Deborah Kelly recently delivered Sydney S. Negus Memorial Lecture

Deborah F. Kelly, Ph.D.

Deborah F. Kelly, Ph.D.

Deborah Kelly, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, recently gave the Sydney S. Negus Memorial Lecture at the 91st Annual Meeting of the Virginia Academy of Science. The conference took place May 22–24, 2013, on the Virginia Tech campus.

The Virginia Academy of Science is the fifth largest state, region, or city academy of science in the United States. Founded in 1923, it promotes civic, academic, agricultural, industrial, and commercial welfare of the people of Virginia. Kelly’s lecture, titled “New Frontiers in Molecular Imaging,” covered the advances her laboratory has made in the imaging of biological structures in a liquid environment using transmission electron microscopy.

Kelly completed her undergraduate and master’s training in biochemistry and chemistry at Old Dominion University before pursuing her graduate degree in molecular biophysics at Florida State University under the mentorship of Kenneth A. Taylor, a pioneer in the field of cryo-electron microscopy. While working with Taylor, she developed an in vitro reconstitution system to study the structural biology of how cell adhesion proteins interact at focal adhesion sites to control cell migratory properties. Her work in two-dimensional crystallography of macromolecular assemblies led her to join the laboratory of Thomas Walz for her postdoctoral training in the area of high-resolution cryo-EM in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. There Kelly developed novel approaches to examine multicomponent protein assemblies that regulate gene expression using high-resolution imaging and began to focus on signal transduction pathways.

Kelly's combined work in technology development and biological pathways resulted in several high-impact publications and led her to join the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and establish her own research team and electron microscopy facility to study the three-dimensional architectures of macromolecules and whole cells.