Biostatistics Environmental Health Sciences Epidemiology & Community Health Health Policy & Management

Irina Stepanov PhD » Faculty – Division of Environmental Health Sciences

Faculty | Adjunct Faculty

Assistant Professor

School of Public HealthDivision of Environmental Health Sciences

Address Division of Environmental Health Sciences 420 Delaware St SE MMC 807 Minneapolis MN 55454 Work Phone: 612-624-4998
Photo of Irina Stepanov PhD


Dr. Stepanov received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Moldova State University (Republic of Moldova) in 2002.  She completed postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Stephen Hecht at the University of Minnesota (2003-2005), and continued working as a Research Associate with Dr. Hecht at the Masonic Cancer Center (2005-2011).  In 2011, she joined the faculty of the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, Moldova State University, Republic of Moldova, 2002
  • B.S., Chemistry, Moldova State University, Republic of Moldova, 1997

Professional Experience:

  • 2011-Present: Assistant Professor, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
  • 2005-2011: Research Associate, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
  • 2003-2005: Postdoctoral Associate, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
  • 1998-2003: Research Assistant, Department of Industrial and Ecological Chemistry, Moldova State University


  • U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation and Moldovan Research and Development Foundation, Long Term Travel Fellowship for Young Investigators (2003)
  • The Government of Moldova,  State Prize for Young Investigators in the Field of Science and Technology (2002)
  • American Chemical Society-Central European Environmental Chemistry Program, Travel and Research Fellowship (2001)

Research Interests:

Development of novel biomarkers of human exposure to chemical carcinogens; carcinogen-induced damage to chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA; application of biomarkers to understand inter-individual differences in susceptibility to chemical carcinogen-induced cancer; tobacco carcinogenesis.

Selected Publications:

  • Yuan J. M., Knezevich A. D., Wang R., Gao Y. T., Hech S.S., Stepanov I.  (2011) Urinary levels of the tobacco-specific carcinogen N′-nitrosonornicotine and its glucuronide are strongly associated with esophageal cancer risk in smokers. Carcinogenesis, 32(9):1366-1371.
  • Kotlyar M., Hertsgaard L.A., Lindgren B.R., Jensen J.A., Carmella S.G., Stepanov I., Murphy S.E., Hecht S.S., Hatsukami D.K. (2011). Effect of oral snus and medicinal nicotine in smokers on toxicant exposure and withdrawal symptoms: a feasibility study. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 20(1):91-100.
  • Stepanov I., Carmella S.G., Briggs A., Hertsgaard L., Lindgren B., Hatsukami D., Hecht S.S. (2009). Presence of the carcinogen N‘-nitrosonornicotine in the urine of some users of oral nicotine replacement therapy products.  Cancer Research, 69(21):8236-8240. PMCID: PMC2783463
  • Stepanov I., Carmella S.G., Han S., Pinto A., Strasser A.A., Lerman C., Hecht S.S. (2009) Evidence for endogenous formation of N′-nitrosonornicotine in some long term nicotine patch users.  Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 11(1):99-105. PMCID: PMC2734288
  • Stepanov I., Hecht S.S. (2009) Mitochondrial DNA adducts in the lung and liver of F344 rats chronically treated with 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone and (S)-4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol.  Chemical Research in Toxicology, 22(2):406-414. PMCID: PMC2664261
  • Stepanov I., Jensen J., Hatsukami D., Hecht S.S. (2008) New and traditional smokeless tobacco: comparison of toxicant and carcinogen levels. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 10(12):1773-1782.
  • Stepanov I., Upadhyaya P., Feuer R., Jensen J., Hatsukami D.K., Hecht S.S. (2008) Extensive metabolic activation of the tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone in smokers.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 17(7):1764-1773. PMCID: PMC2542896
  • Hecht S.S., Carmella S.G., Edmonds A., Murphy S.E., Stepanov I., Luo X., Hatsukami D.K. (2008) Exposure to nicotine and a tobacco-specific carcinogen increase with duration of use of smokeless tobacco.  Tobacco Control, 17:128-131
  • Hecht S.S., Carmella S.G., Stepanov I., Jensen, J., Hatsukami, D.K. (2008) Metabolism of the tobacco-specific carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone to its biomarker total NNAL in smokeless tobacco users.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 17(3):732-735.
  • Stepanov I., Hecht S.S., Lindgren B., Peyton J. III, Wilson M., Benowitz N.L. (2007) Relationship of human toenail nicotine, cotinine, and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol to levels of these biomarkers in plasma and urine.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 16(7):1382-1386.
  • Stepanov I., Hecht S.S., Duca Gh., Mardari I. (2006) Uptake of the tobacco-specific lung carcinogen 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) by Moldovan children.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 14(4):885-891.
  • Stepanov I., Hecht S.S. (2005) Tobacco-specific nitrosamines and their pyridine-N-glucuronides in the urine of smokers and smokeless tobacco users.  Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 14(4):885-891.