Dr Kelly Smith

Senior Research Fellow

Institute for Molecular Bioscience
+61 7 334 62343
+61 7 334 62053


Dr Kelly Smith is a developmental biologist studying morphogenesis of the heart. She completed her PhD in 2005 under the guidance of Arthur Shulkes and Graham Baldwin (University of Melbourne) studying gastrin-associated peptides and their role in gastric and colonic growth.

For her postdoctoral studies, Kelly moved to the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands, where she investigated early cardiac morphogenesis in the lab of Jeroen Bakkers. Here, Kelly used the zebrafish model to study cardiac cell behaviours in development and to uncover the genetic pathways regulating left-right asymmetry, heart tube assembly and cardiac valve development (the latter of which was translated into the clinical setting, with the discovery of genetic mutations in patients with cardiac valve defects).

Kelly moved to UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience in 2010 where she continues her research into cardiac development.

Primarily using the zebrafish model, Kelly's group has recently performed a large forward genetic screen to identify novel genes in cardiac development. They are also generating a range of new tools to study the cell biology of heart development, and are branching out, using other models (such as mouse and cell culture) to enhance their research into specific processes of interest.

Research Interests

  • Genetics and cell biology of cardiac development
    Our survival is contingent on a correctly formed and functioning heart. It’s architecture is so precise that even small deviations from its normal structure can have fatal consequences, in the form of congenital heart defects. The complexity of the heart is achieved during embryonic development, beginning with simple tissue primordia that proliferate, migrate, differentiate, integrate and reorganize in an exact sequence of events to form the final organ. The vasculature is also centrally important in cardiovascular diseases and in cancer progression. We aim to better understand how the vasculature forms during development and to translate our findings into a deeper understanding of disease. We study several aspects of vascular development and biology.

Research Impacts

The human heart is critical for survival and yet, despite its importance, we still lack a basic understanding of how it forms. Discovering new genes will help us understand how to build a new heart. This information in turn will aid in devising strategies to repair hearts damaged by congenital and acquired heart disease.


  • Doctor of Philosopy, Victoria University
  • Bachelor of Science (Hons), Victoria University


  • Lagendijk, Anne Karine, Gomez, Guillermo A, Baek, Sungmin, Hesselson, Daniel, Hughes, William E, Paterson, Scott, Conway, Daniel E, Belting, Heinz-Georg, Affolter, Markus, Smith, Kelly A, Schwartz, Martin A, Yap, Alpha S and Hogan, Benjamin M (2017) Live imaging molecular changes in junctional tension upon VE-cadherin in zebrafish.. Nature communications, 8 1: 1402. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01325-6

  • De Angelis, Jessica E., Lagendijk, Anne K., Chen, Huijun, Tromp, Alisha, Bower, Neil I., Tunny, Kathryn A., Brooks, Andrew J., Bakkers, Jeroen, Francois, Mathias, Yap, Alpha S., Simons, Cas, Wicking, Carol, Hogan, Benjamin M. and Smith, Kelly A. (2017) Tmem2 regulates embryonic Vegf signaling by controlling hyaluronic acid turnover. Developmental Cell, 40 2: 123-136. doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2016.12.017

  • Capon, Samuel James, Baillie, Gregory, Bower, Neil, Da Silva, Jason Andrew, Paterson, Scott, Hogan, Ben, Simons, Cas and Smith, Kelly (2017) Utilising polymorphisms to achieve allele-specific genome editiing in zebrafish. Biology Open, 6 1: 125-131. doi:10.1242/bio.020974

View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Bakkers, Jeroen, Chocron, Sonja, Gouriev, Victor, Smith, Kelly, Deprez, Ronald Lekanne Dit, Joziasse, Irene C., Doevendans, Pieter A., Mulder, Barbara J., Simpson, Melanie, Barycki, Joseph and Cuppen, Edwin (2007). Large scale mutation discovery screen identifies functionally variant UGDH alleles in patients with atrioventricular valve defects. In: Circulation. 80th Annual Scientific Session of the American-Heart-Association, Orlando Fl, (604-604). Nov 04-07, 2007.

  • Kovac, S., Smith, K., Burgess, J. R., Shulkes, A. and Baldwin, G. S. (2007). Involvement of gastrin peptides in iron metabolism. In: Febs Journal. 32nd Congress of the Federation-of-European-Biochemical-Societies (FEBS), Vienna Austria, (275-275). Jul 07-12, 2007.

  • Smith, Kelly, Kovac, Suzana, Anderson, Gregory J., Burgess, John, Shulkes, Arthur and Baldwin, Graham S. (2007). Reciprocal relationship between circulating gastrin and iron status in mice and humans. In: Gastroenterology. Digestive Disease Weeking Meeting/ASGE Postgraduate Course Meeting, Washington Dc, (A225-A225). May 19-24, 2007.

  • Kovac, Suzana, Smith, Kelly, Shulkes, Arthur and Baldwin, Graham S. (2006). Relationship between gastrin and iron in mice with haemolytic anemia. In: Regulatory Peptides. 16th International Symposium on Regulatory Peptides, Hakone Japan, (139-139). Aug 31-Sep 02, 2006.

  • Smith, Kelly, Patel, Oneel, Lachal, Shamilah, Jennings, Ian, Kemp, Bruce, Burgess, John, Baldwin, Graham and Shulkes, Arthur (2006). Secretion, production and biological activity of the human C-terminal flanking peptide of progastrin. In: Gastroenterology. Digestive Disease Week Meeting/107th Annual Meeting of the American-Gastroenterlogical-Association, Los Angeles Ca, (A224-A224). May 20-25, 2006.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors: