Deardorff wins award for study on girls’ transitions through puberty and breast cancer risk

Julianna Deardorff, assistant professor of maternal and child health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, recently won the 2013 Community Breast Cancer Research Award from Zero Breast Cancer for her work as a co-investigator of the CYGNET Study (Cohort Study of Young Girls' Nutrition, Environment, and Transitions). She was presented with the award on May 9 at the 2013 Honor Thy Healer awards program, which was attended by Bay Area business and health care leaders, public health officials, honoree supporters, breast cancer advocates, and community members.

“It was a wonderful honor to be selected, along with my esteemed colleagues, by Zero Breast Cancer for this year's Community Breast Cancer Research Award,” said Deardorff. “The event was a poignant reminder of all the important work that is being accomplished across disciplines and settings to tackle this persistent disease and its potential environmental determinants.”

Deardorff was recognized along with CYGNET Study co-investigators Dr. Louise Greenspan,  Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, and Gayle Windham, California Department of Public Health. This team is investigating how environmental exposures and biological and socioeconomic factors influence girl’s transitions through puberty and potential breast cancer risk.

The CYGNET Study is exploring the hypotheses that puberty is a “window of susceptibility,” a time during the lifespan when maturing breast cells may be especially sensitive to potential carcinogens, stressors and exposures that may in turn affect the risk of breast cancer later in life. The study is directed through the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in collaboration with UCSF and Zero Breast Cancer, with funding from the NIEHS-NCI Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program.

Deardorff holds master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, with an emphasis on adolescence, and completed her clinical internship at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. Her research focuses on risk factors for girls’ early pubertal timing and subsequent poor health outcomes, both in terms of short-term emotional and behavioral consequences in adolescence and long-term health consequences in adulthood. In the CYGNET Study, Deardorff is particularly interested in the contribution of social and contextual factors to girls’ pubertal development.

Zero Breast Cancer is a community organization dedicated to prevention and finding the causes of breast cancer through community participation in the research process. The Honor Thy Healer program was created in 1999 to showcase Zero Breast Cancer’s research and educational programs, as well as to recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations that have made a significant difference in the lives of those affected by breast cancer and advanced understanding of breast cancer and the healing process.