Jill Bargonetti, PhD

Jill Bargonetti, PhD

Hesselbach Professor of Biological Sciences
City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College;
Chair of the Molecular Cellular and Developmental PhD subprogram
CUNY Graduate Center

Dr. Bargonetti, PhD, is a leader in the area of cancer biology with a focus on the wild-type and mutant p53 pathways and their cross-talk modulators MDM2 and MDMX. Much of Bargonetti’s research focuses on how breast cancer cells evade normal cell proliferation checkpoint programs when they express high levels of mutant p53, PARP, MDM2, and MDMX. In normal cells, p53 is responsible for turning on the genes that are required for cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The proteins MDM2 and MDMX keep p53 activity under control. In some cancer cells, MDM2 and MDMX are “hyperactive” and cause cells to inactivate their wild-type p53. Strikingly, 80% of triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) inactivate the p53 gene, and pathway, by mutations. Dr. Bargonetti’s team investigates how mutant p53, PARP, MDM2 and MDMX function, and cross-talk, in cancer cells. The team is working to understand how these proteins can be used as breast cancer biomarkers to shift TNBC, and other hard to treat breast cancers, into treatable diseases.

Jill Bargonetti, PhD, is the Hesselbach professor of biological sciences at the City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College, and is the chair of the Molecular Cellular and Developmental PhD subprogram at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she holds professor appointments in the departments of Biology and Biochemistry. Bargonetti is also an adjunct professor at the Weill Cornell School of Medicine as a member of the department of Cell Biology and a preceptor on the mTOR T32 training program. She is a scientist, educator, choreographer, (who in addition to running an active cancer research laboratory) teaches a class she developed called “Choreographing Genomics,” and also teaches undergraduate cell biology, and the PhD student first-year molecular, cellular, and developmental seminar.

Bargonetti is a native New Yorker who never had a Black science teacher. As such, she decided to become one. She went to Hunter College Elementary School and Hunter High School, but then transferred to the Bronx High School of Science. She earned her BA in biology from the State University of New York at Purchase after first being a dance major. She earned her PhD in molecular biology from New York University, working with Richard P. Novick, PhD, a National Academy of Science member. From 1990 to 1994, she received Post-doctoral training under the direction of Carol Prives, PhD, another National Academy of Science member, at Columbia University. In 1994, she returned to where she went to elementary school, CUNY Hunter College. Her notable awards including receiving the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from Bill Clinton in 1997, the New York City Mayor’s award and outstanding women scientist award from the Association for Women in Science in 2001, Distinguished alumni awards from SUNY Purchase and NYU in 2005, and was elected to the Bronx High School of Science Hall of Fame in 2017. Jill Bargonetti is happy to be a mentor to the diverse CUNY student population.