 grant and an idea award from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research program. Dr. Terry has taught both introductory and advanced epidemiologic methods at Columbia. She is currently teaching Epidemiology III.
Dr. Terry is also part of the CURE program at the Columbia Presbyterian Cancer Center to help mentor minority students in cancer research. While completing her doctoral degree, she also taught epidemiology and health economics for 3 years at New York University's Wagner School. Dr. Terry has a Masters degree in economics and previously worked as an econometrician and program evaluator for a number of government-sponsored programs.