Columbia University’s Dr. Mary Beth Terry named Executive Director of Silent Spring Institute

June 5, 2024

Dr. Mary Beth TerrySilent Spring Institute has named Dr. Mary Beth Terry, an internationally renowned cancer epidemiologist with more than 20 years of experience, as its new executive director. 

Dr. Terry was chosen for her extensive leadership and unique expertise in environmental risk factors for breast cancer, as well as her deep commitment to breast cancer prevention, community engagement, and health equity. She replaces Dr. Julia Brody, who led the Institute for 28 years before transitioning to a research position earlier this year.

“Silent Spring has been at the forefront in advancing science on breast cancer-causing chemicals, in translating science into policy, and in engaging communities in research,” says Dr. Terry. “The Institute’s scientists bring a wealth of knowledge about chemical exposures that are relevant to women’s health. I’m excited to lead this exceptional team to further advance Silent Spring’s mission.”

Dr. Terry comes to Silent Spring from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Her many contributions to the field include her groundbreaking work on exposure to air pollution and increased breast cancer risk among women with a family history or genetic susceptibility. 

She has served on numerous prestigious boards and committees at top institutions, including the National Cancer Institute and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. At Columbia, she directed the Community Outreach and Engagement Office at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. In people under 50, breast cancer incidence in women is six times the rate of any cancer in men, and two thirds of all early onset cancers occur in women. 

“At a time when more young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer and too many communities face disproportionate burdens from exposure to environmental contaminants, Dr. Terry brings the determination and know-how to ensure our cutting-edge science continues to have impact and improves people’s lives,” says Dr. Brody. 

While working as Executive Director at Silent Spring Institute, Dr. Terry will remain in her current roles as Professor of Epidemiology (in Environmental Health Sciences) at the Mailman School of Public Health and Associate Director of Population Science at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This year marks Silent Spring’s 30th anniversary, and with Dr. Terry’s leadership, the Institute is in a strong position to be a world-class authority on breast cancer prevention and a path-breaking leader in shifting policies, markets, and mindsets toward a healthier future,” says Board Chair, Lisa Goodwin Robbins.

Dr. Terry will start her position on July 1, 2024.