City of Hope epidemiologist Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., has received the sixth annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)-Prevent Cancer Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research.
Bernstein, director of the Department of Cancer Etiology in the Division of Population Sciences, is an internationally recognized expert on the effects of hormones and physical activity on cancer risk. She also investigates late effects of cancer treatment, the impact of lifestyle on prognosis and quality of life after cancer.
AACR bestows the award annually to a scientist for outstanding contributions to the field of cancer prevention. Awardees must not only have made a major impact on the field, but also stimulated new directions in cancer prevention research.
Bernstein, professor in the Department of Cancer Etiology and dean for faculty development, was honored for her distinguished research career in cancer epidemiology and prevention, which spans nearly 25 years. As part of the award, she delivered a lecture at the sixth annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in Philadelphia on Dec. 6. Bernstein discussed her perspectives in the lecture “Breast Cancer Prevention: Learning from the Past, Mentoring the Future.”
“Leslie Bernstein is a preeminent researcher and scholar who has received international recognition for her sizeable and significant scientific accomplishments,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D., chief executive officer of the AACR. “Her work has vast implications for cancer survivors and their quality of life and we are pleased to honor her for contributions to cancer prevention.”
Bernstein’s early work examined the effects of exercise and weight on the onset of puberty and hormonal patterns during adolescence. This research challenged the belief that epidemiologic risk factors for breast cancer were largely unchangeable.
It also demonstrated that physical activity can directly decrease breast cancer risk and laid the foundation for subsequent epidemiologic studies and clinical trials focused on understanding the contributions of physical activity, weight and associated biologic mechanisms. This area is now a primary international focus of cancer prevention and control research.
In later research, Bernstein helped identify ethnicity-related variations and determinants of poor prognosis in risk in breast cancer. She also has studied the late effects of cancer treatment.
Bernstein received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics, master’s degree in gerontology and doctorate in biometry from the University of Southern California (USC). She rose through the academic ranks of USC, serving as professor of preventive medicine and the first holder of the AFLAC, Incorporated Chair in Cancer Research. Bernstein was named Professor Emeritus of USC following her retirement from the institution.
She has been repeatedly honored for her scientific accomplishments. Honors include the American Society for Preventive Oncology Distinguished Achievement Award, the USC Presidential Medallion and the Keck School of Medicine Stevely Hoffman Achievement Award. Her lectureships include the Cutter Lectureship at Harvard University, the Meadow Brook Lecture at Wayne State and Oakland Universities and the Sloan Memorial Lecture at Boston University. Bernstein has authored or co-authored more than 400 publications.
Earlier this year, Bernstein was named the 2007 winner of the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in clinical breast cancer research by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure. This award honors a clinical researcher whose lifetime achievements advance research concepts and clinical applications in breast cancer research, screening or treatment.