She also serves as Dean for Faculty Affairs at the City of Hope. An internationally-recognized epidemiologist, she has focused her research primarily on cancer, seeking to identify modifiable lifestyle factors that will reduce incidence and extend survival. She was the first to show a link between exercise activity and lower breast cancer risk. She has also pursued research investigating the long-term chronic disease sequelae of therapeutic regimens for breast cancer. Dr. Bernstein has published more than 400 research papers and 50 book chapters during her career.
Prior to moving to the City of Hope in 2007, Dr. Bernstein was Professor of Preventive Medicine and held the AFLAC, Inc., Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). While at USC, she served for 20 years as the scientific director of the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program, one of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registries, was medical school Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs for eight years and the University’s Vice Provost for Medical Affairs for two years. Prior to assuming her administrative roles, she chaired the medical school’s Admissions Committee for five years. At USC she received the University’s Presidential Medallion and the Elaine Stevely Hoffman Achievement Award.
Dr. Bernstein leads the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort of 133,479 female public school professionals formed in 1995 to study breast and other cancers. As the study’s principal investigator, she manages a broad collaboration of 22 investigators at four cancer centers and leads research efforts in breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She is an active participant in the HEAL Study collaboration, a multicenter, multiethnic study of breast cancer survivorship, now in its 12th year, and also has been following the long-term survivors (>25 years) from her early case-control study of breast cancer in women ages 40 or younger at diagnosis. With Susan Love, MD, she has initiated a new cohort, the Health of Women Study, collecting data over the internet and recruiting women who are members of the Love/Avon Army of Women as cohort members. Dr. Bernstein also currently has active studies or collaborations on asynchronous bilateral breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and esophageal adenocarcinoma etiology.
For the past 15 years, Dr. Bernstein has focused her efforts on mentoring the next generation of cancer prevention scientists, creating programs for postdoctoral fellows and PhD students at USC and at the City of Hope to enhance their training experiences and address issues pertinent to their future careers. She is the recipient of a K05 award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which supports her training and mentoring activities and capitalizes on her research on energetics and cancer. Currently, She actively mentors junior and intermediate level cancer research scientists at the City of Hope, USC, Claremont Graduate University, and at many institutions throughout the US.
In 2007, Dr. Bernstein received both the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in clinical breast cancer research by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure and the American Association for Cancer Research-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention. She has also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for Preventive Oncology. In 2010 she received the Rosalind E. Franklin Award for Women in Science from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the American College of Epidemiology for her scientific and mentoring achievements in epidemiology. Among Dr. Bernstein’s many service activities, she has served on NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors and as chair of advisory committees for numerous breast cancer research efforts, including the Long Island Breast Cancer Case-control Study. She currently chairs the external advisory committees for the Sisters Study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Nurses Health Studies at Harvard Medical School and the Mexican American Cohort at MD Anderson. She serves on several cancer center external advisory boards and is deputy editor for Breast Cancer Research.