Each month, the Office of Sponsored Programs will spotlight a different PI and their research. If you are interested in being featured in our next spotlight, please email Please be sure to provide us with an abstract (3-5 paragraphs) about your research, explanation of your recent project, the amount your project (s) were funded for, special events that you are hosting or coordinating, obstacles or challenges you faced during the application process, if applicable, and a photo of yourself.   

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From L to R: Ying Yin Lu, Maggie Zheng,  William Aguillar, Owen Zacarias, Shu-Yuan Cheng, Elise Champeil, Hadrien.

Elise Champeil, PhD
Professor, Department of Science
John Jay College of  Criminal Justice

Dr. Elise Champeil is an Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry in the Science Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her research interests include DNA-mitomycins adducts formation; synthesis and NMR characterization; detection of drugs of abuse by NMR spectroscopy; and molecular modeling. Currently, Dr. Champeil’s research focuses on the synthesis of DNA adducts of Mitomycin C (MC, an anticancer agent) and Decarbamoylmitomycin C (DMC). Her goal is to understand how the differences in DNA modifications caused by the two drugs provoke different cell deaths. This could help design drugs tailored to specific cancer cells and increase the efficiency of chemotherapeutics. Specifically, DMC binds to DNA in a similar fashion as MC, but the local structure of the drug-DNA bond is slightly different and occurs in an opposite DNA sequence context.  In addition, DMC is able to provoke a p53 independent cell death. Understanding why the two drugs behave so differently is crucial to design chemotherapeutics which are able to kill cells lacking a functioning p53; which is the case in 50% of all cancers. Dr. Champeil received a SCORE grant from the National Institutes of Health totaling $480,161 over 4 years (2019-2023) to support this research. Her laboratory hosts several John Jay undergraduate students and, together, and in collaboration with Dr. Shu Yuan (Demi) Cheng, they have published eight articles relevant to the funded project over the past three years, including:

  1. Aguilar, W., Paz, M. M., Vargas, A., Zheng, M. , Cheng, S.Y., & Champeil, E. (2018). Interdependent sequence-selectivity and diastereoselectivity in the alkylation of DNA by decarbamoylmitomycin C.  Chemistry a European Journal, 24 (50), 13278-13289.
  2. Zacarias, O. , Aguilar, W. , Paz, M. M., Tsukanov, S. , Zheng, M., Cheng, S.Y., Pradhan, P., Champeil, E.  (2018). Isolation and rationale for the formation of isomeric decarbamoylmitomycin C-N6-deoxyadenosine adducts in DNA. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 31 (8), 762-771.
  3. Cheng, S. Y. , Vargas, A., Lee, J. -Y. , Clement, C. C., & Champeil, E. (2018). Involvement of Akt in mitomycin C and its analog triggered cytotoxicity in MCF-7 and K562 cancer cells. Chemical Biology and Drug Design, 92 (6), 2022-2034.
  4. Aguilar, W., Paz, M. M., Vargas, A.Δ, Clement, C. C., Cheng, S.Y., &  Champeil, E. (2018). Sequence-dependent diastereospecific and diastereodivergent crosslinking of DNA by decarbamoylmitomycin C” Chemistry a European Journal, 24 (23), 6030-6035.
  5. Napolitano, T. , Cheng, S.Y., Nielsen, B. , Choi, C. , Aguilar, W. , Paz, M.M., Sapse, A.M., & Champeil, E. (2017). Acetone promoted 1,4-migration of an alkoxycarbonyl group on a syn-1,2-diamine. Tetrahedron Letters, 58 (7), 597-601.
  6. Cheng, S. Y., Seo, J., Huang, B.T., Napolitano, T., & Champeil, E. (2016). Mitomycin C and decarbamoyl mitomycin C induce p53-independent p21WAF1/CIP1 activation. International Journal of Oncology, 49 (5), 1815-1824.
  7. Bose, A., Surugihalli, C., Pande, P., Champeil, E., & Basu A. K. (2016). Comparative error-free and error-prone translesion synthesis of the N2 -2'-deoxyguanosine adducts formed by mitomycin C and its metabolite, 2,7-diaminomitosene, in human cells. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 29 (5), 933-939.
  8. Champeil, E., Cheng, S. Y., Huang, B.T., Concheiro-Guisan, M., Martinez, T., Paz, M.M., & Sapse, A.M. (2016). Synthesis of Mitomycin C and Decarbamoylmitomycin C N2 deoxyguanosine-adducts. Bioorganic Chemistry, 65, 90-99.

Dr. Champeil is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the New York Academy of Science. She was the recipient of the AACR MSI faculty scholar in cancer research award in 2015. In 2018, she was also awarded the Senior Scholar Release award by John Jay College. She received the CUNY Summer Advanced Grant writing Award ($ 5,000) in 2017 and was featured in the Research Foundation of CUNY’s 2017 annual report for her NIH research award. In 2019, she received her Habilitation à diriger des recherche in Montpellier, France.