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The Sister Study

Helping future generations of women prevent breast cancer.

Who is Leading the Sister Study?

The Sister Study is conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) exit disclaimer — one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) exit disclaimer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).exit disclaimer

Dr. Dale Sandler exit disclaimer

Dr. Dale Sandler is the Principal Investigator of the Sister Study and the co-Principal Investigator of the Two Sister Study. She received her MPH from Yale University School of Medicine in 1975, and her PhD in Epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1979. Dr. Sandler is Chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She studies environmental risk factors for a wide range of chronic diseases including breast cancer. This work includes the impact of early life exposures, occupational and environmental exposures, socioeconomic and lifestyle factors, and genetic susceptibility. In addition to the Sister Study, Dr. Sandler is co-Principal Investigator of the Agricultural Health Study, a long-term study of farmers and their spouses who have been followed since 1993 and Principal Investigator of the GuLF Study, a cohort study of the health of persons involved in cleaning up following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2010.

Dr. Clarice Weinberg exit disclaimer

Dr. Clarice Weinberg is the Principal Investigator of the Two Sister Study and a Co-Investigator of the Sister Study. She received her MA in Mathematics in 1974 from Brandeis University, and her PhD in Biomathematics from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1980. Dr. Weinberg is a senior investigator in the Biostatistics and Computational Biology Branch at NIEHS. Dr. Weinberg is interested in assessing genetic effects and developing better designs and methods of analysis to help understand the joint role of genetics and environmental exposures in causing disease.

Dr. Jack Taylor exit disclaimer

Dr. Jack Taylor is a Co-investigator on both the Sister Study and Two Sister Study. He received his MD from the University of Wisconsin, and his PhD in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina. He did residency training in Radiology at Michigan State University and in Preventive Medicine at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Taylor serves jointly as the Chief of the Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology Section in the Epigenetic and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory and as a Senior Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS. His research is directed at understanding the genetic and epigenetic determinants of environmentally-associated cancers.

Dr. Chandra L. Jackson exit disclaimer

Dr. Chandra L. Jackson is a Co-investigator of the Sister Study. She received a Master’s degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a PhD in Epidemiology from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and was an Alonzo Smythe Yerby Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health before becoming a Research Associate at the Harvard Catalyst Clinical and Translational Science Center. Dr. Jackson is a Stadtman Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Her research focuses on identifying physical and social environmental factors that contribute to racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health, with a particular focus on identifying modifiable contributors to poor sleep and subsequent cardiometabolic dysfunction along with the biological underpinnings of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Katie O’Brien exit disclaimer

Dr. Katie O’Brien is a co-Investigator of the Sister Study and a Staff Scientist in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She received her bachelor’s degree from Williams College (2005) and her Master’s Degree (2010) and PhD (2013) in Epidemiology from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. O’Brien’s research interests include vitamin D and breast cancer risk, and genetic and environmental risk factors for young-onset breast cancer. She is also interested in how douching and talc use may be associated with cancers of the reproductive tract. In addition to her own research, Dr. O’Brien helps to facilitate and improve Sister Study research by helping to design new questionnaires or sub-studies, assisting outside collaborators, and mentoring postdoctoral fellows and students working on the study.

Dr. Alexandra White exit disclaimer

Dr. Alexandra White is a Co-investigator of the Sister Study. She received her MSPH in 2012 and her PhD in 2015 from the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. Dr. White is a Stadtman Investigator in the Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Her research focuses on identifying environment and lifestyle risk factors for cancer and understanding the biologic mechanisms that allow cancer to develop. Dr. White has published research on factors that influence breast cancer risk, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and obesity.

Dr. Paula Scarborough Juras exit disclaimer

Dr. Paula Scarborough Juras is the NIEHS Project Officer for the Sister Study and the Two Sister Study, providing scientific and operational leadership for both. She earned a BA in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida. Her research centered on an indicator of breast cancer prognosis, and contributed to the development of protease inhibitor therapeutics for persons living with HIV. Following a research associateship with Duke University Medical Center, Dr. Juras accepted a research fellowship with the NIEHS, where she studied lung disorders associated with some breast cancer treatments. She joined the Epidemiology Branch in the NIEHS Division of Intramural Research as a Specialist in 1999.


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