Caryn Lerman, PhD

Caryn  Lerman Caryn Lerman, PhD, is internationally recognized for her cancer prevention research that bridges the fields of genomics, pharmacology, and population science. She has deep knowledge of multiple frameworks of cancer discovery and innovation from basic and translational/clinical science to population-based research and biotechnology. A major unifying focus of her research has been on biology-driven science to reduce cancer risk behaviors. This work has spawned novel lines of investigation, including the behavioral epidemiology of cancer genetic susceptibility testing; pharmacogenomic approaches to cancer prevention, leading to the first prospective stratified pharmacogenomic trial of tobacco dependence treatment; and neuroscience-based interventions to reduce tobacco dependence and obesity. 

Continuously funded by NCI since 1989, Dr. Lerman has been the principal investigator on more than $70 million (direct costs) in NIH grants, including an NCI Provocative Question Award, three NCI P50 Centers, and an NCI R35 Outstanding Investigator Award (2015-2022). Her work has been cited over 25,000 times. 

An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Lerman has served as a member of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council, and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse Advisory Council. She is also past president of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and has received numerous awards for her work including the American Cancer Society Cancer Control Award, the American Society of Preventive Oncology Joseph Cullen Award, the Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Health, and the NIH Matilda White Riley Award. 
Dr. Lerman’s experience in cancer center leadership roles spans over two decades. Having led the Cancer Genetics Program at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center, she was recruited in 2001 to serve as associate director for population science and then senior deputy director at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining USC, Dr. Lerman served as vice dean for strategic initiatives in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Lerman was appointed director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center on March 15, 2019, where she is building upon the strong legacy of translational and transdisciplinary science to reduce the burden of cancer and cancer disparities at a regional and national level.