Debra Tonetti, PhD


College of Pharmacy

Biopharmaceutical Sciences

Translational Oncology Program

Associate Member

Phone: 312-413-1169


I am the Interim Head of the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and a cancer biologist trained in the laboratory of Dr. V.C. Jordan at Northwestern University with 23 years of experience focused on estrogen signaling pathways in breast cancer; specifically, on treatment and etiology. My laboratory was the first to identify PKC as a biomarker for endocrine resistance and developed several preclinical xenograft models that indicate PKC is a predictive biomarker for estradiol-induced tumor regression.In collaboration with Dr. Greg Thatcher, my lab developed Selective Estrogen Mimics (SEMs) as a safer alternative to estradiol with no uterine proliferation. Based on results with SEMs in preclinical xenograft models, the Tonetti/Thatcher team formed TTC Oncology, LLC that was fully funded to perform IND enabling studies resulting in a Phase I Clinical trial to begin in 2017. Also in collaboration with Dr. Thatcher, we developed a novel orally bioavailable Selective Estrogen Receptor Downregulator (SERD) to treat breast cancer.In addition, my lab is leading the establishment of breast cancer patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) at UIC to examine the efficacy of SEMs, SERDs and other cancer therapies. I have successfully established a panel of lung cancer PDXs to investigate the role of the estrogen receptor in progression of lung cancer.

Education & Training


Clinical Research Involvement

Pubmed Search