The Life and Work of Dr. Leslie Bernstein

Leslie Bernstein, PhD, one of the founders and long-time champions of the California Teachers Study, recently died peacefully, with family by her side. She was 82 years old.

For many years, Dr. Bernstein had a hand in almost everything the CTS did. You probably remember seeing her picture in the annual newsletters. When you received new surveys to complete, her signature was often on the accompanying letters inviting you to fill in and return those surveys.


She loved hearing from, and always made time for, you, the participants who make the CTS what it is. Many of you got to interact with her by phone when you called the CTS hotline with questions, concerns, or updates. For Dr. Bernstein, being available for you all and answering your questions and hearing your stories was one of the most important and enjoyable responsibilities she had on the Study. Those of us who worked with her saw, time and time again, how energized and inspired and delighted she was after hearing from you.


Behind the scenes, she performed many essential tasks for many years. In 2006, one of the beloved lead investigators on the CTS team died unexpectedly. Dr. Bernstein stepped in and helped guide the CTS team as it navigated that challenging period of grief and adjustment. She took the reins as Principal Investigator soon thereafter and led the Study for another 10 years. As Principal Investigator, she had a lead role in securing the funds necessary for the study to continue, in setting the scientific agenda, and in recruiting new team members and collaborators. She was a tireless advocate for the CTS, its incredible participants, and the important research that was being conducted.


Over the years she received many awards for her research and mentoring. She felt it was especially important to mentor women scientists, and her reputation for promoting and supporting female scientists set an example that others are following today. Since her death, numerous tributes have emerged; you can find some of those here. More on her impressive life and the beginning of the CTS can be found in a 2017 blog post published by City of Hope.


Dr. Bernstein left a remarkable legacy and inspired countless researchers over the years. We hope your memories of your interactions with her continue to be a blessing. The CTS won’t be the same without her, but the examples she set can guide us all for years to come.