Gertrude Case Buehring PhD

Professor of the Graduate School
Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology

Gertrude C. Buehring is a Professor of Virology whose goal has been to uncover a viral cause of breast cancer. She 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 Case 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 has been to uncover a virus that causes breast cancer, a leading cause of death in women of the USA and a cause in many US men. Despite decades of skepticism, she pursued bovine leukemia virus (BLV) as a suspect. This virus causes widespread infection in beef and dairy cattle of the USA 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 primary method of identifying BLV within individual breast cancer cells of intact clinical breast tissue sections, has been in situ PCR (polymerase chain reaction).

Over the past 30 years, together with students and/or collaborators, the Bradford-Hill criteria, considered necessary to prove causation of an infectious disease, have been met for BLV as a cause of human breast cancer.  Especially, validation of her case-control studies by other researchers has tipped the balance in favor of accepting BLV as one of the causes of human breast cancer. Also, an important mechanism of carcinogenic action of BLV and the closely related HTLV (human T cell leukemia virus) was discovered in her laboratory as part of the dissertation research of one of her PhD students, Sean Philpott. Her current research focuses on: 1) determining frequency of BLV in commercial beef and dairy products; 2) determining BLV infection patterns in male breast cancer tissue samples; 3) comparing BLV histologic patterns in metastatic versus primary breast cancer tissue specimens to help determine what triggers breast cancer metastasis. The ultimate goal of all her research is to prevent breast cancer from ever getting started.

  • PhD – Genetics, UC 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