Titles and Affiliations

Chief, Division of Breast Surgery
Professor, Department of Surgery  
Co-Chief, Breast Service, John Theurer Cancer Center  
Professor, Department of Surgery  
Hackensack-Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall 
Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack, New Jersey

Research area

Identifying innovative approaches to improve response to therapies for triple-negative breast cancer.


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an extremely aggressive and heterogeneous disease. It accounts for 15-20 percent of all invasive breast cancers, and affects young women, particularly African Americans and women with inherited mutations in the BRCA gene. Although chemotherapy is an effective therapy against TNBC, only 35-40 percent of these patients respond to chemotherapy before surgery and the majority progress to metastatic disease within three years after diagnosis. The discovery that the composition of the gut and tumor microbiome, which consist of tens of trillions bacteria, can influence whether or not a patient responds to chemotherapy prompted Drs. Montgomery and Feinman to ask if certain types of gut and tumor bacteria increase the efficacy of neoadjuvant chemotherapy. They aim to identify novel microbiota-associated biomarkers that predict poor outcome—this could lead to the development of personalized microbial-based therapies that harness the immune system of TNBC patients to effectively defeat this disease. 

Progress Thus Far

Drs. Montgomery and Feinman have found the presence of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in TNBC tumor biopsies prior to and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. 

What's next

The team will continue accruing patients to their study and will reach the targeted enrollment total in the next year. Analyses of gut and tumor bacteria to establish correlations with patient immune response and outcome are ongoing.


Dr. Leslie L. Montgomery is a board-certified surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer. She is Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center and the Co-Director of the Breast Service at John Theurer Cancer Center. She was formally an attending breast surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for more than 11 years, where she served as Director of the Special Surveillance Breast Program and the Director of the Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program. From 2009 through 2015, Dr. Montgomery was the Chief of the Division of Breast Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center and the Director of Breast Services at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

Dr. Montgomery received her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and earned her medical degree at the University of California,  San Francisco. After her residency in general surgery at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center, she completed research fellowships at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Her research interests include preoperative therapy trials to reduce the burden of disease in the breast and axillary nodes to minimize surgical intervention.

BCRF Investigator Since


Areas of Focus