Gertrude Case Buehring PhD

Professor of the Graduate School
Public Health, Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology Program

Gertrude C. Buehring is a Professor of Virology whose goal is to uncover a viral agent of breast cancer, and has received several honorary awards for her research including the Cornelius Hopper and

Otto Sartorius awards for excellence in breast cancer research, a Fulbright Scholar Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology.

Gertrude C. Buehring, Ph.D. is a Professor of Virology in the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology Division of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research goal is to uncover a viral agent of breast cancer, and for the past 20 years she has been pursuing bovine leukemia virus (BLV) as a suspect. This virus causes widespread infection in cattle and is harbored within cells in their milk and blood. Breast cancer incidence is highest in countries with the greatest consumption of milk and dairy products. Her research group has made several important discoveries about BLV that support its plausibility as a breast cancer virus: BLV infects the breast epithelium of cattle (it was previously thought to infect only lymphocytes); its transcription is stimulated by steroid hormones progesterone and glucocorticoids; and it inhibits DNA repair, which may be a mechanism of causing somatic cell mutations which lead to transformation of cells from normal to malignant. She and collaborators have also established that ≈40% of humans have antibodies to BLV, and that BLV DNA is present in human breast tissue and significantly associated with breast cancer. Current research is focused on determining whether BLV is transmitted to humans from bovine food products or from other humans already infected, or both. Determining the source of BLV infection could lead to new ways to prevent breast cancer.

She has received several honorary awards for her research including the Cornelius Hopper (1999, 2002)and Otto Sartorius awards (2003)for excellence in breast cancer research, a Fulbright Scholar Award (2003), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology (2015). She was a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Society for Microbiology (2011-13). She was one of 5 researcher finalists in the 2019 competition among >300 entries for the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer sponsored by the California Breast Cancer Research Program. Her courses at UC Berkeley have been Public Health Microbiology (PH162A) and Viruses and Human Cancer (PH266) and in 2015 was awarded the Zak Sabry mentorship award from the School of Public Health.

  • PhD – Genetics, University of California, Berkeley
  • CLS – Doctors Hospital (clinical laboratory scientist)
  • BA – Biology, Stanford University
  • Viral etiology of human breast cancer
  • Bovine leukemia virus and its possible role in causing human breast cancer
  • Primary prevention of breast cancer by eliminating bovine leukemia virus from California cattle herds, which are heavily infected.
  • PH 298
  • PH299
  • URAP mentoring