Mary Beth Terry, PhD

  • Professor of Epidemiology (in Environmental Health Sciences)
Profile Headshot


Mary Beth Terry, PhD, focuses her research on cancer prevention with a specific focus on breast cancer. She is a cancer epidemiologist with over 20 years of leading studies of 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 cancer 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 300 scientific publications. Her more recent work supports that environmental exposures and biomarkers are associated with modifying risk even within high risk families. 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.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Epidemiology (in Environmental Health Sciences)

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Leader Cancer Population Sciences, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Associate Director for Community Cancer Prevention, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MA, Economics, University of Washington, Seattle WA
  • PhD, Epidemiology, Columbia University
  • BA, International Affairs, George Washington University

Committees, Societies, Councils

Society for Epidemiologic Research

American Association for Cancer Research

American Society for Preventive Oncology

Editorial Boards

International Journal of Epidemiology

Honors & Awards

Dean's Excellence in Mentoring Award 2013

CUMC Garvey Academy


Longitudinal Studies, Research Design and Methods, Adolescent Health, Cancer, Cancer Breast, Cancer Screening, Community Programs and Outreach, Disparities / Inequalities in Health, Women's Health, Environmental Epidemiology, Molecular Epidemiology, Genetic Susceptibility, Genetics, Perinatal Epidemiology, Life-course Approach to Prevention

Research Interests

  • Biostatistical Methods
  • Child and Adolescent Health
  • Chronic disease
  • Community Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Genetics
  • Maternal and Reproductive Health
  • Public Health Education

Selected Publications

Kehm RD, Hopper JL, John EM, Phillips KA, MacInnis RJ, Dite GS, Milne RL, Liao Y, Zeinomar N, Knight JA, Southey MC, Vahdat L, Kornhauser N, Cigler T, Chung WK, Giles GG, McLachlan SA, Friedlander ML, Weideman PC, Glendon G, Nesci S; kConFab Investigators, Andrulis IL, Buys SS, Daly MB, Terry MB. Regular use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and breast cancer risk for women at familial or genetic risk: a cohort study. Breast Cancer Res. 2019 Apr 18;21(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s13058-019-1135-y. PMID: 30999962 Free PMC Article

Cohn BA, Cirillo PM, Terry MB. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019 Feb 13. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djy198. [Epub ahead of print] DDT and Breast Cancer: Prospective Study of Induction Time and Susceptibility Windows. PMID: 30759253

Terry MB, Liao Y, Whittemore AS, Leoce N, Buchsbaum R, Zeinomar N, Dite GS, Chung WK, Knight JA, Southey MC, Milne RL, Goldgar D, Giles GG, McLachlan SA, Friedlander ML, Weideman PC, Glendon G, Nesci S, Andrulis IL, John EM, Phillips KA, Daly MB, Buys SS, Hopper JL, MacInnis RJ. 10-year performance of four models of breast cancer risk: a validation study. Lancet Oncol. 2019 Apr;20(4):504-517. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30902-1. Epub 2019 Feb 21. PMID: 30799262

Terry MB, Liao Y, Kast K, Antoniou AC, McDonald JA, Mooij TM, Engel C, Nogues C, Buecher B, Mari V, Moretta-Serra J, Gladieff L, Luporsi E, Barrowdale D, Frost D, Henderson A, Brewer C, Evans DG, Eccles D, Cook J, Ong KR, Izatt L, Ahmed M, Morrison PJ, Dommering CJ, Oosterwijk JC, Ausems MGEM, Kriege M, Buys SS, Andrulis IL, John EM, Daly M, Friedlander M, McLachlan SA, Osorio A, Caldes T, Jakubowska A, Simard J, Singer CF, Tan Y, Olah E, Navratilova M, Foretova L, Gerdes AM, Roos-Blom MJ, Arver B, Olsson H, Schmutzler RK, Hopper JL, van Leeuwen FE, Goldgar D, Milne RL, Easton DF, Rookus MA, Andrieu N; EMBRACE, GENEPSO, BCFR, HEBON, kConFab and IBCCS. The Influence of Number and Timing of Pregnancies on Breast Cancer Risk for Women With BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutations. JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2018 Dec;2(4):pky078. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pky078. Epub 2019 Mar 8.

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

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

Global Health Activities

BCFR: Breast Cancer Family Registry

International Breast Cancer Network: International BRCA1 and BRCA2 prospect cohort

International Breast Cancer Network: Network of countries from six continents focused on modifiable factors and cancer risk

Urban Health Activities

Director Community Outreach and Engagment: Currently oversee outreach and engagement activities in our catchment area for Columbia's HICCC

Breast Cancer in High Risk Families, an International Cohort: 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.