Titles and Affiliations

Professor, Hunter College
Chair, Molecular, Cellular, and Development PhD Program
Department of Biological Sciences Hunter College Belfer Research Building
Graduate Center, City University of New York
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College Department of Cell Biology
Hunter College / City University of New York
New York, New York

Research area

To develop new ways to target triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer, and prevent its growth and metastasis.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a group of diseases that are difficult to treat and have a high likelihood of spreading to other tissues —a process called metastasis. Part of the challenge is that TNBCs currently have few biomarkers that can be used to detect, diagnose, and manage it. Dr. Bargonetti is studying three critical biomarkers—mtp53, MDMX and MDM2—known to drive TNBC and other types of breast cancer to determine how they can be targeted to kill cancer cells. These studies have the potential to improve early detection and targeted therapeutics with the development of TNBC-associated biomarkers.

Project Thus Far

Dr. Bargonetti has advanced the understanding of the role mtp53, MDMX, MDM2 in the spread of TNBC. Her  work has shown that: 1) metastatic TNBCs that harbor a mutated p53 protein (mtp53) are sensitive to PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs that target cells with deficient DNA repair;  2) MDM2 and MDMX are often upregulated along with mtp53 in highly metastatic breast cancer; and 3) upregulation of MDMX increases circulating tumor cells (CTCs) thereby facilitating TNBC metastasis. Her team has also developed a novel peptide that targets mtp53.

What’s next

Dr. Bargonetti and her team will continue to explore the mtp53-MDMX-MDM2 axis as a target for development of novel strategies to accurately identify and kill TNBC cells. Specifically, they will  further investigate mtp53 as a biomarker for sensitivity to PARP inhibitors as well as other drug combinations, and pursue studies to determine whether MDMX may be a novel marker for liquid biopsy. 


Professor Bargonetti has carried out extensive research on the wild-type p53 protein (which assists in the suppression of tumor cells) and oncogenic mutant p53 (which is a tumor promoter). She is also a leader in the field of MDM2 research, studying how MDM2 promotes breast cancer proliferation and the survival of circulating tumor cells. Jill Bargonetti received her B.A. from SUNY Purchase, her M.S. and Ph.D. from New York University and her postgraduate training from Columbia University. In 1994 she joined the professoriate at The City University of New York (CUNY) at Hunter College and The Graduate Center in the PhD Programs of Biology and Biochemistry and currently holds the title of Full Professor at CUNY along with an adjunct professoriate appointment at the Weill Cornell Medical College in the Department of Cell Biology. Bargonetti was awarded the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and has received research grants from the American Cancer Society, The Department of Defense, The National Science Foundation (NSF), The National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). She was a member of the National Cancer Policy Board from 2002 until 2005 (a board of the Institution of Medicine and National Research Council of the National Academies) and served on the NIH Tumor Cell Biology study section from 2012-2018.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies' Brands Award in Memory of Evelyn H. Lauder

Areas of Focus