Dr. Kelly Helmick
Department Head, Senior Veterinarian
Broad clinical expertise in the health and welfare of a wide variety of taxa and experience in conducting field and laboratory research with a focus on pharmacokinetics, development and implementation of innovative diagnostic and treatment options, identification and characterization of novel disease organisms, and mentoring the next generation of veterinary health professionals.
- Senior Veterinarian and Head, Department of Conservation Medicine, National Zoo Conservation Biology Institute 2017 -
- United States Country
Background And Education
Education And Training
- B.S. in Biology, Texas Christian University
- D.V.M., Texas A&M University , College of Veterinary Medicine
- M.S., University of Florida , College of Veterinary Medicine
- Mystic Aquarium , Internship, Aquatic Species Medicine
- University of Florida , Residency, Wildlife and Zoological Medicine
Awards And Honors
- Inspector of the Year, conferred by Association of Zoos & Aquariums
- Presidential Service Award, conferred by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
- Presidential Service Award, conferred by American College of Zoological Medicine
- Charles F. Simpson Memorial Scholarship Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research, conferred by University of Florida
Dr. Kelly Helmick leads the Department of Conservation Medicine and oversees a team of dedicated veterinary health professionals with specialized training and experience in zoo and wildlife medicine. The Department of Conservation Medicine serves to optimize the health and well-being of the animal collection housed at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) through robust preventive health and disease surveillance programs, ensure healthy breeding populations and fitness for wild release of collection offspring, provide veterinary expertise and support for SCBI research programs and colleagues engaged in animal health and conservation, and advance the health and welfare of zoo animals and wildlife through department-led research, skilled mentorship, and professional service in veterinary health and conservation organizations.
Dr. Helmick has broad clinical expertise in the health and welfare of a wide variety of taxa and experience in conducting field and laboratory research, development and implementation of innovative diagnostic and treatment options, identification and characterization of novel disease organisms, and mentoring the next generation of veterinary health professionals. While her research and clinical investigations involves all aspects of zoo and wild animal health, her predominant areas of interest include clinical pharmacology, conservation research, animal welfare.
A diplomat of the American College of Zoological Medicine, Dr. Helmick also serves as an accreditation inspector for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a reviewer for several leading journals in the field of animal health and zoological medicine, veterinary co-advisor for the Snow Leopard Species Survival Program, and veterinary advisor for the Eld's Deer Species Survival Program. Dr. Helmick is a past-president of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) and has served on the Executive Board and as Chair of the Legislative and Animal Welfare Committee for AAZV. Before joining SCBI, Dr. Helmick has worked in clinical and veterinary leadership roles at the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, El Paso Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, and Woodland Park Zoo.
Dr. Helmick received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University before completing an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri-Columbia, followed by an aquatic animal internship at the Mystic Aquarium. She completed the zoo and wildlife residency at the University of Florida with a concurrent Master of Science degree focusing on antibiotic pharmacokinetics in reptiles. Dr. Helmick was awarded the Charles F. Simpson Memorial Scholarship Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research for her M.S. thesis, "In vitro drug susceptibility pattern of the newly identified pathogen Mycoplasma alligatori and kinetic disposition of single-dose intravenous and oral administration of enrofloxacin and single-dose intravenous and intramuscular administration of long-acting oxytetracycline in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)."
Research And Grants
- veterinary medicine, zoo and wildlife species, conservation, One Health, pharmacology, conservation
- Yu, Jennifer H., Papich, Mark G., Torres, Rodrigo Garces, Emerson, Jessica, Kinney, Matthew E., Helmick, Kelly, Crosier, Adrienne, Sanchez, Carlos R., and Murray, Suzan. 2021. "Cefovecin pharmacokinetics after single-dose intramuscular administration in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)." Journal of veterinary pharmacology and therapeutics, https://doi.org/10.1111/jvp.12969. 2021
- Moraes, Rosana N., Laske, Timothy G., Leimgruber, Peter, Stabach, Jared A., Marinari, Paul E., Horning, Megan M., Laske, Noelle R., Rodriguez, Juan V., Eye, Ginger N., Kordell, Jessica E., Gonzalez, Marissa, Eyring, Tom, Lemons, Christopher, Helmick, Kelly E., Delaski, Kristina M., Ware, Lisa H., Jones, Julia C., and Songsasen, Nucharin. 2021. "Inside out: heart rate monitoring to advance the welfare and conservation of maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus)." Conservation Physiology, 9, (1). https://doi.org/10.1093/conphys/coab044. 2021
- Womble, Mandy, Georoff, Timothy A., Helmick, Kelly, Carpenter, Nancy A., Joslin, Janis, Tupa, Lynn, Tetzloff, Jay, and McAloose, Denise. 2021. "Mortality Review for the North American Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia) Zoo Population from January 1999 to December 2019." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 52, (1) 145–156. https://doi.org/10.1638/2020-0132. 2021
- Thompson, Riley E., Brown, Megan E., Helmick, Kelly, Whitlock, Brian K., and Pukazhenthi, Budhan S. 2020. "Persian onager (Equus hemionus onager) endometrial explant cryopreservation and in vitro culture." Animal Reproduction Science, 217 Article 106459. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2020.106459. 2020
- Helmick, Kelly E., Garner, Michael M., Rhyan, Jack, and Bradway, Daniel. 2018. "Clinicopathologic Features of Infection with Novel Brucella Organisms in Captive Waxy Tree Frogs (Phyllomedusa Sauvagii) and Colorado River Toads (Incilius Alvarius)." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 49, (1) 153–161. https://doi.org/10.1638/2017-0026R1.1. 2018
- Davis, Greg E., Baik, Fred M., Liddell, Robert M., Ayars, Andrew G., Branch, Kelley R., Pottinger, Paul S., Hillel, Allen D., Helmick, Kelly, and Collins, Darin. 2018. "Gorilla endoscopic sinus surgery: a life-saving collaboration between human and veterinary medicine." International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, 8, (7) 857–862. https://doi.org/10.1002/alr.22117. 2018
- Helmick, Kelly E. 2017. "Salt bath as a treatment for idiopathic dermatitis in captive nile hippopotamus (hippopotamus amphibius)." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 48, (3) 915–917. https://doi.org/10.1638/2017-0075.1. 2017
- Sadler, Ryan A., Craig, Linden E., Ramsay, Edward C., Helmick, Kelly, Collins, Darin, and Garner, Michael M. 2016. "Clinicopathologic Features of Mammary Masses in Captive Lions (Panthera leo)." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 47, (1) 127–131. https://doi.org/10.1638/2015-0087.1. 2016
- Garner, M. M., Helmick, Kelly E., Ochsenreiter, J., Richman, Laura K., Latimer, Erin, Wise, A. G., Maes, R. K., Kiupel, M., Nordhausen, R. W., Zong, J. C., and Hayward, G. S. 2009. "Clinico-pathologic Features of Fatal Disease Attributed to New Variants of Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses in Two Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)." Vet Pathol, 46, (1) 97–104. https://doi.org/10.1354/vp.46-1-97. 2009
Responsible Collections Areas
- Department of Conservation Medicine, NZCBI
Professional Service Activities
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums Veterinary Advisor, Eld's Deer Species Survival Program
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums Veterinary Co-Advisor, Snow Leopard Species Survival Program
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Inspector
- American Association of Zoo Veterinarians President 2015 - 2016
- American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Chair, Legislative and Animal Welfare Committee 2006 - 2011
- National Zoological Park Academic Department