“It has been exciting to be part of CHKD’s transition from a good community hospital to a world leader over the last 20 years. On a daily basis, everyone seeks the best for the patient and works together to obtain it. Not in theory or on paper, but in reality.”
Dr. Robert Kelly
American Board of Surgery
Medical School: Johns Hopkins University
Residency: Vanderbilt University
Fellowship: UCLA School of Medicine
Fellowship: Children's Hospital of Buffalo
A surgeon, educator and
researcher, Dr. Kelly has served as chief of the department of surgery at CHKD for the past 16 years. He is also chief of the division of pediatric surgery at EVMS, as well as professor of clinical surgery and pediatrics. He has been at CHKD for over 20 years.
internationally recognized expert in treatment of chest wall abnormalities,
Dr. Kelly’s large clinical expertise includes introduction of new surgical
techniques for pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum. With Dr. Donald
Nuss, developer of the Nuss procedure, Dr. Kelly pioneered development of a clinic
devoted to chest wall repair. CHKD is a world leader in minimally invasive pectus excavatum surgery, but also offers the non-invasive vacuum bell treatment introduced to CHKD's pectus program by
partner Dr. Robert Obermeyer.
Dr. Kelly led a multicenter,
multiyear study of pectus excavatum, which compared surgical results and
complications, effects on lung and heart function, changes in body image, and
improvement in chest shape resulting from surgical treatment of pectus
excavatum. The study, organized at CHKD/EVMS, led to multiple
publications in leading journals. Dr. Kelly has led the internationally
attended Nuss Lecture Series at CHKD/EVMS for the past several years. He also introduced to CHKD the Argentine brace, which is now the favored treatment for pectus carinatum internationally. Patients who do not achieve the desired results from
brace treatment are offered the "reverse Nuss" procedure, introduced to the
United States by Dr. Kelly, or the standard open operation.
Since his arrival at CHKD, Dr. Kelly has pioneered many
well-regarded collaborations, including ongoing work with Old Dominion University's engineering department to develop a simulator
for teaching surgeons the Nuss procedure. Another
collaboration with ODU's department of psychology -- led by CHKD's Dr. Michele Lombardo -- has grown out of the multicenter study and examines
body image effects following correction of pectus carinatum.
Dr. Kelly, who completed fellowships in surgical research at UCLA and pediatric surgery at Children's Hospital of Buffalo, has published more than 55
research studies, along with a number of book chapters. A sought-after
speaker, he has lectured at medical conferences around the world. He is a devoted
educator, and has been recognized by the surgical residents at EVMS for
outstanding service to teaching and education.
Dr. Kelly graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., before beginning his pursuit of a pediatric medicine career. His wife, Cynthia, practices
pediatric allergy and immunology at CHKD. The couple has three
- American College of Surgeons
- American Pediatric Surgical Association (fellow)
Academy of Pediatrics Surgical Section
Honors & Awards
- Coastal Virginia Magazine "Top Doc" 2014