Daniel L. Baker

Professor, Chemistry Department

423 Smith Chemistry | 3744 Walker Ave.
Office Hours
By Appointment
Daniel L. Baker, Professor, Department of Chemistry

About Dr. Baker

Dr. Baker joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis in 2006, following three years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The Baker lab has a long-standing interest in the study of bioactive lipids including lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), and phosphatidic acid (PA). Past work has focused on identifying inhibitors of the enzymes that generate these mediators and, on the design, and characterization of subtype selective agonists and antagonists for LPA and SIP GPCR. Recent work has focused on computational and signaling approaches to identify ligands for understudied and orphan GPCR, as well as the synthesis and characterization of novel antibiofilm and combination antibiotic agents. Dr. Baker's expertise lies in the application of analytical biochemical principles to these problems. Research projects are conducted through interdisciplinary interactions with collaborators within the University of Memphis and beyond. Dr. Baker's major teaching focus has been CHEM3511, Foundations of Bioorganic Chemistry since 2010. However, he has also taught special topic courses on Chemical Biology, Medicinal Chemistry, and Protein Mass Spectrometry.

Research Interests

The Baker lab currently has two main research projects. The first area seeks to utilize synthetic and analytical techniques to make and characterize novel fatty acid analogs as antibiofilm and combination antibiotic agents. This effort is a collaboration with Drs. Tomoko Fujiwara (Chemistry), J. Amber Jennings and Joel Bumgardner (Biomedical Engineering). A schematic summarizing the project can be found here.

Recent publications from this work (all publications and issued US patents can be found here):

  1. Harrison, Z. L., Bumgardner, J.D., Fujiwara, T., Baker, D.L., and Jennings, J.A., (2021) In Vitro Evaluation of Loaded Chitosan Membranes for Pain Relief and Infection Control. J. Biomed. Mater Res. 1-9.
  2. Harrison, Z.L., Awais, R., Harris, M.A., Raji, B., Hoffman, B.C., Baker, D.L., and Jessica A. Jennings, J.A., (2021) 2-Heptylcyclopropane-1-Carboxylic acid Disperses and Inhibits Bacterial Biofilms. Front. Microbiol. 12, 645180.
  3. Wells, C.M., Coleman, E.C., Yeasmin, R., Harrison, Z.L., Kurkula, M., Baker, D.L., Bumgardner, J.D., Fujiwara, T., and Jennings, J.A., (2021) Synthesis and Characterizationof 2-Decenoic Acid Modified Chitosan for Infection Prevention and Tissue Engineering. Marine Drugs, 19, 556.
  4. Jennings, J.A., Baker, D.L., Awais, R. Harrison, Z., and Raji, B., Controlling Biofilms with Cyclopropanated Fatty Acids. US Patent #11,311,506, 4/26/2022.

The second area has the goal of discovering ligands for orphan and understudied G protein coupled receptors (GPCR). This work benchmarks and applies computational methods to the prioritization of candidates for cell-based screening efforts and seeks to design and characterize water-soluble analogs of GPCR to provide complimentary approaches to study their structure and function. This work is collaboration with Drs. Abby Parrill (Chemistry) and Judith Cole (Biological Sciences). A schematic summarizing the project can be found here.

Recent publications from this work (all publications and issued US patents can be found here):

  1. Castleman, P.N., Sears, C.K., Cole, J.A., Baker, D.L., and Parrill, A.L., (2019) GPCR Homology Model Template Selection Benchmarking: Global Versus Local Similarity Measures. J. Mol. Graph. & Model. 86:235-246.
  2. Wink, L, H., Cole J.A., Baker, D.L., and Parrill, A.L., (2019) A Benchmark Study of Loop Modeling Methods Applied to G Protein-Coupled Receptors. J. Computer-Aided Mol. Design 33:573-595.
  3. Szwabowski, G.L., Castleman, P.N., Sears, C.K., Wink, L.H., Cole, J. A., Baker, D.L., and Parrill, A.L., (2020) Benchmarking GPCR Homology Model Template Selection in Combination with De Novo Loop Generation. J. Computer-Aided Mol. Design, 34:1027-1044.
  4. Castleman, P., Szwabowski, G. Bowman, D., Cole, J.A., Parrill, A.L., and Baker, D.L., (2022) Ligand-Based G Protein Coupled Receptor Pharmacophore Modeling: Assessing the Role of Ligand Function in Model Development, J. Computer-Aided Mol. Design 111, 108107.
  5. Thomas, B.N, Parrill, A.L., and Baker, D.L., (2022) Self-docking and Cross-docking Simulations of G Protein-Coupled Receptor-Ligand Complexes: Impact of Ligand Type and Receptor Activation State, J. Computer-Aided Mol. Design 112, 198119.