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)."