Link: University of Iowa

Sheila Baker to join Department of Biochemistry

Dr. Sheila Baker, a faculty member at Duke University, has been recruited to the Carver College of Medicine as a new assistant professor of biochemistry, effective July 1, 2010. Her research program will focus on how proteins required for vision are sorted to the correct subcompartments of vertebrate photoreceptor cells.

Baker is a 2003 PhD from Medical College of Wisconsin who did post-doctoral research with Dr. Vadim Arshavsky at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and continued with him after the group moved to the Duke Eye Center.

Her doctoral work with Dr. Joseph Besharse demonstrated that the intraflagellar transport complex is required for the development and maintenance of the photoreceptor outer segment. This work resulted in five publications including two highly influential papers: a second author Journal of Cell Biology paper that has been cited more than 150 times and a first author Journal of Biological Chemistry paper that has already been cited 47 times. Thus, Dr. Baker’s graduate work contributed substantially to the conceptual link between the photoreceptor and other ciliated cell types that is now widely accepted.

In the Arshavsky laboratory, she established novel systems for monitoring photoreceptor protein localization in frog eyes and published a first author Biochemistry paper, a first author Journal of Cell Biology paper and a second author Science paper. Her Biochemistry paper probed the kinetic mechanism of an RGS protein important for visual transduction. Her Journal of Cell Biology and Science papers dissected an ankyrin-independent and an ankyrin-dependent mechanism by which proteins are localized to specific photoreceptor cellular locations.

In a project funded by a five year R01 award from the National Eye Institute entitled Protein Targeting in Vertebrate Photoreceptors, she will investigate the basis for localization of three different proteins in photoreceptor cells. Please join me in welcoming Sheila Baker to Biochemistry at Iowa.

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