The Research Team

(In Alphabetical Order)

Christopher C. Benz, M.D.
Steering Committee Member

Christopher C. Benz, M.D.

Dr. Benz is a professor and program director at the Buck Institute for Aging as well as a board certified oncologist at UCSF's Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, senior member of the UCSF Cancer Center's Breast Oncology Program, and faculty member in the UCSF-UC Berkeley Graduate Program of Bioengineering. Dr. Benz and his Buck Institute research team are currently researching the link between aging and the onset of breast cancer; in particular, why the incidence of breast cancer increases with age, and how the aging process alters breast cancer biology. His lab is currently investigating new therapeutic approaches to clinically aggressive subtypes of ER+ and ErbB2+ breast cancers. Dr. Benz’s early interest in hormone-related diseases motivated him to explore the role of genes in breast cancer. Furthermore, Dr. Benz is hopeful that the Marin Women’s Study will reveal new insights into specific gene-environment interactions associated with breast cancer risk among women. He feels strongly that collaborative research among scientists, clinicians, and advocacy groups will further our understanding of breast cancer as well as other women’s health issues.

 

Christina Clarke, Ph.D.
Steering Committee Member

Christina Clarke, Ph.D.Dr. Clarke is a research scientist and associate director of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and a lecturer in the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University. Dr. Clarke received her M.P.H. in epidemiology from Tulane University in 1996 and then her Ph.D. (also in epidemiology) from UC Berkeley in 1999. Dr. Clarke’s research efforts are centered in four areas: 1) the epidemiology of lymphomas, particularly Hodgkin lymphoma, 2) time trends and epidemiology of breast cancer, 3) immunologic and viral causes of malignancy, and 4) cancer surveillance and creative uses of cancer surveillance data (e.g., SEER, cancer registry data). Dr. Clarke is interested in geographic variations in breast cancer incidence especially in the Bay Area and methods to uncover possible immunologic causes. Currently, her breast cancer research explores environmental factors associated with immune system development (as identified by the “hygiene hypothesis” literature for asthma and allergy development). In addition to her research, Dr. Clarke advises the Marin Women’s Study about the cancer registry and other population-based data resources. In her spare time, Dr. Clarke enjoys spending time with her two children, skiing, hiking, watching college sports and wine tasting.

 

Rochelle Ereman, M.S., M.P.H.
Epidemiology Program Director

Rochelle Ereman, M.S., M.P.H.Rochelle has dedicated the past 16 years of her career serving women and children in the health field, working primarily in the area of prevention of illness and disease. Currently, she is the head of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services Community Epidemiology Program. In her first two years as epidemiology program director, she managed the first countywide health survey, worked to improve data surveillance for the health division, and directed breast cancer research projects for Marin County. Prior to her work in the epidemiology program, she served as the maternal and child health director for Marin County for four years. She also conducted clinical research in the area of human lactation at the University of California at Davis, ran three prenatal clinics in Yolo County, and lectured at the University of California at Davis in community nutrition. Her current research focuses on the epidemiology of breast cancer in Marin County, an area with historically elevated incidence rates, and the translation of epidemiologic concepts to the community. When not creating graphs, Rochelle enjoys mountain biking, hiking and backpacking.

 

Francine Halberg, M.D.
Steering Committee Member

Francine Halberg, M.D.

Dr. Francine Halberg is a radiation oncologist at the Marin Cancer Institute specializing in Breast Cancer. Dr. Halberg received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her M.D. from Cornell University. She was on the Radiation Oncology faculty of Stanford University, then the University of California, San Francisco prior to joining the team in Marin. Honors include being continually selected for Woodward & White's "The Best Doctors in America", top 1% of U.S. doctors. Dr. Halberg was also chosen as one of the top doctors in the U.S. by "Who's Who in North America", Good Housekeeping Magazine, Redbook, and Ladies Home Journal. Dr. Halberg has authored 34 scientific papers, and has lectured widely on breast cancer. In addition to being on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, she has chaired the ASTRO Task Force on Public Awareness. She also served as panel member, then Chair of the FDA Radiologic Devices Panel. She was chosen to be on the National Institute of Health's Consensus Development Panel for the Treatment of Early Stage Breast Cancer, and has addressed the President's Breast Cancer Commission. She helped launch the Radiation Oncology Institute, a foundation for radiation oncology research. Dr. Halberg's patients have inspired a longstanding interest in breast cancer research and treatment.

 

Leah Kelley, M.D.
Steering Committee Member

Leah Kelley, M.D.

Dr. Leah Kelley is a breast surgical oncologist, and the medical director of the Breast Oncology Program at Marin General Hospital. She received her medical degree from the University of Chicago, graduating with top honors. She went on to residency training in obstetrics and gynecologic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, and completed advanced fellowship training in breast surgical oncology at the University of Southern California. The author of several peer-reviewed articles in the gynecologic and breast cancer literature, Dr. Kelley continues to be actively involved in research. As a clinician, she combines a holistic, women's health approach with precision surgical care. As a committed member of the Marin community, she strives to make her practice a vital part of the larger community, and to build education and outreach into every aspect of care. She is an avid runner, cyclist and outdoorswoman.

 

Karla Kerlikowske, M.D.
Steering Committee Member

Karla Kerlikowske, M.D.

Dr. Kerlikowske is an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. Dr. Kerlikowske's research focuses on the epidemiology of invasive breast cancer and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS); patient and physician factors that influence the accuracy of screening mammography; improving breast cancer risk assessment; epidemiologic, biologic and genetic studies of breast density; and predictors of breast cancer recurrence. She uses three well-characterized study populations to address research questions:

  1. San Francisco Mammography Registry
  2. Bay Area DCIS cohort
  3. UCSF Breast Oncology Program tissue and outcomes database.

Dr. Kerlikowske is facilitating a novel measure of breast density for the Marin Women's Study and assisting with data collection through the SFMR.

 

Mary Mockus, M.D., Ph.D.
Steering Committee Member

Mary Mockus, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Mockus retired as a surgeon for Kaiser Permanente.  She received her Ph.D. (as well as her M.D.) from the University of Colorado, in breast cancer research, biochemistry, biophysics, and genetics.  Dr. Mockus is the Kaiser principal investigator on the Marin Women's Study, immediate past president  of the board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Marin YMCA, guest lecturer at Sonoma State, recipient of the Zero Breast Cancer's Honor Thy Healer Award, Marin resident  and mother of three. Her research interests are in the risk factors for breast cancer in Marin, as a road to designing prevention advice for the women of Marin. She is also an active supporter of the Marin Dance Theater, and she enjoys ballet, skiing and running.

 

Fern Orenstein, M.Ed.
Steering Committee Member

For over three decades, Fern has worked as a public health specialist within a variety of communicable disease and health promotion programs. Fern is currently with the UCSF Department of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital, where she serves as Program Manager for the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Program which provides a full continuum of medical care and support services to the underserved residents of San Francisco.  As a founding board member of Zero Breast Cancer (formerly Marin Breast Cancer Watch), Fern, a 19 year breast cancer survivor, is actively involved with a variety of breast cancer research studies and projects including the Marin Women’s Study.  With a focus on community based participatory research, education and advocacy, Fern is vested in keeping an environmental lens within the breast cancer research agenda. Residing with her family in Tamalpais Valley for over 25 years, Fern cherishes hiking the beautiful hills of Marin and staying fit with yoga, Pilates, and by dancing as much as possible!

 

Lee Ann Prebil, Ph.D.
Epidemiologist

Lee Ann is an Epidemiologist in the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services Community Epidemiology Program. She has been working for the health department since 1998, where she has focused on issues of cancer, maternal and child health, and community based research, including studies of breast cancer. Lee Ann completed her Ph.D. in epidemiology at UC Berkeley, where she also earned her Master’s in Public Health, with a focus on maternal and child health. Her major interests are in women's health and its impact on the family, the role of nutrition in health, community based research, and the translation of research findings into public health practice.

 

Elad Ziv, M.D.
Steering Committee Member

Elad Ziv, M.D.

Dr. Ziv is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a member of the Institute for Human Genetics and the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is interested in understanding genetic susceptibility to breast cancer risk, progression and drug response. His group uses an approach that combines principles from population genetics and epidemiology. He is currently study the genetics of breast cancer susceptibility in Latina women. He is also studying the genetics of mammographic density.