Leena Hilakivi-Clarke




Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC)
General profile


+1 202-687-7237


Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke's research involves studying the role of estrogens and diet in breast cancer. She currently investigates transgenerational effects of maternal dietary estrogenic exposures during pregnancy on offspring’s breast cancer risk, focusing on alterations in the epigenome (DNA methylation, histone modifications and miRNAS) as causing the increase in breast cancer risk among daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters. In addition, her laboratory is investigating the mechanisms explaining how dietary estrogenic exposures in utero or during childhood can impact the biology of later mammary tumors, and their response to antiestrogen therapy. Dietary factors that Dr. Hilakivi-Clarke studies include polyunsaturated fatty acids, obesity-inducing high fat diet, genistein in soyfoods and vitamin D. She collaborates closely with computational engineers at Virginia Tech and therefore her studies have a strong Systems Biology component.


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  • Postdoctoral Fellow (1990) NIH, NIAAA, Pharmacology
  • Ph.D. (1987) University of Helsinki, Finland,
  • MA (1983) University of Helsinki, Finland, Physiology & Exp. Psychology
  • BA (1982) University of Helsinki, Finland, Biology & Exp. Psychology


  • Finnish (speak, read, write)