Molecular Biology Program

The John Petrini Lab


Pictured: John Petrini
John Petrini, PhD
Chair, Molecular Biology Program, SKI; Director, The Functional Genomics Initiative; Paul A. Marks Chair in Molecular Cell Biology


Work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular transactions that govern chromosome stability and replication. The association of cancer predisposition and other pathology with mutations that affect chromosomal metabolism forms the basis of our interest in this process. In this regard, we focus on a conserved multiprotein complex that includes Mre11, Rad50, and Nbs1 in mammals or Xrs2 in the budding yeast S. cerevisiae. Our laboratory has isolated and characterized the human Mre11 complex, hMre11, hRad50, and Nbs1. We proved that an analogue of the S. cerevisiae Mre11 complex exists in human cells, and subsequently established definitive evidence that the yeast and human complexes mediate double-strand break repair in S. cerevisiae and mammalian cells, respectively. Our data suggest that in human cells, the complex acts as a sensor of DNA damage that participates in the activation of cell cycle checkpoints following g-irradiation.

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Publications Highlights

Wardlaw, C., Petrini, J.H., (2023) A Link Between Innate Immune Signaling and DNA Replication. Bioessays. PMC10473822.

Belhadj, S., Khurram, A., Bandlamudi. C., Ravichandran, V., Steinsnyder, Z., Wildman, T., Catchings, A., Kemel, Y., Mukherjee, S., Arora, K., Mehine, M., Dandiker, S., Izhar, A.,   Petrini, J.H., Domchek, S., Nathanson, K., Brower, J., Couch, F., Stadler, Z., Robson, M., Walsh, W., Vijai, J., Berger, M., Topka, S., Offit, K., (2023) NBN pathogenic germline variants are associated with pan-cancer susceptibility and in vitro DNA damage response defects. Clin. Cancer Res. 17;29 (2):422-431. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-1703. PMC9843434

Wardlaw, C., Petrini, J.H., (2022) ISG15 Conjugation to Proteins on Nascent DNA Mitigates DNA Replication Stress. 10;13(1):5971. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-33535-y. Nat Commun. PMC9550767

Ghisays, F., Garzia,A., Wang, H., Canasto-Chibuque, C., Hohl, M., Savage. S.A., Tuschl T., Petrini, J.H. (2021) RTEL1 Influences the Abundance and Localization of TERRA RNA. Nat. Commun. PMC8140157

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Pictured: John Petrini

John Petrini, PhD

Chair, Molecular Biology Program, SKI; Director, The Functional Genomics Initiative; Paul A. Marks Chair in Molecular Cell Biology


  • Molecular biologist John Petrini investigates the repair of chromosomal breaks and the activation of the DNA-damage-induced cell-cycle checkpoints.
  • PhD, University of Michigan Medical School
[email protected]
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Pictured: John Petrini
John Petrini

Lab Head

Tarsha Barton
Tarsha Barton

Lead Administrative Assistant & Internal Competition Coordinator (FGI)

Marcel Hohl, Research Fellow
Marcel Hohl

Senior Research Scientist

Jun Hyun Kim

Senior Research Scientist

Claudia Canasto, Sr. Research Technician & Lab Manager
Claudia Canasto

Research Tech/Lab Manager

Hexiao Wang
Hexiao Wang

Graduate Student

Chris Wardlaw, PhD
Chris Wardlaw

Research Associate

Lab Affiliations

Open Positions

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Career Opportunity

The work in our lab is focused on the DNA damage response (DDR), a network of functions comprising DNA damage signaling, DNA repair, and DNA damage dependent cell cycle regulation. With an overarching interest in chromosome biology, the laboratory employs yeast and mice to undertake genetic, molecular biological, and biochemical analyses of these pathways with a goal of understanding the DDR’s role in tissue homeostasis, development, and tumor suppression. Experience in these research areas is preferred, as are candidates interested in multi-disciplinary approaches

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Doctors and faculty members often work with pharmaceutical, device, biotechnology, and life sciences companies, and other organizations outside of MSK, to find safe and effective cancer treatments, to improve patient care, and to educate the health care community.

MSK requires doctors and faculty members to report (“disclose”) the relationships and financial interests they have with external entities. As a commitment to transparency with our community, we make that information available to the public.

John Petrini discloses the following relationships and financial interests:

  • Atropos Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Novus Biologicals
    Professional Services and Activities
  • Zentalis Pharmaceuticals
    Professional Services and Activities (Uncompensated)

The information published here is for a specific annual disclosure period. There may be differences between information on this and other public sites as a result of different reporting periods and/or the various ways relationships and financial interests are categorized by organizations that publish such data.

This page and data include information for a specific MSK annual disclosure period (January 1, 2022 through disclosure submission in spring 2023). This data reflects interests that may or may not still exist. This data is updated annually.

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