Contel, Maria

Professor,Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, Brooklyn College (CUNY)

Academic Appointments:

Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York
Faculty, Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry PhD Programs, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York


Ph.D. (Chemistry) Public University of Navarra, Spain
M.S. (Inorganic Chemistry), University of Zaragoza, Spain

Research Focus:

Our research program focuses on the synthesis and characterization of transition-metal complexes and their applications as anticancer and antimicrobial agents. The long-term goal of our research is the development of novel metal-based chemo- and targeted therapeutics for different diseases that can overcome some of the drawbacks associated with the use of existing drugs. We explore the potential of mono- and hetero-metallic drugs against different cancers, with a focus on renal, ovarian, and breast cancer. We are particularly interested in the study of the mode of action of selected agents to optimize their design, enhancing their potency and pharmacological profile. We develop strategies based on nanotechnology (such as biologics and biodegradable nanomaterials) to improve the delivery of some of these compounds, so they can reach and accumulate in the tumors in a targeted fashion.

Selected Publications (Recent)

  1. ‘Development of immunoliposomes containing cytotoxic gold payloads against HER2-positive breast cancers’. A. Ahad, F. Aftab, A. Michel, J.S. Lewis, and M. Contel.* RSC Med. Chem. 2024, Advance Article.
  2. ‘Shifting the Antibody–Drug Conjugate Paradigm: A Trastuzumab-Gold-Based Conjugate Demonstrates High Efficacy against Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2-Positive Breast Cancer Mouse Model’.  A. Ahad, H.K. Saeed, V. del Solar, J.E. López-Hernández, A. Michel, J. Mathew, J.S. Lewis,* and M. Contel.ACS Pharmacol. Trans. Sci. 2023, 6, 12, 1972.
  3. ‘Platinum(IV)–Gold(I) Agents with Promising Anticancer Activity: Selected Studies in 2D and 3D Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Models’.  J.E. López-Hernández, N. Nayeem, J.P. Cerón-Carrasco, A. Ahad, A. Hafeez, I.E. León, and M. Contel.* Chem. A Eur. J. 2023, e202302045.
  4. ‘Encapsulation of Gold-Based Anticancer Agents in Protease-Degradable Peptide Nanofilaments Enhances Their Potency’. Marciano, V. del Solar, N. Nayeem, D. Dave, J. Son, M. Contel,* and R.V. Ulijn.* J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2023, 145, 1, 234–246.
  5. ‘Intracellular Localization Studies of the Luminescent Analogue of an Anticancer Ruthenium Iminophosphorane with High Efficacy in a Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Mouse Model’. K. Miachin, V. del Solar, E. El Khoury, N. Nayeem, A. Khrystenko, P. Appelt, M.C. Neary, D. Buccella,* and M. Contel.* Inorg, Chem. 202160, 19152.


3. ‘Antibody Drug Conjugates Based on Gold Compounds’. US Patent 11,141,490 (10/12/2021)

2. ‘Arene Ruthenium (II) Derivatives Containing Iminophosphorane Ligands and their Use in Cancer Therapy’. US Patent 9,555,049 B2 (01/31/2017).

1. ‘Titanocene Gold Derivatives Comprising Thiolato Ligands’. US Patent 9,315,531 (04/19/2016).

Grants over the last 5 years



Agency: USA National Institutes of Health/National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIH/NIGMS)
Grant number: 1R16GM149396-01
Period: 08/01/2023-05/31/2027
Role: Principal Investigator
Title:  Platinum-gold compounds as potential chemo- and targeted agents for ovarian cancer


Agency: USA National Institutes of Health/National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIH/NIGMS)
Grant number: 2SC1GM127278
Period: 06/01/2018-07/31/2023
Role: Principal Investigator
Title:  Biodegradable nanocarriers and antibodies as targeting delivery vehicles for cancer metallodrugs



Agency: American Cancer Society (Diversity in Cancer Research Institutional Development Grant Program)
Grant number: DICRIDG-22-1012253-01
Period: 01/01/2023-12/31/2026
Role: Principal Investigator
Title:  Supporting Cancer Research at Brooklyn College Cancer Center, a Highly Diverse Institution

Agency: American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Internship IRG Supplement grant.
Grant number: DICR INTR-23-1157698-01-DICR INTR DICRIDG-22-1012253-01
Period: 01/06/2024-12/31/2026
Role: Principal Investigator
Title:  BCCC-CURE Summer Internships for Undergraduate Underrepresented Students

Agency: Gray Foundation
Period: 01/01/2023-12/31/2024
Role: Co-Principal Investigator (co-PI Dr. Jennifer Basil)
Title:  Brooklyn College Cancer Center Operations Support Grant