David Baker (biochemist)

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David Baker
David Baker at the summit of Spark Plug Mountain, Washington, July 31, 2013
Baker in 2013
Born (1962-10-06) October 6, 1962 (age 61)
Alma mater
Known for
SpouseHannele Ruohola-Baker
Scientific career
FieldsComputational biology
Doctoral advisorRandy Schekman
Other academic advisorsDavid Agard
Doctoral studentsRichard Bonneau
Other notable studentsBrian Kuhlman, Tanja Kortemme

David Baker (born October 6, 1962, in Seattle, Washington[3]) is an American biochemist and computational biologist who has pioneered methods to predict and design the three-dimensional structures of proteins. He is the Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor in Biochemistry and an adjunct professor of genome sciences, bioengineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and physics at the University of Washington. He serves as the director of the Rosetta Commons, a consortium of labs and researchers that develop biomolecular structure prediction and design software. The problem of protein structure prediction to which Baker has contributed significantly has now been largely solved by DeepMind using artificial intelligence.[4] Baker is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. He is also the director of the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design.[5]


Baker did his graduate work in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in the laboratory of Randy Schekman, where he worked predominantly on protein transport and trafficking in yeast. He did his postdoctoral work with David Agard of University of California, San Francisco.

For his work on protein folding, Baker received the 2008 Sackler International Prize in Biophysics,[6] the 2021 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences,[7] and in 2022 the Wiley Prize.[8] For 2022 he was awarded the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category "Biology and Biomedicine".[9]

Baker was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.[10] He is married to Hannele Ruohola-Baker, another biochemist at UW. They have two children.


Baker's group developed the Rosetta algorithm for ab initio protein structure prediction, which has been extended to a distributed computing project called Rosetta@Home[11][12] and Foldit.[13][14] The project aims to produce structural models for protein complexes as well as individual polypeptide chains. The group specializes in the CASP structure prediction experiment using ab initio methods, including both manually assisted and automated variants of the Rosetta protocol.[15][16]

Members of his group are active in the field of protein design;[17] they are noted for designing a protein, known as Top7, with an entirely novel fold.[18]

Although primarily known for the development of methods for computational prediction of protein structure and function, he is also interested in the use of computational methods to drive experimental assessment of biology; his laboratory maintains an active experimental biochemistry group. He also served on the Life Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize in 2016.


In December 2018, Baker spoke at the "Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics" conference in San Diego, California.[19]

In April 2019, Baker gave a TED talk titled "5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins" at TED2019 in Vancouver, Canada.[20]


  1. ^ "David Baker". Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. Archived from the original on August 2, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Institute for Protein Design wins $45M in funding from TED's Audacious Project". April 17, 2019.
  3. ^ Howes, Laura. "Protein wrangler, serial entrepreneur, and community builder". Chemical & Engineering News. 97 (30).
  4. ^ Callaway E (July 2022). "The entire protein universe: AI predicts shape of nearly every known protein". Nature. 608 (7921): 15–16. Bibcode:2022Natur.608...15C. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-02083-2. PMID 35902752.
  5. ^ "UW to Establish Institute for Protein Design – Institute for Protein Design". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  6. ^ Leila Gray (November 24, 2008). "University of Washington biochemist David Baker to receive 2008 Sackler International Prize in Biophysics for discoveries in protein folding". University of Washington. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "Breakthrough Prize – Winners Of The 2021 Breakthrough Prizes In Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics And Mathematics Announced". breakthroughprize.org. Retrieved December 13, 2021..
  8. ^ Wiley Prize 2022
  9. ^ BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award 2022
  10. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
  11. ^ Castillo, Oscar; Melin, Patricia; Kacprzyk, Janusz, eds. (2018). Fuzzy Logic Augmentation of Neural and Optimization Algorithms: Theoretical Aspects and Real Applications. Springer. p. 455. ISBN 9783319710075. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  12. ^ Bonneau, Richard; Ruczinski, Ingo; Tsai, Jerry; Baker, David (August 2002). "Contact order and ab initio protein structure prediction". Protein Science. 11 (8): 1937–1944. doi:10.1110/ps.3790102. PMC 2373674. PMID 12142448.
  13. ^ Hand, E. (2010). "Citizen science: People power". Nature. 466 (7307): 685–687. doi:10.1038/466685a. PMID 20686547.
  14. ^ Cooper, S.; Khatib, F.; Treuille, A.; Barbero, J.; Lee, J.; Beenen, M.; Leaver-Fay, A.; Baker, D.; Popović, Z.; Players, F. (2010). "Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game". Nature. 466 (7307): 756–760. Bibcode:2010Natur.466..756C. doi:10.1038/nature09304. PMC 2956414. PMID 20686574.
  15. ^ Dimaio, F.; Terwilliger, T. C.; Read, R. J.; Wlodawer, A.; Oberdorfer, G.; Wagner, U.; Valkov, E.; Alon, A.; Fass, D.; Axelrod, H. L.; Das, D.; Vorobiev, S. M.; Iwaï, H.; Pokkuluri, P. R.; Baker, D. (2011). "Improved molecular replacement by density- and energy-guided protein structure optimization". Nature. 473 (7348): 540–3. Bibcode:2011Natur.473..540D. doi:10.1038/nature09964. PMC 3365536. PMID 21532589.
  16. ^ Qian, B.; Raman, S.; Das, R.; Bradley, P.; McCoy, A. J.; Read, R. J.; Baker, D. (2007). "High-resolution structure prediction and the crystallographic phase problem". Nature. 450 (7167): 259–64. Bibcode:2007Natur.450..259Q. doi:10.1038/nature06249. PMC 2504711. PMID 17934447.
  17. ^ Zimmer, Carl (December 26, 2017). "Scientists Are Designing Artisanal Proteins for Your Body". The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Kuhlman, Brian; Dantas, Gautam; Ireton, Gregory C.; Varani, Gabriele; Stoddard, Barry L.; Baker, David (November 21, 2003). "Design of a Novel Globular Protein Fold with Atomic-Level Accuracy". Science. 302 (5649): 1364–1368. Bibcode:2003Sci...302.1364K. doi:10.1126/science.1089427. PMID 14631033. S2CID 1939390.
  19. ^ "Antibody Engineering and Therapeutics".
  20. ^ "5 challenges we could solve by designing new proteins". June 17, 2019.

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