NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NCI’s McMaster Retires

Dr. McMaster portrait
Dr. Mary Lou McMaster

Dr. Mary Lou McMaster, senior clinical specialist in the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and captain in the Public Health Service, retired in December. 

McMaster devoted nearly 25 years to longitudinal studies of families with rare cancer predisposition syndromes, from Waldenström macroglobulinemia, a rare subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, to familial chronic lymphoproliferative disorders and the epidemiology and familial aspects of chordoma. She was recognized for her teamwork in familial testicular cancer with the NCI Director’s Award and received the Peter S. Bing Humanitarian Award for Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia from the International Workshop on Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia.

“We have the opportunity to better understand the genetic determinants of inherited cancer predisposition, to identify the role of specific, perhaps modifiable, environmental factors that modulate susceptibility, and to identify patients who may benefit from prevention strategies,” she said in 2019, reflecting on the work of DCEG staff clinicians. 

McMaster joined NCI as a clinical research fellow in the then-Genetic Epidemiology Branch, DCEG, to pursue clinical research in cancer genetics with an emphasis on familial cancer syndromes. She was promoted to staff clinician in 2002 and transferred to CGB in 2016. 

McMaster received her M.D. from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest University and completed residency training in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology at Vanderbilt University. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in cellular biology at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she came to NIH, where she completed training in clinical medical genetics. A PHS commissioned officer, she was promoted to captain in 2012.

In her service to the Commissioned Corps, she was deployed twice, as part of the response to Hurricane Dean in San Antonio, Tex., in 2007, and in 2021 as part of the Corps Care Covid-19 Response. She was recognized with the Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Award, the Outstanding Unit Citation and numerous PHS Unit Commendations.

McMaster served for nearly 10 years on the NCI Institutional Review Board, and since 2019, had served as chair of the NCI Ethics Review Panel.

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