Dr Mairi Kilkenny

Director of Studies , Tutor
I study human DNA replication at the molecular level. Using state-of-the-art structural, biophysical and single molecule techniques, I am trying to understand how cells make a faithful copy of their genetic material prior to cell division. Understanding the mechanism and regulation of DNA replication also has applications in the design of novel anti-cancer therapies.
Director of Studies in Biochemistry; Tutor
Senior Research Associate, Department of Biochemistry

A classic case of Chemist-turned-Biochemist, I carried out my undergraduate and Masters (Chemistry) degrees at the University of Cape Town, before moving to Cambridge for my PhD (Biochemistry) in 2001. In 2005 I embarked on my research career at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, before moving back to Cambridge in 2010 to take up a position as Senior Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry. In addition to my research, I supervise undergraduate, Masters and PhD students, and I love any kind of STEM outreach activity. I participate in the annual Cambridge Science Festival, as well as various school-based Science Fun Days. 

  • Holzer S, Yan J, Kilkenny ML, Bell SD, Pellegrini L, Primer synthesis by a eukaryotic-like archaeal primase is independent of its Fe-S cluster, Nature Communications, 2017, 8(1), 1718.
  • Kilkenny ML, Simon AC, Mainwaring J, Wirthenson D, Holzer S, Pellegrini L, The human CTF4-orthologue AND-1 interacts with the DNA polymerase α/primase via its unique C-terminal HMG box, Open Biology, 2017, 7(11), 170217.
  • Kolinjivadi AM, Sannino V, De Antoni A, Zadorozhny K, Kilkenny ML, Techer H, Baldi G, Shen R, Ciccia A, Pellegrini L, Krejci L, Costanzo V, Smarcal1-Mediated Fork Reversal Triggers Mre11-Dependent Degradation of Nascent DNA in the Absence of Brca2 and Stable Rad51 Nucleofilaments, Molecular Cell, 2017, 67, 1-15.
  • Holzer S, Degliesposti G, Kilkenny ML, Maslen SL, Matak-Vinkovíc D, Skehel M, Pellegrini L, Crystal structure of the N-terminal domain of human Timeless and its interaction with Tipin, Nucleic Acids Research, 2017, 45(9), 5555-5563.
  • Villa F, Simon AC, Ortiz Bazan MA, Kilkenny ML, Wirthensohn D, Wightman M, Matak-Vinkovíc D, Pellegrini L, Labib K, Ctf4 Is a Hub in the Eukaryotic Replisome that Links Multiple CIP-Box Proteins to the CMG Helicase, Molecular Cell, 2016, 63, 1-12.
  • Anjum RS, Bray SM, Blackwood JK, Kilkenny ML, Coelho MA, Foster BM, Li S, Howard JA2, Pellegrini L, Albers SV, Deery MJ, Robinson NP,  Involvement of a eukaryotic-like ubiquitin-related modifier in the proteasome pathway of the archaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, Nature Communications, 2015, 6: 8163.
  • Simon AC, Zhou JC, Perera RL, van Deursen F, Evrin C, Ivanova ME, Kilkenny ML, Renault L, Kjaer S, Matak-Vinković D, Labib K, Costa A, Pellegrini L, A Ctf4 trimer couples the CMG helicase to DNA polymerase α in the eukaryotic replisome, Nature, 2014, 510 (7504), 293-7.
Commended as an Undergraduate Supervisor (Science and Technology) in the 2018 CUSU Student-led Teaching Awards