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Janet Stanford, director of Program in Prostate Cancer Research

On the leading edge

As Janet Stanford shifts her weight on her snowboard, there are no peers around to see the perfect powder turns she's carved in a field of fresh snow, just her 18-year-old son. No matter. Surfing through the evergreen trees is exhilarating even if she's the only woman over 50 shredding the mountain.

"I love breaking the stereotype," she said. "I've had so many teenage-boy snowboarding instructors over the years, and they just look at me and roll their eyes. Then we get out on the mountain and have a great time together. One said to me, 'This is really what we need — more older women taking up the sport — to give it more credibility.'"

Stanford has blazed her own trail in epidemiological research, too. In the early 1990s, a hunt for answers following her father's prostate-cancer diagnosis revealed a discouraging lack of information on the causes of prostate cancer and how the disease and various treatments affected men's lives.

Stanford became one of the first Center researchers to focus on prostate cancer and today is recognized worldwide as an expert in the field. Her numerous studies and leadership of the Program in Prostate Cancer Research have illuminated many of the environmental, behavioral and genetic factors that can cause the disease.

She also helps lead a nationwide research project of more than 2,000 people in more than 300 families exploring why prostate-cancer risk is higher in some families.

Understanding the inherited genetic mutations for prostate cancer may provide new clues to help diagnose, treat, cure and even prevent it in future generations.

The hope of cancer prevention motivates Stanford on a very personal level. Five of her close family members have fought cancer. "I look at my son," she said, "and I am inspired to do something to prevent him from getting prostate cancer like both of his grandfathers."

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