Brian Baker, recently named the Rev. John A. Zahm Professor of Structural Biology, has been appointed to the position of chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, effective July 1, 2016. He replaces Ken Henderson, who has stepped down as chair after seven years of dedicated leadership to the department. Mary Galvin, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean, says Baker is “an excellent researcher and teacher. Brian’s service to the department, College, and University, especially in his capacity as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies over the past three years, makes him well-suited to step into this key role.”
Baker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University.
Baker joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2001 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2007 and the rank of professor in 2013. As a member of the chemistry and biochemistry faculty, he served as the department’s director of graduate studies from 2008 to 2012, and was the principal developer and inaugural director of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. For the 2012–2013 academic year, he served as the associate dean for academic programs in the Graduate School. Baker was appointed to Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Science in 2013.
Baker’s research focuses on the interface between protein biophysics, structural biology, and immunology, with an emphasis on the development of immunological therapeutics for cancer. His work has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Walther Cancer Foundation, Pfizer, and others.
Baker notes that this is an exciting time for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Notre Dame is experiencing unprecedented growth – students, faculty, infrastructure, and facilities – each year sees new additions and improvements over the last. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is hiring new professors working at the cutting edge and expanding into state of the art research space in the brand new McCourtney Hall. In addition to training the next generation of chemists and biochemists, each day brings new scientific breakthroughs. Managing growth and finding time to congratulate a coworker for yet another discovery or accomplishment – these are the problems you want to have. It is an amazing time for the department and for Notre Dame.”