Deborah F. Kelly


Office phone: 540-526-2031

Office location: R-2007

Email address:

Visit website

Deborah F. Kelly, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Science, Virginia Tech

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Deborah Kelly's research focuses on developing innovative methodologies to study complex biological machinery. In particular, Kelly is interested in using a combination of structural and functional tools to understand how signaling pathways influence human development and disease. Cryo-Electron Microscopy (EM) is an ideal technique to visualize macromolecular assemblies, such as ribosomes, at sub-nanometer resolution. Still, a major obstacle in the field is that many active cellular complexes are too labile or in too low abundance for conventional purification schemes. To address this issue, Kelly and her research team developed the monolayer purification method and the functionalized Affinity Grid, that make it possible to rapidly purify complexes from crude cell lysates directly onto an EM Grid. These novel techniques provide a powerful approach for gathering structural information and allow researchers to view biological processes in a completely new fashion. The scientists are now applying this technology to examine signaling complexes that regulate stem cell development in both normal and cancerous tissues. The knowledge gained from this line of research will shed light on the early events of stem cell commitment and cancer formation.

For a more complete listing of Deborah Kelly's publications, visit PubMed.

Education and Training

  • Florida State University: Ph.D. , Molecular Biophysics
  • Old Dominion University: M.S. , Chemistry
  • Old Dominion University: B.S. , Biochemistry

Previous Positions

  • Harvard Medical School
    Postdoctoral Fellow

Awards and Honors

  • Young Investigator Award, The Concern Foundation, 2014
  • Beckman Young Investigator Finalist, 2014
  • Elected member, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2013
  • Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, National Science Foundation, Florida State University, 1999-2003
  • John Van Norman Graduate Research Award, Old Dominion University, 1996

More Awards >>