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Deb Kelly

Deb Kelly

Professor and Huck Chair in Molecular Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering
Scientific Program:Next-Generation Therapies

Research Interests

Dr. Deb Kelly's research focuses on innovative approaches to study biological systems, ranging from human viruses to cancer. Central to her work is high-resolution imaging, primarily cryo-Electron Microscopy (EM). Invasive breast cancer threatens the lives of women everywhere and there is no precise treatment for the disease. Her team has developed a tunable microchip toolkit to study mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility protein, BRCA1. Using this new tools, the Kelly lab expects to determine strategic insights for the molecular detection and prevention of BRCA1-related cancers. Her team is on the cutting edge of the burgeoning new field they call structural oncology.

  • Electron Microscopy
  • Proteins
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Neoplasms
  • Single Molecule Imaging
  • Lipids
  • Glioblastoma
  • Electrons
  • Rotavirus
  • Mutation
  • Viruses
  • Technology

Recent Publications


Solares, MJ, Dearnaley, WJ & Kelly, DF 2024, 'Elucidating structural variability in p53 conformers using combinatorial refinement strategies and molecular dynamics', Cancer Biology and Therapy, vol. 25, no. 1, 2290732.


Jonaid, GM, Dearnaley, WJ, Berry, S, Gray, J, Spilman, M, Dukes, MJ & Kelly, DF 2023, 'Comparative Analysis of Cryo-electron Microscopy and Liquid-electron Microscopy Image Processing Workflows', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1033.
Kelly, DF, Jonaid, GM, Kaylor, L, Solares, MJ, Berry, S, DiCecco, LA, Dearnaley, W & Casasanta, M 2023, 'Delineating Conformational Variability in Small Protein Structures Using Combinatorial Refinement Strategies', Micromachines, vol. 14, no. 10, 1869.
Berry, S, DiCecco, LA, Gray, J, Boylan, J, Solares, M & Kelly, DF 2023, 'Diving into COVID-19: Visualizing SARS-CoV-2 Patient Proteins using Liquid-Electron Microscopy', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 662-664.
DiCecco, LA, Gao, R, Gray, JL, Kelly, DF, Sone, ED & Grandfield, K 2023, 'Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy Imaging of Organic-inorganic Interfaces: Exploring Hydrated Collagen Mineralization Processes', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1236-1238.
DiCecco, LA, Gao, R, Gray, JL, Kelly, DF, Sone, ED & Grandfield, K 2023, 'Liquid Transmission Electron Microscopy for Probing Collagen Biomineralization', Nano letters, vol. 23, no. 21, pp. 9760-9768.
Solares, MJ, Jonaid, GM & Kelly, DF 2023, 'Resolving p53 to Create Clinically-Relevant Mutation Models', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1087-1090.
Anderson, ML, Sullivan, OM, Nichols, SL, Kaylor, L, Kelly, DF & McDonald Esstman, S 2023, 'Rotavirus core shell protein sites that regulate intra-particle polymerase activity', Journal of virology, vol. 97, no. 10.
Casasanta, MA, Jonaid, GM, Kaylor, L, Luqiu, WY, Dicecco, LA, Solares, MJ, Berry, S, Dearnaley, WJ & Kelly, DF 2023, 'Structural Insights of the SARS-CoV-2 Nucleocapsid Protein: Implications for the Inner-workings of Rapid Antigen Tests', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 649-657.


Dicecco, LA, Berry, S, Jonaid, GM, Solares, MJ, Kaylor, L, Gray, JL, Bator, C, Dearnaley, WJ, Spilman, M, Dressel-Dukes, MJ, Grandfield, K, McDonald Esstman, SM & Kelly, DF 2022, 'Advancing High-Resolution Imaging of Virus Assemblies in Liquid and Ice', Journal of Visualized Experiments, vol. 2022, no. 185, e63856.
Jonaid, GM, Casasanta, MA, Dearnaley, WJ, Berry, S, Kaylor, L, Dressel-Dukes, MJ, Spilman, MS, Gray, JL & Kelly, DF 2022, 'Automated Tools to Advance High-Resolution Imaging in Liquid', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 361-370.
Solares, MJ & Kelly, DF 2022, 'Complete Models of p53 Better Inform the Impact of Hotspot Mutations', International journal of molecular sciences, vol. 23, no. 23, 15267.
Pridham, KJ, Shah, F, Hutchings, KR, Sheng, KL, Guo, S, Liu, M, Kanabur, P, Lamouille, S, Lewis, G, Morales, M, Jourdan, J, Grek, CL, Ghatnekar, GG, Varghese, R, Kelly, DF, Gourdie, RG & Sheng, Z 2022, 'Connexin 43 confers chemoresistance through activating PI3K', Oncogenesis, vol. 11, no. 1, 2.
Solares, MJ, Jonaid, GM, Luqiu, WY, Berry, S, Khadela, J, Liang, Y, Evans, MC, Pridham, KJ, Dearnaley, WJ, Sheng, Z & Kelly, DF 2022, 'High-Resolution Imaging of Human Cancer Proteins Using Microprocessor Materials', ChemBioChem, vol. 23, no. 17, e202200310.
Kelly, DF, DiCecco, LA, Jonaid, GM, Dearnaley, WJ, Spilman, MS, Gray, JL & Dressel-Dukes, MJ 2022, 'Liquid-EM goes viral – visualizing structure and dynamics', Current Opinion in Structural Biology, vol. 75, 102426.


Jonaid, GM, Dearnaley, WJ, Casasanta, MA, Kaylor, L, Berry, S, Dukes, MJ, Spilman, MS, Gray, JL & Kelly, DF 2021, 'High-Resolution Imaging of Human Viruses in Liquid Droplets', Advanced Materials, vol. 33, no. 37, 2103221.
Casasanta, MA, Jonaid, GM, Kaylor, L, Luqiu, WY, Solares, MJ, Schroen, ML, Dearnaley, WJ, Wilson, J, Dukes, MJ & Kelly, DF 2021, 'Microchip-based structure determination of low-molecular weight proteins using cryo-electron microscopy', Nanoscale, vol. 13, no. 15, pp. 7285-7293.


Dukes, M, Kelly, D & Varano, C 2020, 'Liquid cell TEM imaging techniques and optimization for biological samples', Microscopy and Microanalysis.
Solares, MJ, Jonaid, GM, Luqiu, WY, Liang, Y, Evans, MC, Dearnaley, WJ, Sheng, Z & Kelly, DF 2020, 'Microchip-Based Structure Determination of Disease-Relevant p53', Analytical Chemistry, vol. 92, no. 23, pp. 15558-15564.