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METAvivor's research program is advised by a team of preeminent scientists and oncologists specializing in metastatic cancer research and treatment. In addition to providing expertise regarding the research that METAvivor funds, our Research Advisory Board also supports the METAvivor patient community with up-to-date information about relevant news and progress regarding research and treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
Dr. Jill Bargonetti
City University of New York (CUNY) at the Graduate Center and Hunter College; Weill Cornell Medical College
Jill Bargonetti, Ph.D. is a native New Yorker who attended Hunter College Elementary School and High School and then transferred to the Bronx High School of Science. She earned her B.A. at the State University of New York College at Purchase and her Ph.D. at New York University and postdoctoral work at Columbia University. She serves as chair of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology subprogram of the Ph.D. Program in Biology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and as professor of biological sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center, Hunter College and Weill Cornell Medical College. Since 1994, she has led the Bargonetti cancer biology laboratory, where her team is using genetically engineered tools to research breast cancer and other cancers.
Her areas of cancer expertise are on the p53 and MDM2/MDMX pathways and their relationships to cancer biology. She has 31 years of research experience with mutant p53 (mtp53), being a member of the group that first identified that oncogenic mtp53 lost its site-specific DNA binding ability. She has published research in prestigious scientific journals including Cell, Nature, Genes and Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Cancer Research. She has served as a standing member of the Tumor Cell Biology study section grant review panel for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 2012 to 2018. She was a member of the National Cancer Policy Board from 2002-2005.
She has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Department of Defense. She has been honored by the U.S. government as an innovator in the education of minorities in science. Her awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, from President Bill Clinton; the New York City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology; the New York Voice Award (given to those who have made a significant improvement to the quality of life in New York City); the Kathy Keeton Mountain Top Award from the New York branch of the NAACP; the Outstanding Woman Scientist Award from the Association for Women in Science; the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science and SUNY Purchase Outstanding Alumnae Achievement Awards and has been named to the Bronx High School of Science Hall of Fame. She was profiled by Working Mother magazine as one of the nation’s “Stellar Moms.” She is also working on integrating science education and movement and has developed a Hunter College course called “Choreographing Genomics”.
Her scientific work is currently funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Stuart. S. Martin, PhD.
Associate Professor at the Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Dr. Martin then did his postdoctoral training in Dr. Phil Leder’s Lab at Harvard Medical School where he combined functional genomic tissue culture systems with mouse models of breast cancer to examine how the cytoskeleton regulates tumor cell survival during metastasis.
In 2004, he joined the University of Maryland, as an Assistant Professor of Physiology in the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center to continue his work on breast tumor metastasis. In 2009, he was recognized from over 300 graduate faculty as the “Teacher of the Year” in the Graduate Program in Life Sciences, and received tenure in 2011.
Most normal epithelial cells undergo controlled cell-death if they ever detach from the mammary gland during development. His studies have found that metastatic breast tumor cells are not sensitive to this controlled cell-death and can therefore, survive longer when detached from the malignant breast tissue. This “detachment” in turn helps these “circulating tumor cells” spread to other secondary tissues (lungs, bone, brain, etc) and establish new metastatic growths.
Using the latest genomic and proteomics approach, Dr. Martin also investigates genes involved in the survival of these circulating tumor cells. An additional project in the Martin Lab focuses on understanding “tumor dormancy” using the latest live-imaging techniques. Dr. Martin can observe “dormant tumor cells” in live animals and study treatment/therapeutic responses of these cells during tumor dormancy. Dr. Martin’s lab also made the first discovery of unique “microtentacles” on breast tumor cells that increase the ability of circulating breast tumor cells to reattach in distant tissues during metastasis. In recent years, Dr. Martin’s group has published a series of pioneering articles defining the molecular characteristics of microtentacles and mechanisms to target them therapeutically to reduce metastasis.
Dr. Stuart Martin has published over 75 research articles and abstracts in cancer research, and is the recipient of many funded-grants from the NIH, Department of Defense and numerous private cancer research foundations. In 2010, Dr. Martin was one of three investigators nationwide to receive a Breast Cancer Era of Hope Scholar award from the congressionally-directed medical research program. Dr. Martin also holds patents on the microtentacle discoveries made by his group, and is looking to partner with biopharmaceutical companies for the development of new imaging technologies and drug treatments to reduce breast cancer metastasis.
Dr. Danny R Welch
Founding Director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s (KUMC) Department of Cancer Biology
Director of the NFCR’s (National Foundation for Cancer Research) Metastasis Research Center
Professor and Chair, Adjunct faculty of Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology (KUMC)
Dr. Welch currently serves on the board of directors for the Cancer Biology Training Consortium and on the Extramural Scientific Advisory Board for the American Cancer Society. He is past president of the Metastasis Research Society, past chair of the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Cancer Genetics Study Section and has been actively involved with the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).
The focus of Dr. Welch’s research is on the science of tumor progression and the regulation of cancer metastasis. His lab has developed and characterized many widely used metastasis models, discovering six of the 30 known metastasis suppressors. Dr. Welch was the recipient of the first METAvivor Research Grant.