Schairer Retires from NCI

Dr. Schairer

Dr. Catherine Schairer

Dr. Catherine Schairer, senior staff scientist in NCI’s Metabolic Epidemiology Branch (MEB), retired from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics in September after 37 years of service. She is best known for her work on female breast cancer.

Schairer earned her master of science in biostatistics from the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining DCEG as a health statistician in 1982. She earned her doctorate in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University after receiving a long-term training fellowship from NCI. She worked as an epidemiologist in the division since 1993, primarily in the Biostatistics Branch, and more recently in MEB. 

Schairer made integral contributions to the division’s study of breast cancer in two major areas: risk associated with exogenous menopausal hormone use and the etiology of inflammatory breast cancer.   

She led studies of inflammatory breast cancer in North Africa through political revolutions in both Egypt and Tunisia and in the Cancer Research Network in the United States. DNA retrieved from the North Africa study will contribute to the study of breast cancer genetics through genome-wide association studies by creating a large and diverse resource of breast cancer cases and controls in the Confluence Project.

Schairer received the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics Mentoring Award in 1998. She also served on several committees, and since 2011 had been chair of the NCI special studies institutional review board, for which she received the DCEG Special Recognition Award in 2019.   

“Cathy’s leadership of the special studies IRB was exemplary and was critical in allowing DCEG to maintain and grow its crucial portfolio of national and international studies that presented human subjects protection challenges distinct from those faced by clinical researchers,” said Dr. Christian Abnet, chief and senior investigator in MEB. “Her work ensured that all DCEG activities met the highest ethical standards and will serve as a guidepost for our work in the future.”