Mary S Wolff

Mary S Wolff, PhD

  • PROFESSOR | Environmental Medicine & Public Health
  • PROFESSOR | Oncological Sciences

Mary Wolff joined Mount Sinai to work with Dr. Irving J. Selikoff in 1974 as a post-doctoral fellow in Environmental Medicine, and since that time she has been a faculty member in the Medical School. Her research interests center around application of biological markers to determine exposures of humans to chemicals that occur in the environment. In addition to exogenous agents, environmental exposures are considered in the context of diet, lifestyle and individual susceptibility factors, and their relationship to cancer risk, to reproductive dysfunction and to developmental disorders. She has been involved in numerous studies of both occupational and ambient environmental exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organochlorine pesticides and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). She has also investigated lead poisoning, dermal exposures, and chemicals in breast milk. She has collaborated in several studies of breast cancer risk associated with environmental exposures and the genetic determinants of these risks. Around Y2K, she shifted emphasis to newly identified exposures that may be most relevant to the twenty-first century. Her research in breast cancer addressed ethnic variability in exposures and how these differences may be related to disease risk, which led her to investigate environmental exposures in children in relation to somatic, neurologic, and reproductive development and to  racial/ethnic differences in exposure and disease.

Dr. Wolff is past Director of the EPA/NIEHS Center for Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research, an NIH/EPA-funded multidisciplinary research program now in its eighth year. In addition, her group is concluding a 12-year investigation environmental and genetic risks for early puberty in Black and Latina children, research that is intended to elucidate risk for breast cancer and other chronic diseases. She has also directed research cohorts of children followed since before birth, to examine risks associated with prenatal exposures, particularly changes in neurobehavior related to exposure. These include a multiethnic cohort of pregnant women who delivered at Mount Sinai between 1998 and 2002 and another cohort of mothers who were exposed while pregnant to chemicals and dust after the disaster at the World Trade Center.


BA, Wellesley College

MPhil, Yale University

PhD, Yale University

Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Mount Sinai School of Medicine