​B.A. Chemistry, Hamilton College, Clinton NY​Ph.D. Oncological Sciences, University of Utah, 2002
Kimberly kelly, PhD

"We find biomarkers and molecularly targeted probes, both as imaging agents for the detection of cancer, and as vehicles for targeted drug delivery."

Kimberly A. Kelly, Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Kimberly Kelly develops phage-based nanoparticle techniques for diagnostic imaging, drug target identification, and drug delivery in the setting of pancreatic cancer.  Dr. Kelly received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Hamilton College in upstate NY, and her PhD from the University of Utah under the guidance of Dr. David Jones, PhD. Her thesis was using genomics and proteomics-based approaches to develop diagnostic reagents for colon cancer. After obtaining her PhD, Dr. Kelly took a postdoctoral fellowship position at the Center for Molecular Imaging Research at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), directed by Ralph Weissleder, under the guidance of Jennifer Allport Anderson. Under Dr. Allport Anderson’s guidance, Kim developed a VCAM-1 targeted imaging agent and was able to monitor VCAM-1 expression in mouse models of atherosclerosis. Further, she described a new interaction between VCAM-1 and SPARC that facilitates efficient leukocyte trafficking. In 2004, she was promoted to instructor of Radiology, and in 2008 to Assistant Professor of Radiology at MGH. In September of 2008, Dr. Kelly joined the Biomedical Engineering faculty at the University of Virginia as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Kelly is a member of SNM, the American Pancreatic Association, and the AACR. She was named a William Guy Forbeck Scholar in 2005 and awarded an AACR-Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Career Development award in 2007.

Dr. Kelly’s research interests include the identification of biomarkers and development of molecularly targeted probes, both as imaging agents for the detection of various cancer disease processes and as vehicles for targeted drug delivery. For example, through phage display screening, Dr. Kelly identified and validated plectin-1 as a novel biomarker for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a disease with less than a five percent 5-year survival rate. Further, she has developed a clinically-relevant SPECT based imaging agent that will hopefully allow the detection of both primary and metastatic pancreatic cancer. She has over 30 peer-reviewed and invited publications and has served as a reviewer for numerous journals.


  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows 2016

Research Interests

  • Targeted Diagnostic Imaging
  • Targeted Drug and Gene Delivery
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • The Kelly Lab and Barker Lab won the BME Tug-of-War competition for the second year in a row. 

  • The Kelly Lab explores Shenandoah National Park!

  • Annual Gingerbread Competition

    The Kelly Lab preparing for BME's 2019 Gingerbread competition! 

In the News

Selected Publications

  • Challenges of Pancreatic Cancer., 2015; Cancer journal (Sudbury, Mass.). 21(3) 188-93. PMID: 26049698 | PMCID: PMC4517183 Dimastromatteo J, Houghton JL, Lewis JS, Kelly KA
  • Formation and role of exosomes in cancer., 2014; Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS. 72(4) 659-71. PMID: 25336151 Brinton LT, Sloane HS, Kester M, Kelly KA
  • Unexpected gain of function for the scaffolding protein plectin due to mislocalization in pancreatic cancer., 2013; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110(48) 19414-9. PMID: 24218614 | PMCID: PMC3845200 Shin SJ, Smith JA, Rezniczek GA, Pan S, Chen R, Brentnall TA, Wiche G, Kelly KA
  • Mechanisms for targeted delivery of nanoparticles in cancer., 2013; Current pharmaceutical design. 19(37) 6560-74. PMID: 23621529 Beech JR, Shin SJ, Smith JA, Kelly KA
  • Plectin-1 Targeted AAV Vector for the Molecular Imaging of Pancreatic Cancer., 2013; Frontiers in oncology. 3() 84. PMID: 23616947 | PMCID: PMC3629297 Konkalmatt PR, Deng D, Thomas S, Wu MT, Logsdon CD, French BA, Kelly KA
  • Imaging VCAM-1 as an indicator of treatment efficacy in metastatic ovarian cancer., 2013; Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine. 54(11) 1883-9. PMID: 24029657 | PMCID: PMC3992874 Scalici JM, Thomas S, Harrer C, Raines TA, Curran J, Atkins KA, Conaway MR, Duska L, Kelly KA, Slack-Davis JK
  • Targeted nanoparticles in imaging: paving the way for personalized medicine in the battle against cancer., 2012; Integrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro. () . PMID: 22790418 Shin SJ, Beech JR, Kelly KA
  • Development of Secreted Protein and Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) Targeted Nanoparticles for the Prognostic Molecular Imaging of Metastatic Prostate Cancer., 2012; Journal of nanomedicine & nanotechnology. 2(112) . PMID: 22319675 | PMCID: PMC3273319 Thomas S, Waterman P, Chen S, Marinelli B, Seaman M, Rodig S, Ross RW, Josephson L, Weissleder R, Kelly KA
  • Rapid analysis of vessel elements (RAVE): a tool for studying physiologic, pathologic and tumor angiogenesis., 2011; PloS one. 6(6) e20807. PMID: 21694777 | PMCID: PMC3111429 Seaman ME, Peirce SM, Kelly K
  • Techniques for molecular imaging probe design., 2011; Molecular imaging. 10(6) 407-19. PMID: 22201532 | PMCID: PMC3224676 Reynolds F, Kelly KA
  • A functional proteomic method for biomarker discovery., 2011; PloS one. 6(7) e22471. PMID: 21811618 | PMCID: PMC3139652 Reynolds F, Panneer N, Tutino CM, Wu M, Skrabal WR, Moskaluk C, Kelly KA
  • Molecular imaging agents: impact on diagnosis and therapeutics in oncology., 2010; Expert reviews in molecular medicine. 12() e20. PMID: 20633310 | PMCID: PMC3027202 Seaman ME, Contino G, Bardeesy N, Kelly KA

Courses Taught

  • BME 4890 Nanomedicine
  • BME 6550 Diagnostic Imaging

Featured Grants & Projects

  • Kelly Laboratory Projects

    We utilize a multidisciplinary approach with expertise in chemical biology, physiology, proteomics, molecular imaging, and nanotechnology to make fundamental discoveries that are linked to the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In this way, we have used phage display derived proteomics to identify peptides that will target heart cells post myocardial infarction (MI). These peptides can be used as imaging agents as well as molecules for targeted drug delivery. In addition, identification of the peptide binding partner on the heart cells will enable us to examine biology and signaling of cells post MI.