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William KellyProfessor

The Kelly Lab

Lab Location:  Rollins 2086
Lab Phone:       404-727-4580



  • B.S., Belmont Abbey College, Belmont, NC, 1981
  • M.S., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, 1985
  • Ph.D., John Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 1993

Research Area

  • Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology

Graduate Program Affiliation

  • Biochemistry, Cell & Developmental Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology

Research Description

Molecular Analysis of Epigenetic Regulation in Germ Cells.  We use the genetic model system C. elegans to study how the "mother of all stem cells", the germ line, is established during embryogenesis and maintained during development. We have identified an "epigenetic erasure" process that separates pluripotent germ cells from somatic cells in the early embryo, and are studying epigenetic mechanisms that guard the germ cells during early development and regulate genomic activation.

We also study how chromatin-based silencing mechanisms are targeted to large genomic regions, particularly the X chromosome, in adult germ cells. We have discovered imprinted X inactivation in C. elegans, and are using this as a model to analyze how genetic imprinting is established in gametogenesis. We have also recently identified mechanisms that silence unpaired DNA during meiosis, and are investigating how such mechanisms contribute to genome stability.

Research Lab Description

We study highly conserved and presumably ancient mechanisms that operate in the germ line to protect and maintain the integrity of the genome across generations. We have identified several of these mechanisms and study them using the nematode C. elegans as a model system.