Peter Villalta, PhD

Director, Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource
Peter Villalta

Masonic Cancer Center
2231 6th St SE
2-143 CCRB
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

My role at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, is two-fold. Approximately 40% of my effort is dedicated to managing the mass spectrometry laboratory of the Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource, and supporting the research of its users through collaborative efforts to advance their individual projects. The rest of my effort is dedicated to providing the NCI-funded members of Masonic Cancer Center’s Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program with advanced analytical tools to further their research programs utilizing the powerful instrumentation and data analysis software of the laboratory. This effort is funded by an NCI R50 Research Specialist Award attained in 2016.

My major research interest is the development of comprehensive methodologies for the assessment of DNA damage and trace level detection of exogenous substances in human samples using advanced mass spectrometry. I work in collaboration with several members of the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, including faculty of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry. We use the advanced instrumentation, software, and data processing expertise available in the Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource. Sophisticated mass spectrometric tools are utilized including high resolution/accurate mass MSn data acquisition and nanoflow UPLC/nanospray ionization to develop a variety of data dependent MSn and data independent MS/MS2 methodologies.


Mass Spectrometry, Analytical Biochemistry, Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention, DNA Modification

Awards & Recognition

NCI R50 Research Specialist Award, 2016


PhD in Physical Chemistry, University of Minnesota

B.S. in Chemistry, St. John's University

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Research Summary/Interests


Jiang, Y., Stornetta, A., Villalta, P.W., Wilson, M.R., Boudreau, P.D., Zha, L., Balbo, S., and Balskus, E.P. (2019) Reactivity of an unusual amidase may explain colibactin’s DNA cross-linking activity. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 141(29), 11489-11496. PMID:31251062

2. Ma, B., Villalta, P.W., Hochalter, J.B., Stepanov, I., and Hecht, S. (2019) Methyl DNA phosphate adduct formation in lung tumor tissue and adjacent normal tissue of lung cancer patients. Carcinogenesis, 1-8. PMID:30873516

3. Wilson, M.R, Jiang, Y., Villalta, P.W., Stornetta, A., Boudreau, P.D., Carra, A., Brennan, C.A., Chun, E., Ngo, L., Samson, L.D., Engelward, B.P., Garrett, W.S., Balbo, S., and Balskus, E.P. (2019) The Human Gut Bacterial Genotoxin Colibactin Alkylated DNA. Science, 363(6428), PMID: 30765538

4. Yang, J., Balbo, S., Villalta, P.W., and Hecht, S.S. (2019) Analysis of Acrolein-Derived 1,N2-propanodeoxyguanosine adducts in human lung DNA from smokers and nonsmokers. Chem. Res. Toxicol., 32(2), 318-325, PMID:30644728