Elizabeth Stern was a Canadian-born American pathologist, especially well known for her insights on the cell’s progression from a healthy to a cancerous state.
Stern published what is widely recognized as the first case report linking a specific virus (herpes simplex) to a specific cancer (cervical cancer). She was also the first (1973) to show a definite link between the prolonged use of combined oral contraceptive pills and cervical cancer, connecting the use of the contraceptive pill with cervical dysplasia
Her breakthrough studies of cervical cancers changed the disease from fatal to one of the most easily diagnosed and treatable. She demonstrated that a normal cell advances through 250 distinct stages before reaching an advanced cancerous state. This allowed the development of effective diagnostic techniques and prophylactic measures (excision of abnormal tissue), which, combined with this cancer’s slow rate of metastasis, reduced its fatality rate drastically.