Among the most accomplished researchers working in cancer epidemiology today, Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., 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.
1981, Ph.D., Biometry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1978, M.S., Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1965, B.A., Highest Honors in Mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
2016-present, Professor and Director, Division of Biomarkers of Early Detection and Prevention, Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Institute, City of Hope, Duarte, CA
2007-present, Professor Emerita, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, CA
2008-2017, Adjunct Professor, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA
2015, Interim Chair, Department of Population Sciences, City of Hope, Duarte, CA
2007-2016, Professor and Director, Division of Cancer Etiology, Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, Duarte, CA
2007-2014, Dean for Faculty Affairs, City of Hope, Duarte, CA
2009-2011, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, University of Texas, Houston, TX
2003-2004, University Vice Provost for Medical Affairs, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
2003-2007, Program leader, Women’s Cancer Program, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, CA
1996-2003, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1991-2007, Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
1998-2007, First holder of the AFLAC, Incorporated, Chair in Cancer Research, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
1988-2007, Scientific Director, Cancer Surveillance Program of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA
1977-1978, Research Assistant, Division of Community Programs and Social Policy, Andrus Gerontology Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
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.
In an expansion of the California Teacher Study, researchers collected blood and saliva samples from more than 15,000 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.
Awards & Memberships
2020, American Cancer Society, Medal of Honor
2018, AACR – Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology
2016, Julie Baker Memorial Lecture, Roswell Park Cancer Institute
2015, First Mentor of the Year Award, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope
2015, Ron Ross Oration and Award, International Pacific Rim Breast and Prostate Cancer Symposium
2014, Recipient, Scientific Leadership Award, National Breast Cancer Coalition
2011, Named to Gallery of Medical and Scientific Achievement, City of Hope
2011, First Geoffrey Howe Memorial Lecture. Columbia University School of Public Health
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
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
Deputy Editor, Breast Cancer Research
Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund Advisory Committee
2017-2021, Editorial Board, JNCI Cancer Spectrum
Scientific Advisory Committee, Black Women’s Health Study
Chair, External Advisory Committee, Nurses Health Studies, Harvard University
Women in Cancer Research Council, AACR
USC Environmental Health Center, Career Development Committee
Breakthrough Generations Study Scientific Advisory Committee, London, England
Permanent Scientific Committee, International Organization for Statistical Studies on Diseases of the Esophagus (O.ES.O.)
2014-2019, Editorial Board, JAMA Oncology
2008-2019, Scientific Advisory Board of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center
Advisory Board, Genetic Epidemiology Research Institute, University of Californi of Irvine
2007-2019, Editorial Board, Obesity
2006-2017, Scientific Advisory Committee for ACS Cohorts, American Cancer Society
2003-2017, Young Survivors Coalition’s Medical Advisory Board
John EM, McGuire V, Kurian AW, Koo J,Shariff-Marco S, Gomez SL, Cheng I, Keegan THM, Kwan ML, Bernstein L, Vigen C, Wu AH. Racial/ethnic disparities in survival after breast cancer diagnosis by estrogen and progesterone receptor status: A pooled analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2020 Dec 18:cebp.1291.2020. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-20-1291. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33355191.
Dighe SG, Chen J, Yan L, He Q, Gharahkhani P, Onstad L, Levine DM Palles C, Ye W, Gammon MD, Iyer PG, Anderson LA, Liu G, Wu AH, Dai JY, Chow WH, Risch HA, Lagergren J, Shaheen NJ, Bernstein L, Corley DA, Prenen H, deCaestecker J, MacDonald D, Moayyedi P, Barr H, Love SB, Chegwidden L, Atwood S, Watson P, Harrison R, Ott K, Moebus S, Venerito M, Lang H, Mayershofer R, Knapp M, Veits L, Gerges C, Weismüller J, Gockel I, Vashist Y, Nöthen MM, Izbicki JR, Manner H, Neuhaus H, Rösch T, Böhmer AC, Hölscher AH, Anders M, Pech O, Schumacher B, Schmidt C, Schmidt T, Noder T, Lorenz D, Vieth M, May A, Hess T, Kreuser N, Becker J, Ell C, Ambrosone CB, Moysich KB, MacGregor S, Tomlinson I, Vaughan TL, Madeleine MM, Hardie LJ, Buas MF. Germline variation in the insulin-like growth factor pathway and risk of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Carcinogenesis 2020 Dec 10:bgaa132. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgaa132. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33300568.
van den Brandt PA, Ziegler RG, Wang M, Hou T, Li R, Adami HO, Agnoli C, Bernstein L, Buring JE, Chen Y, Connor AE, Eliassen AH, Genkinger JM, Gierach G, Giles GG, Goodman GG, Håkansson N, Krogh V, Le Marchand L, Lee IM, Liao LM, Martinez ME, Miller AB, Milne RL, Neuhouser ML, Patel AV, Prizment A, Robien K, Rohan TE, Sawada N, Schouttteeen LJ, Sinha R, Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Teras LR, Tsugane S, Visvanathan K, Weiderpass E, White KK, Willett WC, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Smiith-Warner SA. Body size and weight change over adulthood and risk of breast cancer by menopausal and hormone receptor status: a pooled analysis of 20 prospective cohort studies. Eur J Epidemiol. 2020 Oct 30. doi: 10.1007/s10654-020-00688-3. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33128203
Dong J, Maj C, Tsavachidis S. Ostrom QT, Gharahkhani P,. Anderson LA, Wu AH, Ye W, Bernstein L, Borisov O, Schröder J, Chow WH, Gammon MD, Liu G, Caldas C, Pharoah PD, Risch HA, May A, Gerges C, Anders M, Venerito M, Schmidt T, Izbicki JR, Hölscher AH, Schumacher B, Vashist Y, Neuhaus H, Rösch T, Knapp M, Krawitz P, Böhmer A, Iyer PG, Reid BJ, Lagergren J, Shaheen NJ, Corley DA, Gockel I, Fitzgerald RC, Stomach and Oesophageal Cancer Study (SOCS) consortium, Cook MB, Whiteman DC, Vaughan TL, Schumacher J, Thrift AP. Sex-specific genetic associations for Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Gastroenterol.2020 Sep 9:S0016-5085(20)35130-1. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2020.08.052. Online ahead of print. PMID:32918910.
Brooks JD, Boice Jr JD, Shore RE, Reiner AS, Smith SA,Bernstein L, Knight JA, Lynch CV, John EM, Malone KE, Mellemkjær L, Langballe R, Liang X, Woods M, Tischkowitz M, Concannon P, Stram DO, on behalf of the WECARE Study Collaborative Group, Bernstein JL. A case-control study of the joint effect of reproductive factors and radiation treatment for first breast cancer and risk of contralateral breast cancer in the WECARE Study. Breast. 2020; Aug 24;54:62-69. Doi 10.1016/j.breast.2020.07.007. PMID 32927238, PMCID: PMC7494790.
Dieli-Conwright C, Sweeney FC, Tripathy D, Sami N, Van Fleet J, Buchanan TA, Spicer D, Lee K, Mortimer J, Bernstein L, Demark-Wahnefried W, Courneya KS. Hispanic ethnicity as a moderator of the effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on physical fitness and quality-of-life in breast cancer survivors. J Cancer Surviv. 2020 Jul 17; doi: 10.1007/s11764-020-00918-3. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32681303.
Palmer JR, Polley EC, Hu C, John EM, Haiman C, Hart SN, Gaudet M, Pal T, Anton-Culver H, Trentham-Dietz A, Bernstein L, Ambrosone CB, Bandera E, Bertrand KA, Bethea TN, Gao C, Gnanaolivu RD, Lee KY, LeMarchand L, Na J, Shah P, Yadav S, Yang W, Weitzel JN, Domchek S, Goldgar DE, Nathanson KL, Kraft P, Yao S, Couch FJ. The contribution of germline predisposition gene mutations to breast cancer risk in African American women. J Natl Cancer Instit. 2020 May 19:djaa040. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djaa040. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32427313.
Lee S, Liang X, Woods M, Reiner AS, Thomas DC, Concannon P, Bernstein L, Lynch CF, Boice JD, Deasy JO, Bernstein JL, Oh JH. Machine learning on genome-wide association studies to predict the risk of radiation-associated contralateral breast cancer in the WECARE Study. PLoS One. 2020 Feb 27;15(2):e0226157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226157. PMCID: PMC7046218.
Reiner AS, Robson ME, Mellemkjær L, Tischkowitz M, John EM, Lynch CF, Brooks JD, Boice JD, Knight JA, Lang X, Woods M, Shore R, Thomas DC, Malone KE, Bernstein L, Riaz N, Stram DO, Conti DV, Woodward W, Powell S, Goldgar D, Concannon P, for the WECARE Study Collaborative Group, Bernstein JL. Radiation treatment, ATM, BRCA1/2, and CHEK2*1100delC pathogenic mutation status, and risk of contralateral breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Instit. 2020 Mar 2;djaa031. doi:10.1093/jnci/djaa031. [published online ahead of print]. PMID:32119081.
Zhong C, Chao CR, Song JY, Weisenburger DD, Luo J, Neuhausen S, Bernstein L, Cozen W, Wang SS. Follicular lymphoma polygenic risk score is associated with increased disease risk but improved overall survival. Cancer Epidemiol. 2020 Apr;65:101688. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2020.101688. PMCID: PMC7131878.
Schoemaker MJ, Nichols HB, Wright LB, Brook MN, Jones ME, O’Brien KM, Adami HO, Baglietto L, Bernstein L, Bertrand KA, Boutron-Ruault MC, Chen Y, Connor AE, Dossus L, Eliassen AH, Giles GG, Gram IT, Hankinson SE, Kaaks R, Key TJ, Kirsh VA, Kitahara CM, Larasson SC, Linet M, Ma H, Milne RL, Ozasa K, Palmer JR, Riboli E, Rohan TE, Sacerdote C, Sadakane A, Sund M, Tamimi RM,, Trichopoulou A, Ursin G, Visvanathan K, Weiderpass E, Willlett WC, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Sandler DP, Swerdlow AJ. Adult weight change and premenopausal breast cancer risk: A prospective pooled analysis of data from 628,463 women. Int J Cancer, 2020 Sep 1; 147(50: 1306-1314. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32892. PMCID: PMC265745.
Zhong C, Seibold P, Chao CR, Cozen W, Song JY, Weisenburger D, Bernstein L, Wang SS. Assessing cancer treatment information using Medicare and hospital discharge data among women with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in a Los Angeles County case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, 2020 May;29(5): 936-941. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-19-1504. PMCID: PMC7196521.
Xu X, Ritz B, Coleman A, Liew Z, Deapen D, Lee E, Bernstein L, Pinder R, Marshall S, Heck J. Hypertension, antihypertensive medications use and risk of age-related macular degeneration in California Teachers Cohort. J Human Hypertension. 2020; Sept;34(8) 568-576. doi: 10.1038/s41371-019-0269-9. PMID: 31595025.
Trabert B, Tworoger SS, O'Brien KM, Townsend MK, Fortner RT, Iversen ES, Hartge P, White E, Amiano P, Arslan AA, Bernstein L, Brinton LA, Buring JE, Dossus L, Fraser GE, Gaudet MM, Giles GG, Gram IT, Harris HR, Hoffman Bolton J, Idahl A, Jones ME, Kaaks R, Kirsh VA, Knutsen SF, Kvaskoff M, Lacey JV, Lee IM, Milne RL, Onland-Moret NC, Overvad K, Patel AV, Peters U, Poynter JN, Riboli E, Robien K, Rohan TE, Sandler DP, Schairer C, Schouten LJ, Setiawan VW, Swerdlow AJ, Travis RC, Trichopoulou A, van den Brandt PA, Visvanathan K, Wilkens LR, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Wentzensen N. The risk of ovarian cancer increases with an increase in the lifetime number of ovulatory cycles: an analysis from the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium (OC3).Cancer Res, 2020 Mar 1; 80(5):1210-1218. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-2850. PMCID: PMC7056529.
Xie SH, Fang R, Huang M, Dai J, Thrift AP, Anderson LA, Chow WH, Bernstein L, Gammon MD, Risch HA, Shaheen NJ, Reid BJ, Wu AH, Iyer PG, Liu G, Corley DA, Whiteman DC, Caldas C, Pharoah PD, Hardie LJ, Fitzgerald RC, Shen H, Vaughan TL, Lagergren, J. Association between levels of hormones and risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma and Barrett's esophagus. J Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Nov;18(12):2701-2709.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2019.11.030. Epub 2019 Nov 19. PMCID:PMC7580878
Watt GP, Reiner AS, Smith S, Stram DO, Capanu M, Malone KE, Lynch CF, John EM, Knight JA, Mellemkjær L, Bernstein L, Brooks JD, Woods M, Liang X, Haile RW, Conti DV, Robson M, Duggan D, Boice JD Jr., Shore RE, Tischkowitz M, Orlow I, Thomas DC, Concannon P, Bernstein JL. Association of a pathway-specific genetic risk score with risk of radiation-associated contralateral breast cancer. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;Sept 4;2(9):e1912259. doi:10.1001/ jamanetworkopen.2019.12259. PMCID: PMC6777239.
Petrick JL, Li N, Anderson LA, Bernstein L, Corley DA, El Serag HB, Hardikar S, Liao LM, Liu G, Murray LJ, Rubenstein JH, Schneider JL, Shaheen NJ, Thrift AP, van den Brandt P, Vaughan TL, Whiteman DC, Wu AH, Zhao WK, Gammoon MD, Cook MB. Diabetes in relation to Barrett’s esophagus and adenocarcinomas of the esophagus: a pooled study from the International Barrett’s and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium. Cancer, 2019 Dec 1;125(23):4210-4223. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32444. PMCID: PMC7001889.
Hom M, Sriprasert I, Ihenacho U, Castelao JE, Siegmund K, Bernstein L, Cortessis VK. Systematic review and meta-analysis of testicular germ cell tumors following in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol. JNCI Cancer Spectr, 2019 Jun 28;3(3):pkz045. doi:10.1093/jncics/pkz045. eCollection 2019 Sep. PMCID:PMC6748667.
Ma H, Malone KE, McDonald JA, Marchbanks PA, Ursin G, Strom BL, Simon MS, Sullivan-Halley J, Bernstein L+, Lu Y+. Pre-diagnosis alcohol consumption and mortality risk among black women and white women with invasive breast cancer. BMC Cancer, 2019 Aug 13;19(1):800. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5991-8. [+co-senior authors] PMCID:PMC6693233.
Sweeney FC, Demark-Wahnefried W, Courneya KS, Sami N, Lee K, Tripathy D, Yamada K, Buchanan TA, Spicer DV, Bernstein L, Mortimer JE, Dieli-Conwright CM. Aerobic and resistance exercise improves shoulder function in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Phys Ther, 2019 Oct 28; 99 (10):1334-1345. pii: pzz096. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzz096. PMCID: PMC6821226.
Cerhan JR, Kane E, Vajdic CM, Linet MS, Monnereau A, Bernstein L, de Sanjose S, Chiu BC-H, Spinelli JJ, Dal Maso L, Zhang Y, Larrabee BR, Cozen W, Smith AG, Clavel J, Serraino D, Zheng T, Holly EA, Weisenberger DD, Slager SL, Bracci PM. Blood transfusion history and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: an InterLymph pooled analysis. Cancer Cause Control. 2019 Aug;30(8):889-900. doi: 10.1007/s10552-019-01188-w. PMCID: PMC6613988.
Hurley S, Golderg D, Park JS, Petreas M, Bernstein L, Anton-Culver H, Neuhausen SL, Nelson DO, Reynolds P. A breast cancer case-control study of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) serum levels among California women. Environ Int, 2019 June;127:412-419. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.03.043. [Epub ahead of print]. PMCID:PMC6522143.
Lee K, Tripathy D, Demark-Wahnefried W, Courneya KS, Sami N, Bernstein L, Spicer D, Buchanan TA, Mortimer JE, Dieli-Conwright CM. Effect of aerobic and resistance exercise intervention on cardiovascular disease risk in women with early-stage breast cancer: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncol. 2019 May 1, 5(5):710-714. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.0038. [Epub ahead of print] PMCID: PMC6512455.
Jiang L, Chang J, Ziogas A, Deapen D, Reynolds P, Bernstein L, Anton-Culver H. Secondhand smoke, obesity and risk of type II diabetes among California teachers. Ann Epidemiol, 2019 Apr; 32:35-42. doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Jan 25. PMID: 30846276.
Powers S, McGuire V, Bernstein L, Canchola A, Whittemore AS. Evaluating disease prediction models using a cohort whose covariate distribution differs from that of the target population. Stat Methods Med Res, 2019; 28(1):309-320. doi: 10.1177/0962280217723945. PMCID:PMC5895541