Irene Chiolo, PhD

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Gerontology


  • MS, Molecular Biology, University of Milan
  • PhD, Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of Milan
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab / UC Berkeley, 2007-2012

Research Interests

  • DNA repair
  • heterochromatin
  • epigenetics
  • homologous recombination
  • genome stability
  • cancer
  • aging


Research in Professor Chiolo’s laboratory focuses on the mechanisms of DNA repair in heterochromatin. Heterochromatin is a large nuclear domain mostly composed of repetitive sequences, which are prone to generating chromosome rearrangements during double-strand break (DSB) repair. And yet, DNA repair processes in heterochromatin are still mostly unknown. Our studies have revealed surprising dynamics triggered by DSBs in heterochromatin: the entire domain expands and repair sites display a dramatic relocalization to the nuclear periphery, while repair progression is tightly regulated in space and time. This pathway is essential for accurate repair in heterochromatin, because its deregulation results in aberrant recombination and genome instability. Which molecular mechanisms control heterochromatin dynamics and how they influence repair are still unclear. Using the Drosophila system, currently the best working model for heterochromatin repair studies, research in my lab aims to identify the mechanisms involved, and to address how they protect genome integrity at cellular and organismal levels. This research will ultimately contribute to our understanding of human diseases associated with genome instability, including cancer, aging, and developmental defects.

Email: chiolo@usc.edu

Office Location: RRI 203

Office Phone: (213) 821-3163