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Mary Wolff

  • PROFESSOR Preventive Medicine
  • PROFESSOR Oncological Sciences
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  • B.A., Wellesley College

  • M.Phil, Yale University

  • Ph.D., Yale University

  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine


    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.


Wolff MS, Anderson HA, Selikoff IJ. Human tissue burdens of halogenated aromatic chemicals in Michigan. JAMA 1982 Apr 16; 247(15): 2112-6.

Wolff MS, Toniolo PG, Lee EW, Rivera M, Dubin N. Blood levels of organochlorine residues and risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 1993 Apr 21; 85(8): 648-52.

Krieger N, Wolff MS, Hiatt RA, Rivera M, Vogelman J, Orentreich N. Breast cancer and serum organochlorines: a prospective study among white, black, and Asian women. J Natl Cancer Inst 1994 Apr 20; 86(8): 589-99.

Hunter DJ, Hankinson SE, Laden F, Colditz GA, Manson JE, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Wolff MS. Plasma organochlorine levels and the risk of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 1997 Oct 30; 337(18): 1253-8.

Torres-Sanchez L, Lopez-Carrillo L, Lopez-Cervantes M, Rueda-Neria C, Wolff MS. Food sources of phytoestrogens and breast cancer risk in Mexican women. Nutr Cancer 2000; 37(2): 134-9.

Kadlubar FF, Berkowitz GS, Delongchamp RR, Wang C, Green BL, Tang G, Lamba J, Schuetz E, Wolff MS. The CYP3A4*1B variant is related to the onset of puberty, a known risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2003 Apr; 12(4): 327-31.

Berkowitz GS, Wolff MS, Janevic TM, Holzman IR, Yehuda R, Landrigan PJ. The World Trade Center disaster and intrauterine growth restriction. JAMA 2003 Aug 6; 290(5): 595-6.

Wolff MS, Teitelbaum SL, Lioy PJ, Santella RM, Wang RY, Jones RL, Caldwell KL, Sjodin A, Turner WE, Li W, Georgopoulos P, Berkowitz GS. Exposures among pregnant women near the World Trade Center site on 11 September 2001. Envrion Health Perspect 2005 Jun; 113(6): 739-48.

Wolff MS, Britton JA, Teitelbaum SL, Eng S, Deych E, Ireland K, Liu Z, Neugut AI, Santella RM, Gammon MD. Improving organochlorine biomarker models for cancer research. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2005 Sep; 14(9): 2224-36.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Wolff did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2015 and/or 2016: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website. Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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