Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D.

Research Focus
  • Cancer Etiology
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Modifiable Risk Factors in Cancer

Among the most accomplished researchers working in cancer epidemiology today, Bernstein was instrumental in identifying physical activity as a means to reduce the risk of breast cancer. She is involved in projects to explore the links between hormone exposures, physical activity, obesity and cancer. She is also examining how breast cancer impacts the lives of women after they are finished with treatment.

Download her full CV.

Professional Experience

  • 2014 to present - Interim Chair, Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2007 to present - Professor and Director, Division of Cancer Etiology, Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2007 to 2014 - Dean for Faculty Affairs, City of Hope, Duarte, CA
  • 2007 to present - Professor Emeritus, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, CA 2006 to 2007 - Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine Faculty Appointments, Promotions Committee
  • 2003 to 2007 - Program Leader, Women’s Cancer Program, USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 2003 to 2004 - Vice Provost, Medical Affairs, USC, Los Angeles California
  • 1998 to 2007 - AFLAC, Incorporated, Chair in Cancer Research
  • 1996 to 2003 - Senior Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs, Keck School of Medicine USC, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1991 to 2007 - Professor of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine USC, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1988 to 2007 - Scientific Director, USC Cancer Surveillance Program (for Los Angeles County)
  • 1988 to 1991 - Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, USC School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1982 to 1988 - Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, USC School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA


  • 1981, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, Ph.D., Biometry
  • 1978, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, M.S., Gerontology
  • 1965, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, B.A., Mathematics


California Teachers Study
In 1995 and 1996, 133,479 female teachers and public school professionals in California responded to a request to participate in a large prospective cohort study. Since then, those women have offered information about their lifestyles, health and backgrounds through mailed questionnaires, and some have given biological samples. This huge cache of data has allowed researchers to determine what differentiates the women who have developed cancer from those who have not.
Some of the most recent findings from the California Teacher Study include:
  • obesity is related to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer
  • small particulate air pollution is related to the risk of cardiovascular disease deaths
  • smoking and secondhand smoke may increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • delayed onset of puberty may be related to an increased risk of thyroid cancer in younger women
  • a decrease in invasive breast cancer is explained in large part by the decline in use of hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms. 
Now, in an expansion of the California Teacher Study, researchers are collecting blood and saliva samples from more than 20,000 cohort members with no history of any cancer. This large group of biospecimens, along with data on diet, lifestyle and other factors, will help researchers identify new biomarkers for early detection, predict responses to treatments, and identify genetic and environmental interactions. This new information could lead to better treatments and perhaps prevention of cancer.


For a full list of her publications, please download her CV here.

Information listed here is obtained from Pubmed, a public database; City of Hope is not responsible for its accuracy.


  • Editorial Board, JAMA Oncology
  • Cohort Consortium Steering Committee
  • Deputy Editor, Breast Cacner Research
  • Chair, External Advisory Committee, Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE
  • Women in Cancer Research Council, AACR
  • Editorial Board, Obesity


  • 2015, First Mentor of the Year Award, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope
  • 2014, Recipient, Scientific Leadership Award, National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • 2010, Recipient, Abraham Lilienfeld Award for Lifetime Contributions to Epidemiology, American College of Epidemiology
  • 2010, Recipient, Rosalind E. Franklin Award, National Cancer Institute
  • 2007, Recipient, Brinker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Clinical Research, Komen For the Cure Foundation
  • 2007, AACR-Prevent Cancer Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research
  • 2003, Recipient, American Society for Preventive Oncology Distinguished Achievement Award
  • 2001, Recipient, University of Southern California Elaine Stevely Hoffman Achievement Award
  • 2000, Recipient, University of Southern California Presidential Medallion

  • 2015, Arthur Schatzkin Memorial Lecture, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genomics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville MD
  • 2011, First Geoffrey Howe Memorial Lecture, Columbia University School of Public Health, New York City, NY
  • 2010, Ruell A. Stallones Memorial Lecturer, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston TX
  • 2008, Judith P. Schlager Lecture, Breast Cancer: Current Controversies and New Horizons, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • 2006, Slone Memorial Lecture, Boston University
  • 2006, Meadow Brook Lecture, Southeast Michigan Center for Medical Education, Rochester, MI
  • 2005, Plenary Lecture, San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
  • 2005, Presenter, First EGRP Visiting Scholar Lecture, Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program, National Cancer Institute, 2005
  • 2005, Cutter Lectureship, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
  • 2003, Presenter, Third Annual Advances in Cancer Prevention Lecture, National Cancer Institute.
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