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Researcher Profile

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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


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.


Liang, Y, Dearnaley, WJ, Alden, NA, Solares, MJ, Gilmore, BL, Pridham, KJ, Varano, C, Sheng, Z, Alli, E & Kelly, D 2019, 'Correcting errors in the BRCA1 warning system', DNA Repair, vol. 73, pp. 120-128.
Hauser, M, Dearnaley, WJ, Varano, AC, Casasanta, M, McDonald, SM & Kelly, DF 2019, 'Cryo-EM Reveals Architectural Diversity in Active Rotavirus Particles', Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal, vol. 17, pp. 1178-1183.
Alden, NA, Varano, AC, Dearnaley, WJ, Solares, MJ, Luqiu, WY, Liang, Y, Sheng, Z, McDonald, SM, Damiano, J, McConnell, J, Dukes, MJ & Kelly, DF 2019, 'Cryo-EM-On-a-Chip: Custom-Designed Substrates for the 3D Analysis of Macromolecules', Small, vol. 15, no. 21, 1900918.
Dearnaley, WJ, Schleupner, B, Varano, AC, Alden, NA, Gonzalez, F, Casasanta, MA, Scharf, BE, Dukes, MJ & Kelly, DF 2019, 'Liquid-Cell Electron Tomography of Biological Systems', Nano letters, vol. 19, no. 10, pp. 6734-6741.