Engineering professor named chair of NIH study section

Jamie Oberdick
November 16, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Deborah Kelly, Penn State Lloyd & Dottie Foehr Huck Chair in Molecular Biophysics, director of the Penn State Center for Structural Oncology (CSO) and professor of biomedical engineering, has accepted an appointment as chair of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Macromolecular Structure and Function B (MSFB) Study Section, directed by the Center for Scientific Review.

Kelly will oversee a group that reviews grant applications involving a broad range of biochemical, biophysical and computational modeling approaches to address basic structure-function relationships in a variety of biological systems. The emphasis of the MSFB Study Section Center is on revealing structural characteristics and dynamics of individual proteins and nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA and how those properties affect the function of molecules. Based on their review, the MSFB makes recommendations on the applications to the relevant NIH national advisory council or board.

“Serving as a standing member of an NIH review panel is a huge responsibility, as well as a huge honor,” Kelly said. “I’m extremely delighted to serve as chairperson for the two-year term, from July 2020 until June 2022. This leadership opportunity is one of my most important duties as a NIH-funded researcher.”

Researchers selected for the MSFB Study Section have significant research accomplishments, publications in top scientific journals and other recognitions in their field. 

“Expanding knowledge of rigorous experiments outside of one’s own discipline is a great way to broaden your scientific vision,” Kelly said. “Serving on an NIH review panel with highly regarded thought-leaders sharpens your skills as a reviewer and as a researcher. Our panel contains a blend of experts, who are full of forward-thinking ideas and approaches that create valuable experiences for all who serve.”

Kelly focuses her research in the field of molecular imaging, and she has developed techniques to view cancer differently. Kelly developed the field of structural oncology while working at Virginia Tech. Structural oncology unravels the underpinnings of cancer-causing processes by studying proteins at the atomic scale. By understanding how mutated proteins in cancerous cells differ from the same proteins in healthy cells, Kelly and her team can elucidate how mutation mechanisms cause cellular growth to go awry and give rise to disease. 

“Our work in the CSO focuses on combating the molecular culprits that fuel human cancer while revealing the hidden enemies that cells use to outsmart modern medicine,” Kelly said.


(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 16, 2020