Dal trailblazer named to 2021 Cannabis Scientist Power List

- April 1, 2021

Dr. Melanie Kelly has been named to an influential international list in recognition of her research and mentorship in the field of cannabinoid science. (Provided images)
Dr. Melanie Kelly has been named to an influential international list in recognition of her research and mentorship in the field of cannabinoid science. (Provided images)

One of Dalhousie’s own has been named to the Cannabis Scientist Power List for 2021.

This international list was established to acknowledge and celebrate individuals who make outstanding contributions to advancing cannabis and cannabinoid science through their research and mentorship activities.

Dr. Melanie Kelly
, a Professor in Dal’s Faculty of Medicine, was recognized for her contributions to research and development of novel cannabinoid-based therapeutics.

“It is always really gratifying to be acknowledged by one’s peers,” says Dr. Kelly. “The Power List is selected annually by a panel of top experts and respected researchers in both the academic and industry field of cannabinoid science, and I was extremely honored to be selected again among four other accomplished leaders in this area.”

An R&D superstar

Dr. Kelly’s primary research expertise is molecular and functional pharmacology with a special interest in translational pharmacology and drug development in the cannabis/cannabinoid space. Her lab also has expertise in ocular and central nervous system pharmacology and therapeutics and examines use of drugs that target the endocannabinoid system for neurodegenerative disease and pain and inflammation.

She has participated in and developed curriculum in medicine and pharmacy at undergraduate and graduate levels as well as content for continuing medical education and postgraduate professional education. She also contributes as an expert consultant to industry with regard to drug development in the cannabis/cannabinoid space and in the development of scientific material for public dissemination and knowledge translation. In addition, she is the chief scientific officer for Panag Pharma Inc. in Nova Scotia and the chief scientific officer for Tetra Biopharma Inc. in Ontario.

Dr. Kelly has published more than 100 publications in the area of pharmacology, cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system and holds several patents in the area of cannabinoid drugs for therapeutic management of disease.

“My work and successes in the area of endocannabinoid system research and drug development has not been a sole accomplishment but has been the result of long-standing and meaningful collaborative research that involved many colleagues at Dalhousie University and internationally,” says Dr. Kelly.

Providing inspiration

Inspiration can often be overlooked in research, but it plays a significant role. For Dr. Kelly, there are two key people that she looks up to.

“In science, Phyllis Gardner — a consummate clinician-scientist who has contributed to patient care at the highest level, published ground-breaking and rigorous science, and proven herself to be an outstanding entrepreneur, translating preclinical science to the clinic via innovative drug development,” says Dr. Kelly. “Further she is an astute businesswoman and is sought after on the boards of numerous high-profile companies.”

“Outside science, Stacy Abrams – lawyer, politician, voting rights activist, and author,” continues Dr. Kelly. “ She is the founder of Fair Fight, the first African-American woman to be a major party nominee for Governor, and the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union Address. Truly inspiration and an example of implementing change through persistence, hard work, transparency, and inclusivity.”

And when asked about advice she’d give to her younger self, Dr. Kelly replied with “Don’t dwell on the barriers – focus on what you want to do. Be curious and engaged, and above all there are no substitutes for hard work and tenacity in getting the job done.”

To learn more about Dr. Kelly and her work, visit the Kelly Lab online.


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