The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Debbie Kelly, assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and of biological sciences in the College of Science, for research that focuses on developing innovative approaches to study complex biological machinery.
Her work using cryo-electron microscopy and computational modeling aims to unravel how glial cells in the brain can become cancerous. Kelly's molecular imaging system allows her to visualize protein receptors found on the surfaces of cells and build atomic models of how they interact. She is currently using this technology to investigate how adhesive proteins that coat cancer cells enable them to spread throughout the body.
Kelly's work could also have important implications that contribute to our fundamental understanding of how cardiac tissue develops under normal and pathological conditions.
She developed a method to capture and quickly purify multi-component protein complexes that are susceptible to degradation. This work made it possible to conduct detailed biochemical analysis on the functional structure of the Notch receptor, which has been linked to neurovascular abnormalities, cancer, and many congenital syndromes. Now scientists are determining which of the components in the Notch signaling pathway can serve as therapeutic targets in the treatment of diseases.
Kelly studies connections on a cellular level
Structural biologist from Harvard joins Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute